By Ji Yun
I. The Word
“1 Then, six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was who had been dead, whom He had raised from the dead. 2 There they made him a supper; and Martha served, but Lazarus was one of those who sat at the table with Him. 3 Then Mary took a pound of very costly oil or spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil.”
This is the Word of the Lord.
Chapter 12 of John’s gospel begins with a few essential premises. First, in the previous chapter, John describes one of the climactic signs of the Messiah, raising the dead Lazarus to life. John saw miracles as the signs, and these signs are to point people to God, that they might believe in Him.
“And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.” John 20:31-31, NKJV
This event of Lazurus led many Jews to believe in Jesus, which served as the final straw to the Jewish leaders to plot against Jesus to kill Him. The time for Jesus to be slaughter as the Lamb of God has come, as promised Messiah is about to fulfill His call, “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” as John the Baptist prophesied of the purpose of God’s Son (John 1:29). This event will take place during the Passover, not coincident that celebration of freedom from the Egyptians, God freed Israel from the bondage of slavery, sacrificial of lamb is remembered as the blood of the lamb protected Israel from the angel of death. Now, blood of the Lamb of God, will forever defeat the curse of Adam, which is death by becoming the sacrifice Himself.
Detail, Detail, and Details.
For those who studied John’s gospel should be familiar with John’s style of writing, one being his attention to the details. In today’s reading, John begins with “Six days before the Passover,” which places Jesus to a specific place and time. Here is why it is essential for us today, with this date in mind, this would be Sabbath, presuming that Passover that year would fell on following Friday. That means, this is not a regular meal they are eating, but Sabbath meal, which is essential to Jewish descents, remember God’s creation and the rest, with His creations and orders. This would be the last Sabbath/Rest before Jesus would enter into the Passion week, where He will have to embrace the suffering as the Lamb of God.
This meal is being offered by no other than the friends Jesus loves; Martha, Mary, and Lazarus at a specific location, Bethany. Each character has their role in this narrative, where Martha will serve the meal, Lazarus sat with Jesus, and Mary, who would anoint Jesus.
The most important part of this story is Mary anointing the feet of Jesus with costly (very costly) oil of spikenard. This action of Mary is significant for several reasons. First, the amount of oil was used, and second, expensiveness of the oil, which counts to be a costly action by Mary. Mary is taking on herself, the lowliest servant role to wash Jesus’ feet, and it is an act of humility towards the Son of God.
Several days later, a similar act will be performed by Jesus, when the Son of God will lower Himself, taking the form of a bondservant to wash the disciples’ feet. Humility, to lower oneself, to serve our brothers and sisters is the most significant trait of a believer. Without it, we cannot exemplify Christ, who modeled humility on earth by serving His creation, that did not deserve Him.
“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time.” 1 Peter 5:6