Good morning all! Holy Monday kicks off our week. Here we go…
Today’s scripture: John 12:1-8
12 Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 2 There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. 3 Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. 4 But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, 5 “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?” 6 (He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.) 7 Jesus said, “Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. 8 You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.”
Back up just a few verses in the gospel of John from yesterday. Rewind from revolution and parades. Bring down your palm branch and your political voice for just a moment. Rewind to just before the disciples feet are washed but just after Lazarus has been raised from the dead. For the gospel of John, Lazarus really kicks off holy week and gets the authorities to thinking that Jesus needs to be out of the picture. So stay with that moment just for a second because this story that will begin our Monday morning happens right after that. This is the moment of contentment right after Mary and Martha’s brother is brought back to life but just before things start to get really really messy.
This is the story that we sometimes look over because we aren’t sure what to do with it. What do you do with this woman who anoints Jesus feet and the disciples don’t get it and Jesus tells us we will always have the poor but not him? What do you do with all of that?
A few ideas come to mind…first of all, Mary gets it. In the gospel of John, Mary is the one named for anointing Jesus. Where this story appears in other places, the woman is unnamed but in John this just makes sense. The disciples and Jesus are in Mary’s home and Jesus has just raised her brother from the dead. She is ultimately grateful and is continuously showing up in John as getting what it means to be a disciple. This scenario is no different. She gets it. She gets it above all of the men disciples in the room. She can read the room and what Jesus is doing. In a true disciple move, she throws herself down at Jesus’ feet (a move that Jesus will show very soon after as the move of a servant and disciple in washing the disciples feet).
Then the men in the room question the cost. But here’s the deal, a disciple is extravagant too. She gets that notion too. When there is love and caring, there is also generosity and extravagance. Her well time extravagance achieves a more meaningful purpose when used now. It counters the smell of death when Lazarus is around. It anoints Jesus in a prophetic act. It readies him for what is to come. Her love is lavish and full of discipleship.
I can learn a lot from Mary this morning. Sometimes when I think about doing the work of ministry, I get stingy. I want to save so that we can do more. I want to hold back so I can prepare myself. I don’t want to look ahead to what might need to happen. Mary counters all of this in this one little story. If we are true disciples, we are generous and extravagant with our love. We move towards what is to be and acknowledging what might happen. We are following Jesus to the extreme and creating prophetic acts to show where he might be in the world. Mary puts all of herself out into the world…all of her vulnerability. All of her love. All of her fears. All of her whole self. As a disciple, perhaps I need to put more of my whole self out into the world.
There is a video out in the world that reminds me of this when I watch it. What will I do with my day? It comes from Soul Pancake and it might help to motivate this morning…enjoy…
What will you do today? How will you shower extravagance as a disciple?