Love Your Enemies

Luke 6

Today I’d like us to focus our time on one of Jesus’ instructions from this passage. Just two verses, a few sentences, but wow are they worth looking into for a few extra minutes today.

36-‘Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to get paid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for He is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked. You must be compassionate, just as your father is compassionate.”

Love your enemies, exclamation point? Love? Lets start with the definition. Lets look at 1 Cor 13 for God’s definition of love.

4-7 “Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand it’s own way, it is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever truth wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.”

Now it is starting to come into focus a bit better for me. If I think about what love looks like from the world’s standpoint, I am talking about feelings of affection, brotherhood and goodwill toward another person. I can’t muster up those feelings for an enemy. But as I think about my enemy and interact with him or her, through the lens of 1Cor 13, “loving” begins to look different. It is by no means easy! Any form of “love your enemy” goes against our human nature. We aren’t capable of sustaining love toward someone who intends to harm us. We must remember Who’s we are. We must remember that the Most High resides in us and has begun the work of making us new creations. He is able to help us choose the action of love (1Cor 13) instead of us hoping that a loving feeling pops into our heart at the right time.

When I was a senior in High School there was a party one weekend. There was alcohol there and many of my classmates drank. I did not attend or even know about the party. (That’s how popular I was!) One of the partygoers went to my church and her parents were friends of my parents. Unbeknownst to me, her parents reached out to my parents for advice on how to deal with their child being at this party, after they found out about it from a source that to this day I am unaware of. Because my classmate knew that her parents had talked with my parents, and then she got in trouble, she assumed that I told my parents about the party, (probably out of spite because I hadn’t been invited…makes sense) and that my parents went to her parents to inform them about their daughter’s choices the night of the party. Clearly she and the rest of the popular kids were furious that they had been ratted out and punished. (I think there was a lot of grounding going on which ruined everyone’s fun for the next however many weeks or months…I can’t remember.) What I do remember is that for the rest of my senior year, I was everyone’s enemy! (…and I would like to point out that I did NOTHING!) I was devastated! I had to walk back into that school on Mon with everyone (it wasn’t really everyone, but it sure felt like it) wishing me harm, and somehow deal with all of them. I was NOT equipped to handle this! So I did what every high school girl would do and ran to tell a friend, (not my parents) how wrongly I had been treated. Because my friend was older, wiser and my youth pastor, he spent hours over the next few weeks praying with me and for me to walk into that school every day and not keep a record of wrongs. He prayed with me to ask God to help me daily have the courage to keep my big mouth shut and love those kids by being kind, patient and not demanding my own way. God helped me in one of the biggest messes of my life (to that point in my life) to never give up, never lose faith, be hopeful and endure through every circumstance.

Can we today, look with God’s lens at the people in our lives that are wishing us harm? Can we love our enemies by being patient and kind? Can we ask God to help us have the courage to keep from retaliating, to keep from being rude and to always have hope for those people?

 

Please note that my classmates got the last laugh by choosing me as “Most likely to become a minister” on the page of the year book where everyone else gets noted for having the best smile, best hair or being the class clown.

 

 

 

 

 

Luke 5

    Two weeks ago, when we were studying the gospel of Mark, I wrote about abundance.  The specific verses that I focused on revealed that Jesus sacrificed Himself on the cross so that we could have a full and abundant life in Him.  When I first read Luke 5, our text for today, I noticed that the same theme of abundance is echoed in this chapter.  This isn’t surprising.  Abundance is a character trait of Christ’s, so we can expect this theme to pop up throughout the Bible.

    In this chapter, Jesus responds to three different people by meeting their needs with more than was asked for or expected.  In Luke 5:4, Jesus tells Simon (later known as Peter) to fish off the side of the boat.  Simon hadn’t been fishing that morning because he had fished all night the evening before and caught nothing.  Yet Christ, in his goodness, filled Simon’s net with more fish than he could ever have imagined.  In fact,  Luke tells us that the disciples and the onlookers were “astonished” (Luke 5:9) at the amount of fish that were caught.

