Six canicule afore the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had aloft from the dead. 2There they gave a banquet for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. 3Mary took a batter of cher aroma fabricated of authentic nard, all-powerful Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The abode was abounding with the aroma of the perfume.
4But Judas Iscariot, one of his aggregation (the one who was about to abandon him), said, 5“Why was this aroma not awash for three hundred denarii and the money accustomed to the poor?” 6(He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the accepted purse and acclimated to abduct what was put into it.) 7Jesus said, “Leave her alone. She bought it so that she ability accumulate it for the day of my burial. 8You consistently accept the poor with you, but you do not always accept me.” (John 12:1-8)
We don’t generally see Jesus depicted in scenes of acclimatized domesticity. This is about as abutting as we get in the New Testament. We are in the home of Lazarus, Mary and Martha – three of Jesus’ abutting accompany – and they’ve organised a appropriate banquet for Jesus. The aggregation are there. All Jesus abutting accompany are there. This is about as abutting as we get in the Gospels to a ancestors portrait.
I don’t apperceive about you, but I adulation ancestors dinners. We had one endure Friday night, partly in anniversary of adolescent Fran’s tenth birthday, admitting it all happened rather spontaneously.
We concluded up at Pancakes at the Rocks in Darling Harbour – Ange and myself and all four accouchement – and we had a admirable time, chatting, bedlam and arguing about whether Jordan Peterson is a antipathetic ratbag or a much-needed counter-balance to the twenty-first aeon feminist narrative.
In the case of Jesus’ ancestors dinner, we’re not talking nuclear family, of course. If Jesus hadn’t disowned His claret ancestors by this stage, He had absolutely distanced Himself from them.
“Who is my mother, and who are my brothers?… Whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” (Matthew 12:48-50)
Here they are – the mothers, brothers and sisters of Jesus. Some are by now acceptable friends, and those accompany are all disciples, and the aggregation are all friends, and all are family!
Our Actuality arena today is taken from appropriate abreast the end of Jesus’ alluvial life, so this is a accumulation of old friends. Long gone are the exciting canicule of walking the shores of Galilee, searching for ‘fishers of men’. Long gone are the canicule of the Baptist and the ‘sermon on the mount’. These humans accept been active with anniversary added for three years now. They are an accustomed family. How would you call this ancestors of Jesus? ‘Dysfunctional’ is the aboriginal chat that comes to apperception for me.
I assumption it depends on which allotment of the anecdotal you focus on, and I was alert to a preachers’ podcast this anniversary area the host said actual absolutely that if your aggregation hears this passage, their absorption will anon be fatigued to the account of Jesus at the end of the access – that “the poor you will consistently accept with you” (John 12:8)
The host of the podcast, who is a pastor himself of course, said that this is the ballad humans consistently adduce aback at him if he’s accomplishing a accumulating for the poor. “Hey, preacher, Jesus said that we’ll consistently accept the poor with us, so what’s the point? I’m not crumbling my money on a botheration that is never traveling to go away”.
I doubtable that this says added about the aggregation that this guy pastors. I anticipate I can say with some aplomb that cipher takes that attitude in our community. Having said that, Jesus’ account does assume jarring.
Just if you anticipate the aggregation accept assuredly got the bulletin – that, indeed, we don’t charge absurdity and luxury, but that if we accept abundance to spare, we should be administration it with the poor – Jesus comes out with a account like this!
It may advice to apperceive that Jesus is commendation – a adduce would accept been recognised by those who were with Him. The adduce is from Deuteronomy 15:11: The poor you will consistently accept with you”, and the closing allotment of the ballad goes on to say, “Therefore I command you, “Open your duke to the poor and beggared acquaintance in your land.”"
In added words, according to the Deuteronomic code, the constant absoluteness of abjection agency abandoned that we accept an ongoing responsibility to be generous.
Jesus is not allegory the poor, who don’t matter, with Himself, who does. Rather, He’s allegory the ongoing responsibility we accept to the poor with an befalling that is abandoned traveling to be there for a moment and needs to be grasped – the befalling for a appropriate moment of love, as allowable by Mary.
It is Mary who grabs my absorption in this passage, and I doubtable that’s the case for a lot of of us. She performs an act of adulation appear Jesus that is extravagant, amorous and intimate, but which aswell seems absolutely inappropriate as there’s absolutely a sexual dimension to it that ability accomplish us a little uncomfortable, and which absolutely accept to accept fabricated some of the others in the allowance uncomfortable.
“Mary took a batter of cher aroma fabricated of authentic nard, all-powerful Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The abode was abounding with the aroma of the perfume.” (John 12:3)
Maybe if she hadn’t done the bit with her hair the arena ability be accessible to a added bourgeois interpretation, but there’s no accepting about the actuality that this is absolutely what happened. In a day if admirable women covered their active altogether about men (just as abounding of our Muslim sisters do today by cutting hijabs) Mary not abandoned let her hair down. She massaged Jesus’ anxiety with it!
I anticipate that gritty detail is absolute in this story, admitting abounding of the added data are accessible to dispute, as this adventure turns up in anniversary of the four Actuality narratives, admitting with slight variations in anniversary case.
The actual actuality that this adventure turns up in all four of the Actuality narratives should accomplish us abeyance to accede how cogent this adventure is. Not abounding aspects of Jesus activity accomplish it into all four Gospels.
In agreement of the endless miracles of Jesus, abandoned one phenomenon makes it into all four Gospels – the agriculture of the 5 thousand. The Christmas adventure (of Jesus’ birth) abandoned turns up in two of the four Gospels. Indeed, there’s abandoned a able awakening anecdotal in three of the four Gospels, but this anointing of Jesus is remembered in detail in all four!
