Waiting is anxiety-producing for many of us.
Jesus began His earthly ministry knowing the how’s, the why’s. the when’s of the end. Oh my yes! His death and resurrection would change history as all knew it (and still does).
How did Our Lord who would soon become the Lamb spend his last days before the notable Passover meal with His disciples? What did He think about? Was He focused on the lost sheep of Israel or did He pour into His disciples because only a short time was left with them?
I get anxious even typing those questions.
But Jesus is our supernatural peace. Did He allow Himself to have this peace before the weight of the world fell upon Him?
Six days before the Passover meal, Jesus reclined at a dinner party given in His honor. His friendship with Lazarus, Martha and Mary preceded this occasion. These three believed He was the Messiah, for He had given Lazarus life after Martha pronounced him dead, knowing the unmistakable odor of decay (John 11:38-39).
A miracle recently done in their midst echoed in the way Martha and Mary both fussed. Martha comes under much scrutiny, but the text specifically says she “served” Jesus, Lazarus, Judas and whomever else was present (John 12:2-5).
It is a way I shall strive to be remembered, that I served my Lord.
It shall not be this way among you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be your slave – just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many (Matthew 20:26-28).
I wouldn’t call Mary a slave, but Judas might.
As she laid low, literally at Jesus’s feet, Mary unleashed an expensive perfume. Scripture doesn’t tell us who paid for it, but we know who objected.
Picture for a moment a room full of men, each with their own body odor and attitudes. They were not sitting in chairs, they were reclining on the floor by the table.
Mary cared not what these men thought of her.
Though her heart may have been pounding, she got low and stayed low. Once there, she poured herself and the perfume all over the bare, dusty feet of Jesus. The God-man who had befriended them, who had taken care of all three of them by saving Lazarus. Jesus often visited their humble home, but this time may be one of the last.
Have we given our all in times of wait? It is tempting to hold back, to wait until … but Mary focused on the present moments with her Lord.
So teach us to number our days, that we may present a heart of wisdom (Psalm 90:12).
It was not customary for women to let down their hair in such a setting. Whatever fell from Mary’s eyes, whatever sweat may have been on her hands, and the powerful scent looming in the room, the scent of a burial and a tomb …
Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume, she poured it on Jesus’s feet and wiped His feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume (John 12:3).
In some ways, this perfume, which Jesus said was “intended for the burial” (John 12:7) was to remind of Mary, Martha and Lazarus of His coming death. The house was filled. You and I both know strong perfume doesn’t just wash off nor does the fragrance evaporate quickly.
Why would his friends choose to think ahead about the burial as they waited for His death?
Why would Jesus bring up His burial at this dinner party?
If we numbered our days like Martha, Mary, Lazarus and Jesus, we would celebrate life even as we waited for the big tax bill, the second round of treatments, the visit to our son or daughter in jail.
Waiting is death if we don’t live in the wait. Anxiety of what’s coming will rob each unfolding, given day.Tweet
Judas spoke up with his angst over spending all kinds of money on this perfume. Judas is the only one recorded in Scripture that is bothered by this extravagance. It is much like a thief to accuse others, throwing everyone off his trail.
Jesus saw the wolf in sheep’s clothing squawking about the poor. Jesus knew this wolf would attend the Passover meal in six days. Jesus knew Judas’s days were numbered.
“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” (John 12:7-8).
Jesus came to Mary’s defense and warned all who could hear that He was leaving soon.
Jesus comes to our defense, even now.
Sometimes we just have to stand still and remember He wages war with His angel army unseen.
As we anticipate scary unknowns, let us remember this dinner party less than a week before Jesus hung on the Cross … that He took time to care for those around Him … even that He took time to talk with Judas whose betrayal of Him was imminent … that He allowed Himself to be fussed over without guilt or interruption.
Jesus accepted the gifts Mary and Martha readily gave Him. Jesus did not rush the sisters or prematurely dismiss them, as some will do because they don’t want to be the center of attention. If that is you, remember Jesus, our humble servant who welcomed others to serve Him.
I don’t know what kind of wait you are in. I am waiting for time and inspiration to finish my book. I am waiting for God’s healing in our son Jackson. I am waiting for my first trimester final grades.
God has sent us a multitude of prayer warriors. God put us in a neighborhood where people help each other, often without being asked. Sometimes it is hard to just say thank you because someone stands in front of you with arms wide open, saying yes this is for you.
We become a blessing to givers when we graciously accept. We bless His name as we receive from others, for it pleases the Father to see His family taking care of each other.
Let us stand in this example Jesus gave us of waiting with grace, with humility and with focus on the present, not the future which we cannot control. Let His truth silence the lie that says you must always be the one to give, to serve, to lift up others or else you have failed, you are lazy, you are not a good servant.
God sees you. He knows your wait. He will not leave you alone in this time.
Thank you for joining me this Holy Week for reflections and study in His Word. I will be honest. I am looking forward to my first feet-washing experience this Thursday. In our denomination, feet-washing is recognized as an ordinance. We shall do because Jesus did. And Good Friday and the silent Saturday … though somber, I believe it is necessary in our walk to remember our own sin (past and present) which was nailed to that Cross. I believe it is necessary to look at Jesus nailed there, to know it could have been us.
I will return with more reflections later in the week. If you need prayer this Holy Week, please email me at email@example.com. You may want to know more about it because you don’t get really get all the posts you see about it. I am here to listen, but let’s start with email.
Have a wonder-full rest of your Tuesday.
All photos are from Pixabay.com.
Love in Christ,