    Later in this chapter, Jesus heals a man with leprosy.  In those days, people afflicted with leprosy were basically shunned because people were fearful of catching this untreatable disease.  This man, though, walked boldly up to Christ, saying “Lord, if you are willing, you can make me clean.” (Luke 5:12).  And again, Jesus did the unimaginable:  He healed this man from this disease for which there was no cure, and He did this by reaching out and touching the leper.  Some time later, a group of men brought their paralyzed friend to where Jesus was speaking, and Jesus told the man to stand up, walk, and go home (Luke 5:24).  The people in the crowds following Jesus were first-hand observers of His early miracles, and as the news about His healings spread, Luke tells us that many “glorified God and were filled with awe”, calling what they had seen “extraordinary” (Luke 5:26).

     Each of these examples – the overabundance of fish, the healing of the man with leprosy, and the healing of the paralyzed man – point to Jesus’ love for answering our prayers in overflowing ways.  I think this chapter and its theme resonated with me so much because it reminded me of my favorite verse in all of Scripture, Ephesians 3:20-21:  “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”  Remember to ask,  because He is abundantly capable.  And let us respond with awe, reverence, and praise.

 

Into the Wilderness

Todays Reading: Luke 4

Today, we review the life of Jesus as described by Luke the physician. I have enjoyed reading these scriptures this week with the new perspective of the analytical side of Luke. In the introduction of the gospel we are reminded that Luke is one of the main writers that really looks at description as from a holistic approach.   In Chapter 4, Jesus is coming from the wilderness journey and starting his ministry.

There are some very interesting topics that unfold in this Chapter: temptation, fulfilling the scriptures, and rejection.

In the previous Chapter, Luke presents a beautiful depiction of Christ being prepared for his ministry. He has just visited John the Baptist, where he is baptized by water and the Holy Spirit. In this interaction Christ is confirmed through visual and auditory proclamation from heaven: a dove descends and rest on him and then Good vocally affirms him “ You are my Son, whom I love; with you I’m well pleased”. Then Luke gives us a beautiful genealogy, where it goes from Mary and Joseph to Adam, who was the son of God. So at the beginning of this Chapter we can see the two parts of Christ: fully human and fully divine.

The part that I am drawn to is the temptations and wilderness of Christ. Luke and Matthew are the only writers that tell the full interaction and description. After Christ is prepared for his ministry( through baptism), he does something that is true to his nature, he goes to be in commune with the Father. Throughout reading the scriptures one thing has been a constant with Christ, he searches for solitude with God. In many time he ministers to the people and crowds, he always takes time afterwards to have alone and solitude time with God. This is interesting and inspiring, the one that has the most connected relationship with the Father always makes time to be with Him.  Can we do this in our daily life with God, with others, with ourselves?

Many times we think of the wilderness as a place of desolation, separation, fear of the unknown, and isolation, but it is in this isolation that we can be most vulnerable and available to listen and understand God’s voice. The wilderness is a place of reflection and growth and peace. In the wilderness, you are the only one around. In the wilderness, there isn’t anyone else there. It is only God, you, and the animals. This is a true sanctuary.

Throughout the bible the wilderness is mentioned over 266 times. In the wilderness God prepares us for his work:

  • In Genesis, Joseph was cast into the wilderness by his brothers: preparing him for his time with Pharaoh
  • In Exodus, the Israelites are commanded to search the wilderness for forty years until the right people will take possession of the Promised Land
  • David is sent to the wilderness for protection against Saul before he can reign as king.

The question today is: Are we in need of a wilderness experience? Are we in need of a period of isolation to reconnect with the Father? If we made it a point to separate ourselves monthly, weekly, or daily to be in commune with God, how more ready will we be to face the temptations and trials of our life?

Dear Heavenly Father, we thank you for your inspiration and example of your love and devotion through Christ. We pray that as we grow in our journey with you, that we are able to recognize the times of our wilderness experience and be able to grow and listen to you, as you prepare us for the next leg of the journey. Amen

God Knows Your Name

 

When I first read through Luke 3 earlier this week, I had a moment of excitement that the last 23-38 verses were all just names. That meant that I would only have to look at the first 22 verses and give a summary of them. I hate to admit that I like to take the easy way out when possible. Well, now that I have studied this passage for 4+ days, I realized how important that list of names really is and want to walk you through the verses leading up to the genealogy:

1)  The chapter opens up listing all the powerful leaders of this     time, but John the Baptist has been chosen above them all to “prepare the way” for Jesus.

