1 Six days before the Passover, Jesus arrived at Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2 Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. 3 Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.
4 But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, 5 “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” 6 He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.
7 “Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. “It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. 8 You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.”
9 Meanwhile a large crowd of Jews found out that Jesus was there and came, not only because of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 10 So the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus as well, 11 for on account of him many of the Jews were going over to Jesus and putting their faith in him.
This is the last week of Jesus' life on earth and, knowing the Pharisees want to kill him, He returns to Bethany, putting the wheels in motion for His death.
He returns to a party held in His honour, for raising Lazarus from the dead. What a party that must have been! And Mary gave Jesus an extraordinary gift - perfume that probably cost about $25,000 or more, an expression of extravagant, limitless love!
In the words of John Piper (emphasis in original)....
It is a beautiful thing when the worth of Jesus and the love of his followers match—when the value of his perfections and the intensity of our affections correspond.
So true, isn't it? A beautiful thing indeed.
But Judas doesn't see it that way and he objects under the guise of concern for the poor. So Jesus bluntly tells him to leave her alone. And He gives 3 reasons for that - because the opportunity to worship Jesus in this way on earth would not last forever, because the ability and opportunity to care for the poor would always be there and if that was Judas' actual concern Mary's actions would not hinder that, and because He wanted Mary (and other true believers) to not lose the wonder of the Resurrection and the Life in the next week when that would be sorely tested as they watched their Lord tortured and crucified.
Tomorrow's scripture focus: John 12:12-19