Today’s reading: John 12, Psalm 114
In 1992, Gary Chapman introduced us to The 5 Love Languages. His guidance to better understand the different ways people give and receive love, and then adapt our style accordingly, has helped countless couples foster lasting love relationships for more than 25 years. Chapman’s 5 Love Languages are as follows:
- Words of affirmation – showing someone you love them by building them up with encouraging words.
- Quality time – showing someone you love them by giving them your undivided attention.
- Gifts – showing someone you love them by giving them gifts.
- Acts of service – showing someone you love them by doing things for them.
- Physical touch – showing someone you love them by holding hands, hugging, kissing, etc.
The opening story of our text today teaches us a lot about loving Jesus. The setting was a dinner party in Bethany to honor Jesus, who had just raised Lazarus from the dead. The hosts were three of Jesus’ close friends, Mary, Martha and Lazarus. Each loved Jesus very much. The actions of these three friends show us all five love languages in action.
- Words of affirmation – When Mary first encountered Jesus, she affirmed her love and complete trust in his power with her words. When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died” (John 11:32).
- Quality time – Lazarus showed his love for Jesus by spending quality time with him. Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him (John 12:2).
- Gifts – Mary poured expensive perfume on Jesus feet. Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume (John 12:3).
- Acts of service – Martha showed her love for Jesus by serving the meal. Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him (John 12:2).
- Physical touch – Mary wiped the perfume on Jesus’ feet with her hair. Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume (John 12:3).
The story goes on to reveal Judas’ rebuke of Mary for the extravagance of her gift to Jesus.
But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages”. He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it (John 12:4-6).
Judas pretended to care about taking care of those in need as a cover for his own selfish motives. It is likely Jesus knew Judas was stealing money from the disciples’ fund, although the Bible never records Jesus addressing it directly. He simply told Judas to leave Mary alone. Do you think Judas forgot Jesus could see the true selfish motive of his heart?
What does Jesus see when he looks at the true motives of your heart? Does he see a deep, extravagant love for him that you demonstrate through various love languages? Or does he see a deep love for something else that you cover up by saying you love Jesus and “doing the right things”? If the latter, don’t be discouraged, there is still hope. May I encourage you with Paul’s words to the Church in Ephesus?
Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that (Ephesians 5:2 MSG).