Lazarus had been raised from the dead and now Jesus is a guest of Lazarus along with Mary and Martha. They are preparing a dinner. Well…at least Martha is preparing a dinner for Jesus. Mary does something very different…
Six days before the Passover, Jesus arrived at Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.
But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages. ‘” He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.
“Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. ” [It was intended] that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.”
Meanwhile a large crowd of Jews found out that Jesus was there and came, not only because of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. So the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus as well, for on account of him many of the Jews were going over to Jesus and putting their faith in him.
Overwhelmed with grief and disappointment, she took the perfume in her hands. His body had to be prepared for burial. He was too young to pass this early and the pain was too much. She did not want to face the reality, but she had to honor her brother in his death so she made her way to apply the spices and perfume as was the custom. Along the way, the overwhelming emotions of sadness, anger, and disappointment welled up within her. She collapsed to the ground, poured out her soul still holding the perfume that she would pour out onto his body.
We have to remember that when Jesus first heard that Lazarus had died, he waited four days before arriving. The funeral ritual would have required Lazarus’ body to be perfumed and oiled in preparation for burial. After the stone was placed in front of the tomb, Jesus arrived and called Lazarus out of death. No one, not even His followers expected this great miracle. They had seen His power over nature and sickness, but He even gives and takes permission away from death. The passage we just read has Jesus, now returned to Lazarus and his sisters Mary and Martha, preparing for supper. Martha rushes around preparing supper, but Mary pours perfume upon the feet of our Lord. I wonder if it was the same perfume used to prepare her brother’s body for burial. Now, she uses it to worship the Lord for what He has done. Jesus brought her brother back to her so she takes what was intended for death and fills the room with the aroma of gratitude that could only come from a broken heart made whole again.
As things die in our life, we anoint them. We pour out our tears, with sadness and pain. These things are necessary for us to mourn what has died. Dreams perish. Relationship end. Hopes dissipates. To put them in the past, we pour out the anguish of our soul. But what is our response when the Lord restores life in what we thought was dead? Do we take the same passion in the ritual of death and give it to the Lord in worship? It seems that we cry and wail over those things that die, but when the Lord brings life where death had won, we stifle our worship. We do not worship with the same fervor. We hold back. We may serve Him as Martha did. We may do our Christian duty, but do we fall at His feet with deep affection and praise Him. Isn’t this why He has resurrected situations and circumstances time after time so that we might sit at His feet and pour our love out to Him?
If you have experienced the death of something within you, perhaps you have wept, screamed, fought, stomped, stayed in bed for days, cut your skin, and maybe even tried to take your life. But has the Lord called out from the tomb these situations? Has He healed you from what you never thought you could be healed from? If the Lord has done this for you, forget about who is around. Forget about the expectations and deadlines of life. Push all of this out of your mind. Fall at His feet and worship Him freely. He has turned your death into life and He is worthy of all our praise.
We have all experienced death in many ways, but all the more we have experienced the life-giving touch of our Lord Jesus Christ. Let us weep. Let us dance. Let us leap and shout. Let us sound off with all our might. Let us pour out our soul. When we learn to worship freely, our life will be filled with the sweet aroma of Jesus, the Rose of Sharon.