THE PASSION OF CHRIST ACCORDING TO
St John 12:1-11
Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus' feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, "Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?" (He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.) Jesus said, "Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me." When the great crowd of the Jews learned that Jesus was there, they came not only because of Jesus but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. So the chief priests planned to put Lazarus to death as well, since it was on account of him that many of the Jews were deserting and believing in Jesus.
Reflection – the Calm before the Storm
St John places this narrative on the day before Palm Sunday, when the crowds went wild with excitement as Jesus entered Jerusalem. Here in Bethany the mood is quiet and reflective - at least to begin with - as Mary, the sister of Lazarus whom Jesus raised from the dead, anoints the feet of Jesus. This raising of Lazarus had led to many deserting their Jewish faith and believing in Jesus, thereby making him a marked man. As the week progresses his fate becomes sealed, but here in Bethany we have the calm – albeit an ominous calm – before the storm. Judas also emerges in his true resentful colours.
Lord God, maker and lover of all, as we contemplate again the pageant of our Lord’s betrayal, suffering and death; may neither the history, ritual, nor sentiment of this season in themselves fascinate us. Rather may our souls be grasped by what our minds alone cannot contain- that this was all for us; and so Lord, may we be all for you, Amen.
(Common Order Church of Scotland)