Series: Easter: This Changes Everything
Preacher: Dany Hernandez
Reflection: Sam Millen
Live Wonder: Bec Reid
Live Adventure: Jess Lee
Live Beyond: Art Preuss
Live Purpose: Don Pate
Editor: Becky De Oliveira
Refresh: Begin with prayer. Ask for the Holy Spirit to open your heart to new understanding and for God’s character to be revealed.
Read: John 12:1-19 in the New Living Translation (NLT). Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: Some have thought that Mary of Bethany (near Jerusalem), Mary Magdalene (of Magdala on the Sea of Galilee), and the “sinful woman” who also anointed the feet of Jesus (Luke 7:36-50) were the same person. I believe they were three different women. Mary of Bethany was accustomed to being at the feet of Jesus. When Jesus had visited their home before, Martha was serving the guests (as in this story). Where was Mary back then? As in this story, she was at the feet of Jesus (see Luke 10:38–42). N.T. Wright in his book, For All God’s Worth: True Worship and the Calling of the Church (Eerdmans, 1997), observes how “she has assumed the posture of a disciple, a learner . . . which is the equivalent, in that culture, to somebody sitting at a desk in a classroom in modern Western life. You sit at the feet of a rabbi, like Saul of Tarsus sitting at the feet of Gamaliel, in order that one day you may be a rabbi yourself” (p. 86). Back then it was unusual for women to sit and learn at the feet of a rabbi and this is another example of how Jesus treated men and women equally.
Jesus is in their home once more. On this occasion, Mary’s relationship with Jesus had dramatically shifted. He was no longer solely the rabbi she admired. This time, she was not at His feet to learn. She owed Him everything. It is hard to quantify the gratitude Mary felt towards Jesus for bringing her brother back to life. My own brother lives on the other side of a vast ocean. Despite the two of us serving our church as pastors on separate continents, there will always remain a strong bond between us. Fortunately, I have never had to bury a sibling. Perhaps some of you can personally relate to the disorienting grief experienced by Mary (and Martha) as recorded in the previous chapter of John’s gospel. Even Jesus wept as He saw the pain and anguish all around Him in Bethany. In a short span of time, Mary was dizzyingly propelled from the depths of despair to the ecstatic jubilation of witnessing her wildest dreams come true. Lazarus had appeared in broad daylight with only grave clothes on! I have gone on some wild roller coaster rides (the wooden ones are always the best!) but this overused analogy for life’s emotional ups and downs simply cannot do the scene outside Lazarus’ tomb justice. Not from Mary’s point of view.
In Chapter 11, Mary had collapsed at the feet of Jesus (Verse 32), grieving uncontrollably (Verse 33). At that point she was certain it was too late for her brother to live. With no chapter breaks in the original text and only a plot to kill Jesus separating the two scenes, she poured expensive perfume on the feet recently soaked by her tears. Her act of gratitude for the miraculous undoing of her brother’s burial was paradoxically preparing Jesus for His own burial (John 12:7).
Recalibrate: If you had an opportunity to honor someone for saving a loved one’s life, what would you do? Is having this person over for dinner as a special guest in your home enough? Are expensive gifts necessary? Does your approach have anything to do with your love language?
Respond: Drop off a thank you note/card at your local fire department or hospital emergency department (Extra credit: drop off chocolate).
Research: Familiarize yourself with the five love languages.
Remember: “Because of Lazarus many Jews were leaving them and believing in Jesus” (John 12:11, ICB).
Sam Millen is the pastor at Anacortes Adventist Fellowship in Washington State. He his wife Angie is a schoolteacher on Orcas Island and their three children are really awesome!
Bake a special treat with your little one today. While involving them as much as possible in the process, ask them to think about someone who might love to receive the special treat from them—it could be a neighbor, family member, teacher, or someone in their “community.” Talk with your little one about how God loves to show His love to us in many different ways and how He loves to use us to show His love to others.
When I was little I had lots of toys that I really liked. I had a big yellow teddy, a Barbie house and camper, and a cool yellow walkman. But my favorite thing was a little red blanket that had shiny red ribbon around the edge. I would take that blanket everywhere with me. What’s your favorite thing you own? Did you know that we are all God’s favorites?
After some time, Jesus and His disciples came back to Bethany for Sabbath dinner at his friends’ (Mary, Martha, and Lazarus) house. As Jesus and His disciples are sitting together with Lazarus, Martha, Lazarus’ sister, is busy serving everybody, but Mary does something that brings attention to herself.
Did you know that back then there were no tables or chairs like we have today? People sat on rugs and pillows and ate food with their hands. In some cases, people reclined on each other for support during a meal. This was not unusual. Now imagine this—all of those people that were sitting around on that rug, Martha is bringing food for them, they are all talking and enjoying each other’s company, when all of a sudden, Mary comes in and begins to pour a very expensive perfume on Jesus’ feet. It is so expensive, that you would have to save for an entire year before you could afford a perfume like that. Let’s not forget that everyone is watching her now.
Let’s get real—Have you ever believed in Jesus but refused to confess Him for fear of losing your friends and/or their approval? What makes you hesitant about sharing your faith? Do you give your best to Jesus or is He just an afterthought?
Yesterday we reflected upon the fact that Jesus spent 20 years knowing He was going to be brutally murdered. He was OK with that but His disciples sure weren’t. After the disciples had been with Jesus for a while, He began to share with them what He knew about the future, and they did not want to hear it. “I’ve got some bad news for you. . . .” His followers tried to act like He wasn’t saying what He was saying. They tried to brush it aside and He kept pressing the matter until they started to argue with Him. Several gospel stories tell of how they tried to change His mind. One even implies that Peter actually got frustrated over the idea and shook Jesus by the collar! (That’s actually the implication in the original language!) That’s where Jesus said, “Dude, right now you are acting like Satan!” (Matthew 16 and Mark 8). Here God was going to do the best thing the universe had ever seen and the disciples wanted to argue with Him! And it makes me wonder how often you and I want to argue with God . . . how silly.
Bec Reid is a real estate agent within her family business. She lives in Sydney, Australia, and is a part of the Wahroonga Adventist Church community.
Jess Lee is an education consultant for the New South Wales Adventist education system. She lives in Sydney, Australia, and attends Kellyville Church.
Art Preuss pastors in Massachusetts at the Springfield, Florence, and Warren Adventist churches and serves in the U. S. Air Force Reserve as a chaplain.
Don Pate is “retired” in Tennessee after decades of teaching and pastoring but is still active in speaking and creating for the Kingdom.