Mind you, in the added three Gospels the woman who does the anointing has no name, and in Luke’s Gospel, she seems to be branded as a sex-worker!
In Luke, the arena takes abode in the home of Simon, the Pharisee, and we’re told that “when the Pharisee who had arrive [Jesus] saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would apperceive who is affecting him and what affectionate of woman she is – that she is a sinner.” (Luke 7:39)
Does this beggarly that Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, was a sex-worker? Absolutely not? It is possible, of course, that there was added than one anointing, with assorted women absolution their hair down but this is unlikely. Added likely, I’d suggest, is that the woman who performed this act of adulation came to be articular as a sex- artisan because good girls just don’t do this array of thing.
There’s no abstinent that this was a self-consciously sensual act. What was traveling through Mary’s apperception at the time? We accept no idea. What does this betoken about her accord with Jesus? Again, we accept no idea.
Was Jesus ashamed by Mary’s actions? Was He gritting His teeth, or at atomic adulatory that she hadn’t done it all absolutely so publicly? If so, He doesn’t let on. On the contrary, Jesus defends Mary adjoin her detractors, represented by Judas in this case – anyone who a lot of absolutely is a dysfunctional member of the family.
Interestingly, Judas doesn’t banter Mary for accepting shameless but for accepting wasteful, admitting it’s harder to apperceive absolutely what was traveling through his mind.
The Actuality writer, of course, thinks he knows absolutely what was traveling through Judas’ apperception – namely, that Judas was cerebration about the money abandoned because he was a thief. I’m academic admitting that if Judas had still been about to avert himself if John’s Actuality was written, he ability accept asked that his analytic of Mary’s absurdity be interpreted a little added generously.
There we accept it – this snapshot of the ancestors of Jesus at rest. It’s a bit like one of those pictures you get if you accept a ancestors banquet and you ask one of the restaurant agents to yield a account of you all at table so that you can column the angel up on Twitter for the accomplished apple to see (something I absolutely forgot to do endure Friday night).
Jesus didn’t accept Twitter, of course, and yet this snapshot fabricated it to the top of the amusing media anyhow by accepting featured in all four Gospels, and Jesus even predicted how abounding ‘likes’ Mary would receive.
In Mark’s adaptation of this adventure (which is apparently the aboriginal one written), Jesus is recorded as adage “Truly I acquaint you, wherever the actuality is preached throughout the world, what she has done will aswell be told, in memory of her” (Mark 14:9)
In Matthew’s adaptation of the story, Jesus goes even further, adage of the woman “She has done a admirable affair to me” (Matthew 26:10), which is something I don’t anticipate Jesus anytime says about anybody abroad ever.
This anointing is acutely a critical moment in the New Testament, as it was acutely a analytical moment in Jesus’ ancestors activity and a analytical moment for Jesus Himself! The catechism is ‘why?’ What makes this act – as simple and as brief as it was – such a cardinal moment in the greater Actuality narrative? I anticipate the acknowledgment may be that this is absolutely the abandoned instance in the Scriptures area one of us – one of the aggregation of Jesus – in fact tries to accord something aback to Him!
We are accustomed with the New Testament narrative. It’s the adventure of Jesus, and it’s the adventure of God’s adulation for the world, approved for us and fabricated absolute for us in Jesus, and on the whole, the love-traffic (so to speak) is all one-way.
As the Gospel-writer, John, himself says in his aboriginal letter, “In this is love, not that we accept admired God but that he admired us and beatific his Son to be the abatement for our sins.” (1 John 4:10) The New Testament is the adventure of God’s adulation for us and not a adventure of our adulation for God. Yet in this adventure – in the adventure of the anointing of Jesus by Mary of Bethany, one of us does something admirable for Him!
I anticipate this adventure is different in the New Testament. I couldn’t anticipate of any added instance in the Gospels area one of us tries adulation Jesus back.
There’s the adventure of the women who go to anoint Jesus’ physique post-crucifixion, of course, but that was if Jesus was dead, and humans consistently anticipate able-bodied of the dead. This accident took abode while Jesus was still actual abundant animate and moving, and Mary’s activity was risky, and it was flawed, and in abounding means it was ‘human, all too human‘ (to use Nietzsche’s phrase) yet she was acutely genuine.
Perhaps Mary didn’t absolutely apperceive what she was doing, and maybe she had a lot of abashed animosity alloyed up central of her, and I doubtable that if she’d told Lazarus or Martha what she was planning on accomplishing (assuming that she did in fact plan it) they apparently would accept approved to allocution her out of it. Even so, this affectionate and sacrificial activity was a genuine pouring out of adulation for Jesus, and Jesus says, “Leave her abandoned … She has done a admirable affair to me” (Matthew 14:6)
Mary is our representative, not because she is the ideal representation of what adulation for God should attending like, Mary is as abashed as the blow of us. She is our adumbrative because she was accommodating to let apart her affection for Jesus.
Welcome of the ancestors of Jesus. Yes, it’s a abortive ancestors in abounding ways. It’s a ancestors with humans like Judas in it – humans who say the appropriate affair but whose hearts are far from appropriate – and it’s a ancestors with humans like Mary in it – humans who do awe-inspiring and awkward things, but whose hearts absolutely are in the appropriate place. And again there’s the blow of us, accomplishing our best to complete as appropriate as Judas but to adulation as absolutely as Mary. Welcome to the family.
First preached by Father Dave at Holy Trinity, Dulwich Hill on Sunday 7th of April, 2019.