Scripture Focus: John 12.4-9
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.
Reflection: Mary and Judas
By John Tillman
The raising of Lazarus, in chapter 11, is the seventh sign John has arranged to tell us who Jesus is. After presenting these signs, John shows us the responses. He begins with the responses of two of his close followers, Mary and Judas.
I’ve written before that Mary seems to be the only one of Jesus’ friends to realize what the signs meant. She did the theological math. She gave her offering knowing Jesus was about to give his life.
Judas did some math as well. He realized that he didn’t want to follow the path Jesus was on. John tells us that Judas stole from the money bag. This highlights the difference between Mary and Judas. Her response to Jesus’ identity and to what Jesus is about to do was to say, “What can I give?” So she gave her all. Judas’s response was, “What can I get?”
He criticized Mary’s extravagance, but Jesus shut him down, saying, “Leave her alone.” So he took what the world gave him: money, guilt, and death.
The detail of Judas being an embezzler hints that his betrayal of Jesus wasn’t an instant or impulsive decision. Betrayal kissed his heart long before he kissed Jesus’ face.
When Jesus came to Bethany after Lazarus had died, Mary and Martha knew he had delayed. They knew he could have prevented Lazarus from dying. Mary wouldn’t come out to see Jesus until he called for her. Jesus wept with her in her grief before he raised Lazarus. Then she wept in grief over Jesus, before following him to the cross.
When we look at Jesus, we have a choice. It is our turn to respond.
Like Mary, you may be in a moment of doubt or confusion. Like Judas, your heart may already hold sins and betrayals you are ashamed of. You may be unsure of Jesus or wondering about him. Or you may know someone who is.
Every rebuke from Jesus is also a call to come close. Come to him like Mary. Look again at the signs John described:
He makes something from nothing. (John 2.1-11)
He heals the dying. (John 4.46-54)
He motivates the paralyzed. (John 5.1-15)
He feeds the hungry. (John 6.5-14)
He delivers from chaos. (John 6.15-24)
He makes the blind see. (John 9.1-7)
He raises the dead. (John 11.1-45)
Who could this be except the Son of God? You can trust him and follow him, even to the cross.
Divine Hours Prayer: A Reading
The woman said to him, “I know that Messiah—that is, Christ—is coming; and when he comes he will explain everything.” Jesus said, “That is who I am, I who speak to you.” — John 4.25-26
Genesis 13 (Listen 2:16)
John 12 (Listen 6:26)
Read more about The Fragrance of Faith
Mary of Bethany’s anointing of Christ on his last trip to Jerusalem is intimately connected to the gospel—Christ said that it would be.
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