2) John the Baptist prepares the way for the coming Messiah. John reminds the people that when you believe, you need to produce fruit. He told them to do 5 things:
*If you have two coats, give one to the poor.
*If you have food, share it with those who are hungry.
*To the corrupt tax collectors, he said, show your honesty, make sure you collect no more taxes than the Roman government requires you to.
*To the soldiers, he said, don’t extort money, and don’t accuse people of things        you know they didn’t do.
*And be content with your pay.

3) Jesus was then baptized by John the Baptist in the Jordan River. This baptism represented the official start of His ministry. He began his ministry at 30 years old. He patiently waited all those years and trusted the Lord for his life and his ministry to begin.

4) The main reason for the baptism of Jesus was when the Lord came up from the water, the Father spoke from heaven and identified Him as the beloved Son of God. The Spirit visibly came upon Jesus in the form of a Dove.

But…what really caught my attention were the final 16 verses filled with the genealogy of Jesus Christ. These 16 verses are filled with 77 names of family genealogy. Luke takes a different approach and begins with Jesus and moves backward to Adam. He gives us the lineage through His mother Mary (which is unusual for this time) but used Jospeh’s name. It was known that Heli (verse 23) was Mary’s father, so when people read this, they knew that they were reading Mary’s genealogy. Luke wants to show that Jesus was a man and fully human. By putting the genealogy here, Luke reminded us that the Son of God was also the Son of man. This reminds us that Jesus truly identified with the needs and problems of all mankind.

God knows all these names that led to the birth of Jesus and His ministry on earth. God tells all the people that this is His Son! I think we all need to be reminded again and again that Jesus walked this earth and experienced life just as we do today. God put this list here for a reason. God foretold of John the Baptist and the Messiah coming,  just as He had all of these names and that Jesus would come from these families many years ago.  He knows our name and has a plan for our lives too.

Reminders and Reassurances

Today’s reading:  Luke 2

Today’s passage in Luke 2 is the account of Jesus’ birth up to age twelve.  I’ve read it many times.  As I was preparing for this post, however, I began to look at the events of this chapter from Mary’s perspective.  She was young, probably 12 or 13 at the time Jesus was born.  She was a practicing Jew (one of God’s chosen people), and had thus studied the Old Testament all her life.  She was personally visited by an angel, who told her she would give birth to God’s son, and then actually experienced the event (“experienced” is my nice way of describing the painful experience of childbirth).  Based on these facts, could Mary have had any doubt Jesus was the son of God?  How could she have lacked confidence everything was going to work out?

Alas, we must remember Mary was human. While she had found favor with God (Luke 1:30), she still had doubts.  In our reading yesterday, she was all in – “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38).  But by the second half of today’s reading, it seems as if some of her confidence had faded.  Do you sometimes find yourself on this rollercoaster?  One day everything makes sense and you’re on fire for the Lord, then the next day you don’t understand and are questioning God’s plan?  The struggles of being human and living in a sinful world get in the way.  They cause us to doubt God’s promises.   Like us, Mary sometimes needed reminders and reassurances to keep going when things got tough. Did you see a few of them in Luke 2?

First there was Simeon. The Holy Spirit had revealed to Simeon that he would not die before he saw the Messiah (Luke 2:26).  When Mary and Joseph brought Jesus into the temple, Simeon affirmed Jesus’ identity. he [Simon] took him up in his arms and blessed God and said, “Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.” (Luke 2:29-32).  But verse 33 tells us that Jesus’ parents marveled at what Simeon said about him.  Does this mean that they were surprised by his comments?  Maybe it just means they were in awe of their responsibility for raising the son of God?  Either way, I think it signals a crack in their confidence.

Next was Jesus staying behind in Jerusalem. When he was about twelve years old, Jesus had traveled to Jerusalem with his parents to celebrate the Passover.  His parents headed home to Nazareth, and unbeknownst to them, Jesus stayed in Jerusalem.  Have you ever lost your child?  I have a twelve year old son.  If I couldn’t find him, I’m pretty sure I would be frantic.  Probably a raging lunatic by the end of three days.

