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Summary: A sermon for the 5th Sunday in Lent Mary and Martha

5th Sunday in Lent

John 12:1-8

The Dinner Guest

12:1 ¶ Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead.

2 There they made him a supper; Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at table with him.

3 Mary took a pound of costly ointment of pure nard and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the ointment.

4 But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was to betray him), said,

5 "Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?"

6 This he said, not that he cared for the poor but because he was a thief, and as he had the money box he used to take what was put into it.

7 Jesus said, "Let her alone, let her keep it for the day of my burial.

8 The poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me."RSV

Grace and Peace to You from our Lord and Saviour, Jesus who is the Christ. Amen

"One afternoon three children, two boys and a girl, entered a flower shop. They were about nine or ten years old, raggedly dressed, but clean. They gazed around the store and nervously approached the owner. One of the boys said: "Sir, we’d like something in yellow flowers, please."

The man immediately realized that this was a very special occasion. He showed them some inexpensive yellow spring flowers. The boy who was the spokesman for the group shook his head. "I think we’d like something better than that."

The man asked, "Do they have to be yellow?" The boy answered, "Yes, sir. You see, Mickey would like ’em better if they were yellow. He had a yellow sweater. I guess he’d like yellow better than any other color."

The man asked, "Are they for his funeral?"

The boy nodded, suddenly choking up. The little girl was struggling to keep back the tears. "She’s his sister," the boy said. "He was a swell kid. A truck hit him while he was playing in the street." The boy’s lips were trembling now. The other boy entered into the conversation. "Us kids in his block took up a collection. We got eighteen cents. Would roses cost an awful lot, sir -- yellow roses, I mean?"

The man smiled. "It just happens that I have some nice yellow roses here that I’m offering special today for eighteen cents a dozen." The man pointed to the flower case.

"Gee, those would be swell! Yes, Mickey’d sure like those."

The man said, "I’ll make up a nice spray with ferns and ribbons. Where do you want me to send them?" One of the boys responded, "Would it be all right, mister, if we took them with us? We’d kind of like to, you know, give ’em to Mickey ourselves. He’d like it better that way."

The florist fixed the spray of flowers and accepted the eighteen cents and then watched the youngsters trudge out of the store. And within his heart he felt the warm glow of the presence of God. "1

Our text for today is about such love and such extravagant giving from one’s heart. It is also about an upcoming funeral, the funeral of Jesus.

Jesus is on his way to Jerusalem for the Passover and stops in Bethany to visit with his friends, Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. It was six days before the Passover and therefore six days till the passion of Jesus starts.

Mary, Martha and of course Lazarus were well acquainted with Jesus as he had raised Lazarus from the dead. He stopped in for dinner, or supper and a brief visit while he continued his journey to Jerusalem.

Martha was doing the serving, as we know she always did quite well. Martha did not sit at the feet of Jesus, but she always went about her tasks and I would guess with love, joy and a willingness to serve. Notice Jesus did not condemn her for her service, but allowed her to cook and serve. Serving others is honorable.

A pastor said: " As a memento of a retreat I attended, I was given a small towel with a hand-stitched design symbolizing Jesus washing His disciples’ feet. That towel served mostly as a decoration for a few years until one of my daughters accidentally used it to clean the car. The commemorative towel has been scrubbed with stain remover and sent through the washer, but it’s indelibly marked by grease and grime.

At first I was miffed at having my memento used to wash hubcaps and bumpers. But then I began to see that towel as a picture of myself, and it caused me to ask some questions. When it comes to serving others, do I reserve myself for special occasions instead of doing an ordinary job today? When Jesus washed and wiped His disciples’ feet, didn’t His towel get dirty? What’s a towel for -- decoration or demonstration?

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