A. The Passover –John 12:1Then, six days before the Passover, … (John 12:1 A NKJ) The last of the ten plagues in Egypt was the death of the first born. In order to protect themselves from that plague, Israelites were instructed to put the blood of a lamb on their door posts. This blood pre-figured the blood of the LAMB Whose sacrifice would save God’s people from their sins -
The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, "Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! (John 1:29 NKJ)
… For indeed Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us. (1 Corinthians 5:7 NKJ)
The second great event in view here was the raising of Lazarus, this event is celebrated in both an ordinary and extraordinary way –
B1. The ordinary celebration – A marvelous meal
Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was who had been dead, whom He had raised from the dead. 2 There they made Him a supper; and Martha served, but Lazarus was one of those who sat at the table with Him. (John 12:1B-2 NKJ)
Note it says they made Him a supper, this supper was obviously in honor of Jesus and in this sense, it is a model for many of the meals we have as a church.
Lazarus, as he who was raised also is given a place of honor with Jesus.
Lazarus is said to be “one of those” who were given such an honor, probably at least some of Jesus’ apostles are also honored at this meal. We know Judas was in attendance. The other Gospels indicate this event was held at Simon the Leper home.
B2. The extraordinary celebration – Mary’s extravagant actions –
3 Then Mary took a pound of very costly oil of spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil. (John 12:3 NKJ)
Considering Judas’ statement in verse 5 - "Why was this fragrant oil not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?" (John 12:5 NKJ)
If Judas is correct, the current U.S. value of such perfume would be 55-60 thousand dollars! We have a saying, “put your money where your mouth is” Which means something like prove your commitment by expending something of value! The other saying is “talk is cheap.” Of course Jesus could see Mary’s heart, He knew the LOVE she had for Him - 19 We love Him because He first loved us. (1 John 4:19 NKJ)
What should we see in and learn from Mary’s actions? –
(1) Great humility and acknowledgement of sin in Christ’s presence:
(A) She imitates a woman who was a sinner, (likely a prostitute) Luke 7:36-50, who did a very similar thing!
(B) She uses her hair 15 But if a woman has long hair, it is a glory to her (1 Corinthians 11:15 NKJ) for the washing of Jesus’ feet, the humblest, dirtiest part of Him! In this she is not only imitating this other woman, but she is doing something which is quite similar to what John the Baptist said - 27 "It is He who, coming after me, is preferred before me, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose." (John 1:27 NKJ)
(2) Great love is shown in this action –
(A) Love is often shown by extreme actions, expenditures -
20 So Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed only a few days to him because of the love he had for her. (Genesis 29:20 NKJ)
(B) Self-sacrificial love is our proper response to Christ’s great sacrifice for us –
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. (Romans 12:1 NKJ)
II. The high and growing level of wickedness showing itself, both in response to Christ’s raising of Lazarus and the celebration of it –
This wickedness wells up, even in the heart of one of Jesus’ own apostles –
Then one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, who would betray Him, said, 5 "Why was this fragrant oil not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?" 6 This he said, not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the money box; and he used to take what was put in it. (John 12:4-6 NKJ)
Jesus knew Judas’ heart, as He knows all hearts –
… For the LORD does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." (1 Samuel 16:7 NKJ)
Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, But the LORD weighs the hearts. (Proverbs 21:2 NKJ)
Jesus knew of Judas’ secret stealing from the money box, and knew of his wickedness even before he stole a thing –
… Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who would betray Him. (John 6:64 NKJ)
Jesus answered them, "Did I not choose you, the twelve, and one of you is a devil?" 71 He spoke of Judas Iscariot, the son of Simon, for it was he who would betray Him, being one of the twelve. (John 6:70-71 NKJ)
We see this wickedness increasing even in the chief-priests –
But the chief priests plotted to put Lazarus to death also, 11 because on account of him many of the Jews went away and believed in Jesus. (John 12:10-11 NKJ)
I doubt this was an ordinary, regular, or routine action for “chief priests.” If Scripture said, the mob bosses decided to put Lazarus to death also, that would be bad enough, but these are not only priests, but “chief priests!” Oh, how bad the seeming best of us can be!
“What insane anger—to try to kill someone who had clearly been raised from the dead by divine power!” John Calvin
This “insane anger” is in those, who of all men, should have known better! These “chief priests” should have led the way worshipping Christ and celebrating Lazarus’ resurrection but they want to kill them both!
III. See in both the celebration and plotting of murder, the wonderful plan and providence of God -
Jesus clearly knew where all this was heading, to the cross –
But Jesus said, "Let her alone; she has kept this for the day of My burial.(John 12:7 NKJ)
Most commentaries, and I agree with them, say Mary did not realize she was doing this for this purpose.
Jesus knew exactly what He was doing - "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many." (Mark 10:45 NKJ)
Even insane anger, and Judas’ wickedness were part of God’s perfect plan for our salvation –
"who by the mouth of Your servant David have said: `Why did the nations rage, And the people plot vain things? 26 The kings of the earth took their stand, And the rulers were gathered together Against the LORD and against His Christ.' 27 "For truly against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together 28 "to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done. (Acts 4:25-28 NKJ)
Note these verses from Acts 4 are part of a context of the Apostles rejoicing in their own persecution, because they knew God was in control!