Week beginning Sunday 10th October
This week gets us over halfway through reading John’s Gospel.
Yet, it also brings us to the last week of Jesus’ life on earth!
There is no doubt that all four Gospel writers major on the events surrounding Jesus’ death and resurrection. As we approach Christmas we inevitably focus on the birth narratives. The Bible stories, and the preaching of the Apostles however, have the Cross and the Empty Tomb as the dominant themes. Love is evident in each scenario, but the events of the last week of Jesus’ life on earth express with increasing authority the price that love paid to save a fallen world.
v 8. You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.
On the face of it perhaps, Judas had a point. In one fell swoop Mary had given away a whole year’s wages! It was a huge amount of perfume that Mary had apparently ‘wasted’. We might today have called it her ‘Pension Pot’ – and she gave it all away to anoint Jesus’ feet. With ‘enlightened hindsight’ John adds the comment about Judas being a thief, but that was not the issue at that instant. Jesus looks beyond the extravagance of the action to see the extraordinary depth of Mary’s devotion. It would have been the duty of a deceased person’s ‘nearest and dearest’ to provide the burial spices and perfumes required when a person died. So Jesus saw her action as preparation for his own death and burial, now only a matter of days away.
Matthew’s memory of the occasion leads him to add. ‘ I tell you the truth, wherever the Good News is preached throughout the world, this woman’s deed will be remembered and discussed.” (Matthew 26:13)
Our own reflections on it try to balance the obligation we all feel to share our resources with impoverished people, and the desire to honour God in giving our money for the specific cause of telling people about Jesus. Many of us are frequently inundated with appeals to give money for ‘Good Causes.’ (And we know that such causes are often exceedingly good causes, making us blink a little as we consign the appeals to the waste bin.)
How do you decide where to direct your financial gifts in a world where the gap between rich and poor is for ever increasing? That might be something worth talking honestly about in a Growth Group. Love is the motive for giving or sharing our resources, but what logic or concern leads us to support one cause rather than another?