John 12:1-8 New International Version (NIV)
Jesus Anointed at Bethany
12 Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2 Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honour. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. 3 Then Mary took about a pint[a] 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.
4 But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, 5 “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.[b]” 6 He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.
7 “Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. “It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. 8 You will always have the poor among you,[c] but you will not always have me.”
In our story passage today Mary might have used an expensive perfume to show how much value Jesus had in her life. But it wasn’t the value of the perfume that was important but the reason she was doing it.
Jesus had let her sit at his feet whilst he talked. He made her feel valuable, of worth – loved.
She had listened with her heart, and she knew that Jesus was going to die. So for me it feels like Mary took this opportunity to sit at his feet one last time. This was an act of love and worship.
She could have used the perfume and poured it over his head, to symbolise a recognition that he was ‘the Messiah’, but she chose his feet the place where you would start if you were carry out a burial rite. In the days of Jesus before you were buried you were anointed with perfumed oil it would have been done by the women. They always started at the feet. So this act was symbolic..
Jesus knew this.
Judas a disciple, who listened to Jesus preach, who saw his healings, his compassion, his love for others. After all the time he spent with Jesus he still didn’t get it. All he saw was a ‘woman’ who was wasting money.
He didn’t see the value of the act.
He placed more value on the perfume than on the love and worship that she felt for Jesus.
Judas didn’t really want the money for the poor he wanted it for himself.
This happened though out history people have their value
Throughout history people have been bought and sold… they had a monetary value.
Slaves were bought and sold.
Women had a value – how much they were worth to a husband.
Look at King Henry the 8th, his wife’s were of no worth if they couldn’t produce a son.
Poor people were seen as less worth than those who were rich and had status.
Today we still live in a society where people can be seen as having no value….
You are poor you have no value.
You are a child you have no value.
You are old you have no value.
You are sick you have no value.
You are not thin you have no value.
You are a refugee you have no value.
You are homeless you have no value..
When I worked as a priest I regularly baptised babies, I used oil blessed on Maundy Thursday at the Cathedral. The same oil used at a confirmation, an ordination or a coronation – I used this as a symbol that we are all equal in God’s eyes. Whether a baby or royalty.
To God we are all of value, we all have worth.
God loves us all equally, whether poor or rich, young or old, sick or fighting fit, whatever you look like, wherever you lay your head. God cares for us, and has great love for us.
We also need to value each other as God values us. Every person both children and adults need to feel valued and of worth.
A simple song to remind them how special they are.
‘I’m special because God has loved me’ by Graham Kendrick.
A suggestion for a game would be pass the parcel with enough layers one for each child each layer has a label or a sticker with the words ‘I am special’ on it. When the parcel reaches them they unwrap a layer and they have to say ‘I am special because God loves me.’
In the middle is something that everyone can share.
Making bead bracelets or keyrings – that say I am special.
You can buy the lettered beads online quite inexpensively.
Just a reminder of how much they are loved and valued by God.