After three days, when Mary and Joseph found Jesus in the temple conversing with the teachers, the Bible says they were astonished (Luke 2:48).  I don’t think “astonished” here means raging lunatics, but what does it mean?  Were they surprised they found him unharmed?  Were they surprised he was holding his own with the teachers?  Or were they surprised he simply acted like nothing was wrong?  I’m not sure, but I do sense some frustration, as they scolded Jesus for causing their distress.  Jesus told them they should have known he would be in his Father’s house (Luke 2:49).  Now look at the very next verse Luke 2:50 – And they did not understand the saying that he spoke to them.  How could this be?  After all the miraculous things that had happened over the past twelve years, how could they not understand?  Perhaps doubt had crept in?  Perhaps life had gotten in the way?

If Mary, the mother of Jesus, occasionally needed reassurance, it stands to reason that we sometimes need it too.  After all, we are just humans living in a sinful world.  Today, may I gently remind you that God understands?  He provides reminders and reassurances to us throughout his Word.  He doesn’t promise life will be easy, but we can have confidence he has it all under control.

It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed” (Deuteronomy 31:8).

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28).

 

Prepare the Way

Today’s reading: Luke 1

In Luke 1, the angel Gabriel visited the priest Zechariah and told Zechariah that his wife will bear a son. The angel foretells of Zechariah’s son:

And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.” (Luke 1:16-17)

Upon the birth of Zechariah’s son (John the Baptist), Zechariah reaffirms what he heard from the angel Gabriel in that John will prepare the way for the Lord:

And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High; for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways, (Luke 1:76)

One question I had after reading the chapter was: Why was it necessary for John the Baptist to “prepare the way” for Jesus? Jesus, being the Son of God has all power, so he could have just called people to himself in many ways. What was different about John the Baptist from other prophets?

My primary understanding is that John’s mission is the fulfillment of prophecy and it was foretold hundreds of years prior through the prophet Malachi, that a messenger will come to prepare the way:

“Behold, I send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; and the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts. (Malachi 3:1)

God had been using prophets for hundreds of years to send his messages of repentance, faith, and direction. They also told of a coming messiah. John’s special mission was to say he’s HERE. What an honor.

Translating this to my life I think about how we prepare for earthly events. If we know someone is coming to visit us from out of town, we typically clean our homes and put on a welcoming attitude. Sometimes we prepare for days; we prepare food, beverages, bedding, and plan events. We build our anticipation for what is to come and envision some of the conversation that we’ll have with our guests. We tell our neighbors and friends that this special someone is coming.

I believe this same preparation, as well as how John worked to prepare the people is how we should be preparing and anticipating the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. We need to be preparing ourselves in our relationship with Him today so that when we do meet face to face, it will be with joy and not with fear. We need to be sharing his love and salvation story with neighbors, friends, and family so that they too may celebrate his glorious return. The prophets from old said he’s coming, John the Baptist said he’s here, and we say he’s coming again – and he is. Prepare the way.

Don’t just take my word for it, Jesus said it best in telling us to prepare for him:

Only hold fast what you have until I come. The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron, as when earthen pots are broken in pieces, even as I myself have received authority from my Father. (Revelation 2:25-27)

Father God, thank you for your loving, perfect truth that we can find in the scriptures. Please show us how we should be preparing the way for your son Jesus. Show us how we we should prepare ourselves; give us courage and wisdom to spread your message of love, forgiveness, and salvation to others. Amen.

Introducing: The Gospel of Luke

Hi everyone! I hope your Thursday is going well. Today I am introducing the gospel of Luke. When I got the schedule and found out I would be introducing Luke, I laughed a little about that because that is who I was named after. For a little while, I even pursued a life in the medical field and everything to really follow in his footsteps… you know, since he was a physician and all.

 

Ha, I’m just joking with you. Of course, I wasn’t doing it because of being named after him, but that would have been a cool story, huh? Long story short, I am no longer in the medical field anymore. Today, I want to begin our journey into the book of Luke.

 

Luke is actually only named 3 times in the whole Bible, and he wasn’t with Jesus during his time here. Luke was a gentile, he was humble, and he was the only one to stay with Paul until his death. Most people know that Luke was a physician, and besides writing the book of Luke, he also wrote the book of Acts. The gospel of Luke was thought to have been written around the 60 A.D. time period. The book of Luke is unique in a couple of ways to the other gospels. Let’s check the differences out together.

