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JOHN - The Light Shines in the Darkness
A Bible Study Course on the Gospel of Christ according to John
PART 3 - Light Shines in the Circle of the Apostles (John 11:55 - 17:26)
A - Prelude to Holy Week (John 11:55 - 12:50)

1. Jesus anointed in Bethany (John 11:55 – 12:8)

JOHN 11:55-57
55 Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand. Many went up from the country to Jerusalem before the Passover, to purify themselves. 56 Then they sought for Jesus and spoke one with another, as they stood in the temple, “What do you think - that he isn’t coming to the feast at all?” 57 Now the chief priests and the Pharisees had commanded that if anyone knew where he was, he should report it, that they might seize him.

The Passover was the main feast in the Old Testament, celebrating the rescue of the Hebrews from the divine wrath in Egypt. Thereby, they lived under the protection of the divine Lamb prepared for them. They deserved to die, but faith saved them.

Annually, the Jews would visit Jerusalem to thank God for guarding them from his wrath. There they slew myriads of lambs and ate them. Many used to go to Jerusalem beforehand to be purified through repentance, ready to be united with the Lamb of God, that they would eat at the Passover feast. If anyone had touched a corpse he had to observe a series of cleansings for seven days to deserve entry into God’s temple (Numbers 19:11).

At this season the pilgrims inquired about Jesus the Nazarene, "Will he come or will they not see him?" After all, they knew that the religious Council had secretly decided to condemn him to death. They asked many in the nation to spy on Jesus and inform them if they had seen him somewhere, in order to seize him. The jaws of death were open to swallow Jesus.

JOHN 12:1-3
1 Then six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, who had been dead, whom he raised from the dead. 2 So they made him a supper there. Martha served, but Lazarus was one of those who sat at the table with him. 3 Mary, therefore, took a pound of ointment of pure nard, very precious, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the ointment.

Jesus had no fear of his enemies’ cunning but kept on his way to Jerusalem in accord with his Father’s will. He did not seek reclusion, but returned to Jerusalem a week before the Feast. He passed through Bethany, three kilometers from the Capital. He came to the house where he had demonstrated his power and glorified his Father by overcoming death. Lazarus lived on to eat, drink and walk through the market. People saw him, were amazed yet fearful of the prospect of death and the sight of phantoms.

Mary, Martha and Lazarus had experienced God’s glory and bore witness to it, despite threats from the Council. He welcomed Jesus and his disciples and offered him a banquet with great joy. Lazarus was a friend of Jesus and he sat beside the One who had raised him from the dead. Does not this picture tell us something about Paradise? God will not be far off, but we shall sit with him in glory.

Martha, an accomplished house keeper, opened up the treasures of her home, offering what she had knowing Jesus was the true Messiah, victor over death.

Mary, more mystical, honored Jesus in her own way, bringing a flask of costly perfume worth almost a year’s wages of a laborer. She longed to give Jesus what she most treasured. But she felt unworthy to anoint his head so instead she anointed his feet with her life’s treasures. Love is not mean but sacrifices amply. Afterwards she wiped his feet with her hair. This act of love, sincere and holy, filled the house with a pervasive perfume. All who were present were filled with the scent of Mary’s sacrifice.

JOHN 12:4-6
4 Then Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, one of his disciples, who would betray him, said, 5 “Why wasn’t this ointment sold for three hundred denarii, and given to the poor?” 6 Now he said this, not because he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and having the money box, used to steal what was put into it.

Judas loved money more than he loved Jesus, preferring the material to genuine faith. So he sought to explain the sacrifice in terms of cash, ignoring the spiritual blessing linked to it. He failed to grasp the sense of Mary’s adoration, thanksgiving and surrender to Christ. Whoever loves money becomes a devil. Strangely, he concealed his hatred for Jesus with a bogus piety, as if he purposed a charitable act to relieve the poor. He did not actually feel for them, nor wish to give them anything, rather he wished to acquire the money for himself. Charity for him was a cover for theft, keeping more in his pocket than he gave to the poor; not faithful in small things, but a thief in intent and thought.

Jesus did not examine any accounts of this treasurer, but bore with him till the end though he knew of his treachery and misdeeds. Judas was a robber and a swindler, loving himself and the enticements of riches, and a slave to it. Brother, you cannot serve God and money. You will love the one and hate the other. Do not fool yourself. Is God your aim or is it a life of ease?

JOHN 12:7-8
7 But Jesus said, “Leave her alone. She has kept this for the day of my burial. 8 For you always have the poor with you, but you don’t always have me.”

God does not ask us to be extravagant, to pour flasks of perfume on one another’s feet but simply to open our eyes to the needs of the poor around us. No party, religion or ideology can erase Christ’s words that the poor will always be with us. Our selfishness is gross, our love thin. There cannot be a spiritual socialism on earth; nor will everyone be on a par with all others in gifts and wealth or honor. We shall find the wretched, the rejected and the isolated wherever we go, east or west. In every town or village alike, seek out the poor and in them you will see the face of Jesus.

Jesus knew that men’s hearts were hard as flint and ice-cold. He has come with the warmth of love to die for them. He also knew that the Holy Spirit had led Mary to wipe his feet and anoint him for burial. When divine love enters people, the Holy Spirit will guide to achieve unexpected marvels. Mary purposed to glorify the divine guest, so the Spirit led her to anoint him beforetime. Christ begins reconciliation of this wicked world with the God of goodness and grace.

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, we love you for raising Lazarus. You had no fear of the gloomy grave. Teach us to offer our hearts and possessions to serve you with all that is ours. Free us from meanness, hypocrisy, theft and hatred. Fill us with your love, and lead us to the path of sacrifice with thanksgiving.


  1. Why did Jesus accept Mary’s anointing?


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