Summary: This message covers John 12:1-10 and describes the annointing of Christ at Bethany by Mary, the sister of Lazarus. Judas exposes his greed and Jesus commends Mary’s action.
Pastor David M. Wilson
Grant Avenue Baptist Church
Redondo Beach, CA 90278
Did you ever notice that some stories appear in the Bible more than once and sometimes with different details? For example, if we were to compare today’s text with a similar story in Luke 7 we might come to believe that these two events were really the same event just told from the viewpoint of different witnesses.
I believe that the anointing of Christ described in this chapter is a distinct and separate event from the anointing that occurs in Luke 7. One of the reasons why I feel this way is because of the setting. In Luke 7 the event occurs in the house of a Pharisee named Simon, who Mark describes in his gospel as having been a leper. In this instance, we have Christ apparently in the home of Mary, Martha and Lazarus. The similarities are there.
I believe that Jesus was anointed by Mary Magdelene, in the home of Simon. Then I believe that Jesus was also anointed by Mary, the sister of Lazarus, in our text this morning.
Why would there be two such strikingly similar events recorded? What happened in Jerusalem, in the early church, when Joseph, the Levite (also called Barnabas) sold his land (Acts 4:36-37) and brought the money to the apostles? Others began to follow their example. This led to the sin of Ananias and Saphirra described in Acts 5, still we know that others followed the sacrificial example.
There is always someone watching you. You can provide a positive example or a negative example. You can count on others following you, whether you are popular or unpopular, cool or uncool, spiritual or unspiritual.
The Sunday morning I got saved it took everything I had to come forward and confess that I had faked my way through the Christian life. After I did, one of the most popular young adults in the church took to the floor and came forward to rededicate his life. He was older than I was, cooler than I was, smoother than I was—you name it—I thought he had it made. But he came forward and said, “If David can come forward and confess that he needs to be saved I can come forward and confess that I need to rededicate my life to the Lord.” Who would have thought Marlon Griffin was watching me? Who would have thought I would lead him in the right direction? Sometimes the very people that you think are not watching you are simply waiting for you to move in the right direction.
I believe Mary, Martha’s sister, was aware of Christ’s positive response to the sinful Mary Magdalene anointing of him in the house of Simon, a neighbor. She either saw or heard about this loving action and decided that she needed to do something very similar.
Let’s move forward and look at the text.
VERSES 1-2 Dinner at the Lazarus Home!
Here we have another incident of Martha serving dinner. This time, there the Lord, the twelve disciples, and her siblings present at the very least. However, in contrast with the story found in Luke 10, where she complained about having to do all the work, now she is serving without too much concern. Her service hadn’t come to a stop, but her attitude about the service of others had changed.
Martha was using her gift. She was a confident hostess and that was important. No longer was she focused on how others were or were not working, but now she is simply focused on using her gift to bring blessing to the Lord.
VERSE 3 The anointing!
Mary took the expensive ointment and in an act of true humility, poured all of it out on the feet of Jesus. She gave it all. It would never go back into that bottle. She then wiped his feet with her hair.
An important point should be made here about giving of our best to the Lord. Far too often we give the leftovers, or what we can spare. That is not sacrifice. It is only when we give up that which is near and dear to us that we have given in a sacrificial manner.
John makes an important point that the smell of the perfume filled the house. This is interesting because of a Jewish proverb. The Proverb says, “The scent of a perfume fills the house from the bed chamber to the dining hall, while a good name is spread from one end of the world to the other.” In other words, it is one thing to smell good, but it is a whole lot better to be known of for your righteousness.
Mary’s actions were meant to bless Christ, but here we are two thousand years later discussing her sacrificial actions.