 

  • The book of Luke is filled with lots of eyewitness accounts dating all the way back to John the Baptist and ending with Jesus’s death and resurrection. The book is also the only gospel that includes the parables of the Good Samaritan and the Prodigal Son.

 

  • The second thing I find really interesting is that the book of Luke is the gospel that includes the most stories of healing that Jesus did in His time here. This really shows that Luke was passionate about being a physician and had a lot of compassion towards those who were sick and needed healing.

 

As we continue through the chapters of Luke one by one, start to think about this book from the perspective of a physician. Remember that Luke was just a human, like you and me, so we can humanize him and can start to see the emotion and compassion in his writing. As we move forward, remember these characteristics of Luke. We are excited to share God’s word through the book of Luke!

And Peter

Our prayers are with the LaFrance’s.

Yesterday’s post highlighted the tearing of the curtain and the final price that was paid in full for our sin. It represents an opportunity for closeness to God.

In today’s reading (Mark 16) the angel has a message for Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James to carry. He tells them to go and tell it to Jesus’s disciples ‘and Peter.’

When I read this I thought to myself ‘what an interesting way to address a group.’ Knowing that the selection of words was precise I began to wonder why ‘and Peter’? My thoughts went to the message. It’s my understanding that ‘angel’ means messenger. So I can presume this angel had a message. Further, that every message has intended recipients. Also, that carrying a message includes seeing it is received. Could it have been, to ensure the task was completed and all the intended recipients received the message, that special note needed to be made for Peter to know the message was for him as well? that the angel knew Peter would not include himself in the category of the disciples without this special inclusion?

If so, considering how Peter must have felt, reminds me of so much scripture that had yet to be revealed calling us to hold fast, (Hebrews 3:6, Hebrews 3:14, Hebrews 10:23, 1Thessalonians 5:21, Revelation 2:25, Revelation 3:3) remain salty, (Matthew 5:13, Mark 9:50, Luke 14:34) and overcome in the face of trails. (Romans 12:21, James 1:21, 1John 5:4) Praise God for His Word! It encourages me that we need not be perfect to be useful to God more that we need not try to do it on our own. Such a burden would certainly leave one feeling like they had fallen from the graces of God at the slightest misstep. Knowing that perhaps, Peter struggled with a lie that his poor performances may disqualify him from God’s service is a good reminder that I need to cling to these scriptures.

Indeed we have been purchased in our imperfection. God, knowing the future value, decided on the price and it was highest. By His grace and mercy we are made useful to Him. I’m reminded of a study on the armor of God. Specifically, the shoes.

And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; – Ephesians 6:15

To make ready for battle in the good news that we have made peace with God. We have made peace with God and so we are on God’s side. God is with us! He will not leave us. We should not be without this peace when working for the LORD and fighting the good fight. (Ephesians 6:10) The truth stays us and gives us firm footing to complete the work God has given us to do. (Isaiah 41:13, Psalm 27:1, John 16:33, Romans 8:17-18, 1Corinthians 15:57, Philippians 4:13)

God has given us His armor. May we all use it well. Amen.

 

Photo: Raphael – Christ’s Charge to Peter

Curtain Call

Today’s Reading: Mark 15

I write this post from my moms bedside who has currently resides at the 4th floor of ICU these last few days.  We are waiting for another surgery with outcomes  that range from A-Z with various terminology that leaves me in a blur.  The only two results I can still hear are life or death.  The thoughts, words, and prayers shared are priceless as it has strengthened a faith in the trust of a Father who only knows the results. These results not known to me have already been decided by our God who has plans predestined according to His will and not our own.

Ephesians 1:11 In him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will,

In between the beeps, clicks, and sound of each ventilator breath the trust in God holding everything in his hands,  including my mothers life, always holds true. In this short, vapor of a life we have on this temporary earth I’m grateful for the promise God has given to us for an eternal life with Him. Psalm 39:4-5 reminds me of our investment we spend on our earthly days for an eternity with God.

Psalm 39:4-5 “Show me, Lord, my life’s end and the number of my days;
let me know how fleeting my life is. 5 You have made my days a mere handbreadth; he span of my years is as nothing before you. Everyone is but a breath, even those who seem secure.

