Daily Devotion – March 30, 2022 – Dr. Pat Taylor Ellison

John 12:1-8
12:1 Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead.
12:2 There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him.
12:3 Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.
12:4 But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said,
12:5 “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?”
12:6 (He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.)
12:7 Jesus said, “Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial.
12:8 You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.”

This story from the gospel of John is a story of generosity and love. Mary, Martha, and Lazarus give a dinner for Jesus. They were grateful for Lazarus’s resurrection by Jesus, of course. But they were also dear friends of Jesus. Martha cooks and serves, as usual. But Mary’s action is even more generous than giving the dinner. She washes Jesus’s feet (just as Jesus will do for his disciples the night before he dies). But she washes them with perfume and uses her hair to do it. This is a generous thing to do, and a very intimate gesture that was probably uncomfortable to watch for the people attending the dinner.

It shows her deep devotion to Jesus, giving a part of herself without concern for what others would think. She is an utterly generous disciple. It makes the reader wonder how generous we are as disciples. What might we do out of generous devotion to our Savior, not caring what others might think of that devotion? To be honest, most of us don’t even mention our faith in public for fear of what other people might think or that they might disapprove.

Yes, Judas objects, and John names him a thief. But that is not nearly as interesting as the lavishness of Mary’s act and Jesus’s appreciation of it. Jesus knows that he will soon be dead and need anointing for burial, and he appreciates that Mary is ready for this and prepared to show her readiness so that he can see it. This story is about love and generous caring.

What acts of love does our faith move us to do? And do we have the deep love and faith of Mary to perform those acts of love and caring regardless of what others might say about us if we are caught doing them?

Gracious God, Thank you for loving us. Thank you for Mary and her example of deep devotion to Jesus. Please show us ways that we might do generous acts of love in your name, regardless of what others might think.    Amen.