Letters to the Prison - Week 137

Hello, everyone.  We want to encourage you:  Prayerfully consider what we can individually and personally sacrifice at Jesus’ feet.  What can we give up or give away or give to him that would honor him?  Ask God carefully and be prepared for a surprising answer!
We’re considering John 12.  Last week, Jesus said something unusual in answer to Judas Iscariot’s unusual question about Mary’s unusual sacrifice:
•Jesus said, “Leave her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of my burial. 8 For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.”--John 12:7-8
As usual, we could spend a lot of time considering what is going on here.  But we’re studying John with a focus on what Jesus (and others) say about who he is.  Still, it is fascinating to notice how, when someone asks Jesus a question, he very rarely gives a simple straightforward answer.  Instead, his response always seems to go to straight to the heart of the questioner’s real concern.  We’ve seen this happen earlier in our study (John 3:1-3 and 9:1-3, for example).  And, with little exception, the heart of the questioner’s concern always seems to be… Jesus himself –what to do with him and his claims.  This moment is no different.  
It becomes apparent, then, that Jesus is telling Judas (and the others gathered with him) something very important regarding himself… and, therefore, the deepest concern of their hearts:
Jesus is going to die soon.  The poor aren’t going away.  But Jesus will.  
So then, the key concern is:  What will the people around Jesus do with the time they’ve been given to walk with him?  What will happen when Jesus dies?  Mary, though she may not fully understand the significance of her action, is nevertheless making the best use of her time with Jesus.  Even though she doesn’t have a clear answer to the concern in her heart, she is clearly and publicly placing all her hope and trust and need for security at the feet of Jesus… right where all those things belong.  Is this like us?  Or not?  What are we doing with the time we’re given?
Interestingly, Jesus’ assertion that he will die soon is nevertheless laid in stark contrast to the profound demonstration of his power over death --exemplified in the person of Lazarus.  In fact, right away, after this conversation, John’s focus shifts back to this very thing:  Lazarus having been raised from the dead.  John 12:9-11 provides more objective proof (as if we need it) of the reality of Lazarus’ resurrection:  The fact that the “chief priests” now want to murder Lazarus also.  Because “On account of him many of the Jews were going away and believing in Jesus” (John 12:11).
 Mary, having personally witnessed these things, is laying everything –herself and all that she values in the world-- at Jesus’ feet.
Judas Iscariot, having also personally witnessed these things, isn’t even thinking about Jesus --or his feet.  He’s hung up on the “worldly value” of what Mary is (in his opinion) throwing away.
So, where are we in this contrast?  Are we like Judas?  Or Mary?  This is a dire question that we should consider prayerfully and honestly.  We’ll continue our study next week.  We love you!

Dean A.

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