As I read through Mark 15 the death of Jesus always puts lump in my throat as I am saddened by the mocking, brutalizing pain, and abandoned feeling Jesus would have felt. But as you read on to Mark 15:38-39 there is another assurance of the relationship God desires from us.

38 The curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. 39 And when the centurion, who stood there in front of Jesus, saw how he died,[c] he said, “Surely this man was the Son of God!”  

This curtain represented a barrier to the Holy of Holies that only allowed the highest priest to come in and enter into God’s presence and make atonement for their sins. ( Jeremiah Study Bible 2016) The symbolism of the curtain being ripped from top to bottom is that God opened the way for everyone to have a relationship with him.  Jesus’s death on the cross grants us all access to the the highest of all, Jesus, who sits on the right side of God.

Hebrews 4:14-16 Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

So on this wonderful Valentine’s Day, God wants us to approach him, with heart and arms wide open. This true love given by a Father who sent His Son to die on the cross for us.  He tore down this curtain to show us that we are all invited into His presence. Believe, keep the faith, that God loves, cares for, and will never leave our side.   Psalm 62

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Mended – Matthew West

Oh, That Sweet Smell


Today Reading: Mark 14

This is Lynden this week. I am blessed to have a great wife that was able to post for me last week while I was ill. I am truly blessed and fortunate. Today, I have the privilege to dive into Mark 14. Upon first reading this chapter, I felt overwhelmed and awed. In these verses Mark has given us the snapshot of the days before the crucifixion and Passover. I have prayed about what to reflect on this week and I chose: the preparation of the body for burial.

Mark14: 3- 7

 And while he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper,[a] as he was reclining at table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over his head.  There were some who said to themselves indignantly, “Why was the ointment wasted like that?  For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii[b] and given to the poor.” And they scolded her.  But Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me.  For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. But you will not always have me. She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial.  And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.”

As I have researched this passage this week many things are coming more in-focus for me.

  • The place that Jesus has come is the home of Simon the Leper. During the week before he is to be sacrificed and put to death he is eating at a home of a person who is on the fringes or margins of society, a person with Leprosy. This is a “unclean” person and outside of the proper lines of the Jewish society, as sen in last week’s post.  He is willing to be doing His Father’s work until the last moment.
  • Simon was also a friend of Jesus. He was a close friend, this Simon was also known as Lazarus of Bethany. The same Lazarus that was raised from the dead. In John 12:2-3, the same scene is witnessed where Jesus and the Twelve are at the house of Lazarus, Mary, and Martha. Some have thought his name is Simon Lazarus, similar to John Mark, whose gospel we are reading.   Mary is the woman whom poured the oil on Jesus. Is it interesting that the place that Jesus is prepared for his burial is at the home of the one he resurrected?
  • The main point that I was focused on ordeal with the perfume. Many people were arguing about the price of the perfume and what the proceeds could buy the poor and needy. But to look at this as from the point of view of Mary is one to sit in awe. This man, Jesus, has been with this family for a large portion of their life. This man love the family and the siblings.  This man has brought back their brother from a 4-day death.  This is the family in which “Jesus wept”. This is the family in which so much has happened to and happened with. This is the equivalent to their brother. Mary has been there with him and has witnessed many things and this is her manner to bless him before the end.   The amount of money that was used to purchase this oil would be about $30,000 to $50,000 in today’s economy, approximately one year’s wages.  This was a major sacrifice.

Ok so the stage is set and we know the outcome: death, burial, and resurrection. But take a moment and imagine: The supper at Bethany, the Last Supper, the Garden of Gethsemane, The trial, The flogging and beatings, The crucifixion, The burial, and The resurrection; in all of these stations this aroma is filling the air, the person, the being of Christ. It is truly anointing him.

I can only image the moment when Mary, his mother, held him in her arms that last time off of the cross and could smell this oil on him.

I think of my children and the smell of the newborn, something that is only there for a short time, but can bring back memories as if it was yesterday. Oh, that sweet smell.

Now, the question and prayer I have for you is: Would a year’s worth of your salary be enough to anoint Christ and who would see the effects? Would you make that sacrifice?

Dear Heavenly Father, allow us to be unselfish and generous with our possessions to glorify you now as Mary of Bethany did for you before you were glorified. Amen