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Related Bible reading(s): John 12.1-8

Present the reading & Talk together

Open the Bible at John 12.1-8

Judas is angry when Mary pours expensive perfume on Jesus’ feet to show how much she values him.

Choose from these two ways telling the story, followed by ideas for discussion time

Share the gift

Show the children a wrapped birthday gift, saying it contains sweets/chocolates. Explain that it belongs to you but you don’t want to wait until your birthday – you want to open it and share the contents with them now. Do so, and enjoy eating the sweets/chocolates together while you read the story. Mary has a precious gift that she wants to give Jesus, and he appreciates it greatly.

Scented story

Gather the children to sit in a circle. Display a clay pot with a copy of the story on a scroll rolled up inside it. Invite a confident reader to unroll the scroll and read it out. When they reach ‘the whole house was filled with the sweet smell of the perfume’, light a scented candle and place it in the centre of the circle.

Martina Farrow

The night before he arrived in Jerusalem, Jesus stopped at Bethany. Lazarus, whom he had recently raised from the dead, and his sisters Mary and Martha lived here. To welcome Jesus, they held a special dinner. Lazarus and other guests were sitting at the table, eating with Jesus. Martha was busy serving food and drinks to everyone. Suddenly, in came Mary with a jar of very expensive sweet-smelling oil. To everyone’s astonishment, she took the oil and poured it gently over Jesus’ feet. Then she let her hair down and wiped Jesus’ feet with it. The whole house was filled with the sweet smell of the perfume.

Judas, one of Jesus’ disciples who would later turn against him, was at the table and saw what happened. He said angrily to Mary, ‘Why did you do that with such expensive oil? Why did you not sell it and give the money to the poor instead? That oil was worth a year’s wages! It should have been sold.’ (Now it may seem that Judas cared about the poor, but it was the money he really cared about. He was a thief. He kept the group’s money purse and would often steal from it.)

Jesus did not agree with Judas. ‘Leave her alone,’ he replied. ‘Mary bought this oil for me, for the day of my burial. She was right to use it. The poor will always be here with you, but I will not.’

Talk together  ( Connect faith with everyday life)

  • How do you think Mary felt before, during, and after Judas’ argument?
  • If you had a valuable gift to give away, would you give all of it to one person, or small amounts to lots of people?
  • How are worshipping God and helping other people connected?


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