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Come back to a house in Bethany this Easter!

Read: Matthew 26:6–13 and John 12:1–8

Look at the focal verse: “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 NIV).

Reflect: When we throw parties for those we love, we put thought into whom we’ll invite and what we’ll serve. We know how we want our guests to feel, and we often make extravagant plans so that the honoree receives the recognition he or she deserves.

Many women use Pinterest boards that provide places to collect party ideas. They pin pictures to help them plan long before the event. Many plan to post the pictures on social media to be remembered long after the party is over.

In Jesus’ day, a form of social networking was also used surprisingly well. The Bible tells us that many were looking for Jesus and wondering whether or not He’d be at the Jewish Passover in Jerusalem. They had heard through the ancient grapevine that Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead, and that made them want to see both Jesus and Lazarus.

Though the passage in Matthew talks about Mary anointing the head and the verses in John say that she anointed the feet, imagine how surprised the guests must have been when at the end of the dinner Mary begins using her fragrant oil on Jesus.

Judas questioned Mary’s motivation for the lavish gift, but Jesus responded, “It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me” (John 12:7b–8 NIV).

Respond: As we prepare for Easter this year, we invite you to come back to the house in Bethany today. Imagine the celebration scene before you! 

Mary and Martha have the fresh memory of mourning the death of their brother. They also remember the shock and joy they felt when Jesus arrived four days later and called Lazarus back to life from the grave. If you were Mary or Martha, what would you want to do for Jesus?

How would you celebrate if you were another guest? On the one hand, Jesus is a hero at this party. He has given life back to Lazarus. On the other hand, though, He’s shocking. He has raised Lazarus from the dead and Lazarus is laughing and enjoying the party at the head table with Jesus. 

Will you respond like Judas, a little fed up with all of the attention Jesus is getting and wonder why this money wasn’t spent on something else? Would you want Jesus to quit working so slowly and go ahead and take over the kingdom and let you bask in the glory as one of His followers? 

As you visit this house in Bethany, forget for a moment what others might think of you. Instead, think of the miracle of Jesus bringing Lazarus back to life. Think of the miracle of Easter and Jesus as the risen Savior. Think about your own life. Have you been given eternal life? What are you doing to celebrate the life He has given you?