What Jesus Did! 'Memories of Extravagance' — John 12:1-3

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Six days before the Passover festival, Jesus went to Bethany. Bethany is the town where Lazarus lived. (Lazarus is the man Jesus raised from death.) In Bethany they had a dinner for Jesus. Martha served the food. Lazarus was one of the people eating with Jesus. Mary brought in a pint of very expensive perfume made from pure nard. Mary poured the perfume on Jesus' feet. Then she wiped his feet with her hair. And the sweet smell from the perfume filled the whole house.
— John 12:1-3
Illustration of John 12:1-3 —  And the sweet smell from the perfume filled the whole house.

Key Thought

Our sense of smell is powerful. It can attract or repel us. It can excite or inhibit us. Most of all, it can deeply embed a memory and call it back powerfully to the surface of our emotions when the fragrance reappears. This situation is one that will be anchored in the memory of all who participated. This story would be told and re-told by them every time they caught even the faintest whiff of the same aroma. But more than just the literal fragrance, they would remember the beautiful aroma of extravagant love demonstrated by Mary. When we truly know that Jesus loves us and that he ransoms those we love from death, how can we not be extravagant in our display of love for Jesus? Let's be like Mary who was more concerned to extravagantly display her love for Jesus and less concerned about the criticism of those around her!

Today's Prayer

Father, please forgive me. I confess that way too often my display of love for Jesus is passionless and predictable. I truly love and appreciate you, Jesus, for your unbelievable sacrifice and the victory over death that you purchased for me by your agony. O Father, help me be less concerned about criticism from others and more free to show my love for my Savior. In Jesus' precious name I pray. Amen.

Today's Verses in Context

Six days before the Passover festival, Jesus went to Bethany. Bethany is the town where Lazarus lived. (Lazarus is the man Jesus raised from death.) In Bethany they had a dinner for Jesus. Martha served the food. Lazarus was one of the people eating with Jesus. Mary brought in a pint of very expensive perfume made from pure nard. Mary poured the perfume on Jesus' feet. Then she wiped his feet with her hair. And the sweet smell from the perfume filled the whole house. Judas Iscariot was there. Judas was one of Jesus' followers. (He was the one that would later be against Jesus.) {Judas did not like what Mary did.} Judas said, "That perfume was worth 300 silver coins. It should have been sold, and the money should have been given to the poor people." But Judas did not really care about poor people. Judas said this because he was a thief. Judas was the one that kept the money box {for the group of followers}. And Judas often stole money from the box. Jesus answered, "Don't stop her. It was right for her to save this perfume for today—the day for me to be prepared for burial. The poor people will always be with you. But you will not always have me." Many of the Jews heard that Jesus was in Bethany. So they went there to see Jesus. They also went there to see Lazarus. Lazarus was the one Jesus raised from death. So the leading priests made plans to kill Lazarus too. Because of Lazarus, many Jews were leaving {their leaders} and believing in Jesus. That is why the Jewish leaders wanted to kill Lazarus too. The next day the people in Jerusalem heard that Jesus was coming there. These were the many people that had come to the Passover festival. The people took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Jesus. The people shouted, "'Praise Him! Welcome! God bless the One that comes in the name of the Lord!' God bless the King of Israel!" Jesus found a donkey and rode on it. This was like the Scripture says: "Do not be afraid, city of Zion ! Look! Your king is coming. He isriding on a young donkey." The followers of Jesus did not understand at that time what was happening. But after Jesus was raised to glory, they understood that these things were written about him. Then the followers remembered that they had done these things for him. There were many people with Jesus when he raised Lazarus from death and told him to come out of the tomb. Now those people were telling other people about what Jesus did. Many people went out to meet Jesus, because they heard that Jesus did this miracle. So the Pharisees said to each other, "Look! Our plan is not working. All the people are following him!"

John 12:1-19

Related Scripture Readings

When Mary heard this, she stood up and went quickly to Jesus. Jesus had not yet come into the village. He was still at the place where Martha met him. The Jews who had come were with Mary in the house. They were comforting her. They saw Mary stand and leave quickly. They thought that she was going to the tomb {of Lazarus}. They thought she was going there to cry. So they followed her. Mary went to the place where Jesus was. When she saw Jesus, she bowed at his feet. Mary said, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died." Jesus said, "Move the stone away." Martha said, "But Lord, it has been four days since Lazarus died. There will be a bad smell." Martha was the sister of the dead man (Lazarus). Then Jesus said to Martha, "Remember what I told you? I said that if you believed, then you would see the glory of God." So they moved the stone away from the entrance. Then Jesus looked up and said, "Father, I thank you that you heard me. I know that you always hear me. But I said these things because of the people here around me. I want them to believe that you sent me." After Jesus said this he called in a loud voice, "Lazarus, come out!" The dead man (Lazarus) came out. His hands and feet were wrapped with pieces of cloth. He had a handkerchief covering his face. Jesus said to the people, "Take the cloth off of him and let him go."

John 11:29-32, 39-44

It was now only two days before the Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread. The leading priests and teachers of the law were trying to find a way to arrest Jesus without the people seeing it. Then they could kill him. They said, "But we cannot arrest Jesus during the festival. We don't want the people to become angry and cause a riot." Jesus was in Bethany. He was eating in the house of Simon the leper. While Jesus was there a woman came to him. The woman had an alabaster jar filled with very expensive perfume. This perfume was made of pure nard. The woman opened the jar and poured the perfume on Jesus' head. Some of the followers there saw this. They became upset and complained to each other. They said, "Why waste that perfume? That perfume was worth a full year's work. It could be sold and the money could be given to poor people." And they criticized the woman strongly. Jesus said, "Don't bother the woman. Why are you troubling her? She did a very good thing for me. You will always have poor people with you. You can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. This woman did the only thing she could do for me. She poured perfume on my body. She did this before I die to prepare me for burial. I tell you the truth. The Good News will be told to people in all the world. And in every place where the Good News is told, the story of what this woman did will also be told. The thing she has done will be told and people will remember her."

Mark 14:1-9

Thanks be to God for his gift that is too wonderful to explain.

2 Corinthians 9:15

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About This Devotional

What Jesus Did is a one-year devotional guide through the gospels, using one short passage each day and following the Gospel in consecutive order. Each devotional consists of a passage, reflection and a prayer which opens up the day's scripture and shows how it challenges you to live for Jesus.

What Jesus Did! is written by Phil Ware.

Easy-to-Read Version copyright © 2001 by World Bible Translation Center. All rights reserved.