Arrival at Bethany

Just a week before Passover, Jesus arrives at Bethany. The Pharisees and chief priests are on high alert, looking for Jesus, wanting to arrest him and complete their mission to kill him. Apparently they have Lazarus in their sights as well.

Mary, the sister of Lazarus, pours expensive perfume on the feet of Jesus–crazy thing number one–then wipes it with her hair–crazy thing number two. The house is filled with a pleasing aroma. How Mary acquired such a large amount of perfume is not explained, but it must have been something that took a lot of time. Her loyalty to Jesus began before he raised Lazarus from the dead, an event that cemented her resolve beyond comprehension. I like to believe she was looking for the opportunity to do this crazy thing and the Holy Spirit prompted her to act in this place at this time.

Such extravagance sets Judas’ heart firmly against Jesus. In any ministry there are debates about what should be done, when and where, etc. Judas was probably the one that kept asking logistical, seemingly practical questions about their next steps. Time and time again, the other disciples, as well as Jesus, kept doing that which just wasn’t logical. The voice in Judas’ head must have kept moving him on a different path and this was just another example of how Jesus and “those disciples” missed the practical point of ministry. What is Jesus thinking? “Leave her alone,” Jesus replies. Judas’ mind must have been going in all directions like an OCD person playing pick-up sticks.

The crowds are continuing to swell as stories about Jesus grow. People want to see Jesus and Lazarus. The chief priests want nothing to do with this and are looking for ways to put an end to this “distracting” regime.

For on account of him many of the Jews were going over to Jesus and believing in him.

Jesus sees it all. He sees Judas’ heart hardened completely in this moment. This has to be an incredibly painful moment for Jesus. God does not find joy in seeing the lost. I fully believe that God wants all to come to him, but there are so many who simply choose to go their own way.

Lord, during this Christmas season help us to see the plans you have for us, your plans and not ours. Show us how to take what we have, precious gifts or everyday attire and freely give them to you for your kingdom here on earth.

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Let the Word evoke words. May your life encourage lives.

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