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Related Bible reading(s): Philippians 3.4b-14; John 12.1-8

Bible notes

Philippians 3.4b-14; John 12.1-8

  • On a day marked by some as Passion Sunday, Mary’s passionate act of anointing Jesus’ feet during a quiet meal with friends encourages us to consider the sacrifice of Jesus in this reflective Lenten period.
  • The extravagance of the moment is felt throughout the whole passage. The perfumed oil that Mary used would have cost around a year’s wages and the intensity of the fragrance filled the house (v.3). Her prophetic act is amplified in Paul’s words, ‘I regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord’ (Philippians 3.8).

  • Judas’ role is interesting. Was he predestined to play the role of antagonist, or did he have a choice? What were his motives for betraying Jesus, and when did Jesus first know about this? We can’t answer these questions definitively, but Judas reminds us of our own sin and Jesus’ acceptance of us, despite it.

  • Similarly, the meaning of John 12.8 is unclear. Based on what we already know about Jesus, we can be sure he is not asking us to ignore the poor, but is bringing to the fore the need to balance social justice in a broken world, with adoration of a holy God. Jesus does not seek this adoration himself, but sets himself apart at this juncture to be the recipient of the worship due to God. How do we glorify God and grow in our devotion? And how do we balance that with the needs of others?
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