1 Samuel 29:1-31:13; John 11:54-12:19; Psalm 118:1-18; Proverbs 15:24-26
The Wellspring of Passion
If you missed yesterday’s Gospel reading, you might not realize that “Jesus therefore no longer walked openly among the Jews” because He had resurrected His friend Lazarus, whose sisters were Mary and Martha. Because of this miracle, many believed while others now sought Jesus’ life as well as the life of Lazarus. Following this story are two major events: the dinner where Jesus is anointed and the Triumphal Entry. I find two remarkable things in this passage, both reported as responses to the glory of Christ witnessed in this event.
First, one must wonder in the face of the resurrection of a dead man, what is it in some that would choose to suppress such a glorious witness to the death of death? Why weren’t their hearts and minds rejoicing and converted to see Jesus’ glory in this event rather than planning murder? But John reports earlier (Ch. 2) that Jesus wouldn’t entrust Himself to people because He “knew what was in man.” It is our fallen instinct to seek our own agenda over God’s, both then and now.
The Saturday before Jesus would be crucified, Lazarus and his sisters gave a dinner for Jesus at their home in Bethany, near Jerusalem. It is the beginning of Passion Week. The term Passion is given primarily to signify Jesus’ suffering, but also the love He showed for His Father and us, which bore Him there. But there is another remarkable passion expressed here, and that is the passion of Mary, sister of Martha and Lazarus. When Mary anoints Jesus’ feet with perfume costing a year’s salary and wipes them with her hair, Judas accuses her of waste. But Jesus blesses the “wasting” of her passion on Him.
Mary’s devotion begs the question, what do we hold back from our Lord, rather than “waste” ourselves, our passion on Him? The truth is that it is not possible to give too much of ourselves to Christ. In fact, here He shows us that He not only blesses us for this kind of “wasted passion,” but He rejoices in us because of it. So the call today is against the kind of unbelief and halfheartedness that suppresses Jesus’ glory, and towards the kind of belief that finds in Christ the wellspring of passion.