First Steps: Bible

John Bible Study: Day 12

Read John 12:1-50. 

As you have been studying John, you may have noticed that the book is starting to shift. You see, Jesus has been making it clear that His death is near. Because of this, the entire mood of the book has shifted with the looming reminder that Jesus is about to die. It is important to keep this in mind as we read John chapter twelve.

At the beginning of this chapter, Jesus was eating dinner at the house of His friends, Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, whom He had raised from the dead one chapter earlier. Suddenly, Mary took a twelve-ounce jar of perfume and poured it all over Jesus’ feet. Now, if that happened to one of us today, we would be very confused. This is something that is not done today. In Jesus’ day, however, foot cleaning and washing were done very often. People walked most places (there were no cars) while wearing sandals. Because of this, a hired servant usually cleaned people’s feet whenever they entered a home. In this case, however, Mary was the one to clean Jesus’ feet, and she did not use water. She used expensive perfume. This perfume was worth almost a year’s salary. It must have been something that she was saving for something special. Yet when Jesus came, she poured all of the perfume at Jesus’ feet until the entire house smelled of the scent of perfume. It should also be noted that this type of perfume was often used to pour over people who had died to keep the bodies from smelling bad for as long as possible. It was also something used to anoint royalty and signify someone’s importance and power. Perfume had significance. 

As everyone observed what was happening, Judas questioned Mary’s actions. He said to Jesus, “[that perfume] should have been sold and the money given to the poor” (verse five). He said this because he was hoping to take some of that money for himself, not because he cared about the poor. Jesus made a very interesting comment in reply. “Leave her alone,” Jesus said. “She did this in preparation for My burial” (verse seven). You see, Jesus knew He was about to die, and Mary, without realizing it, had just anointed Jesus for His burial. While some probably saw her action of anointing Jesus with the perfume as wasteful, Mary was doing exactly what needed to be done. She was giving Jesus her very best, and it did not go unnoticed.

Mary understood that following Jesus means giving Him her very best, even when it looks strange to the rest of the world. She gave her very best, and her best did not go to waste. As a follower of Jesus, you, too, are called to give Him your very best, without holding back. This means that you leverage everything He has given you, your time, talents, and resources, to bring Him glory, or honor and recognition. We give our best to Him because He is God and He deserves our very best.  What more? He loves us, and He gave His best for us when He came to earth and died on the cross. You can be sure of this: When you give Him the best of your life, it will not return void. God will be honored and use your time, talents, and resources to demonstrate His greatness and His power.

Moving Toward Action

Are you giving God your very best as one of His followers? With what has He blessed you? Are you in good health? How can you steward your health to serve Him? Has He blessed you financially? How can you use your finances to glorify Him? What gifts and talents has He given you? How can you serve Him with the abilities He has gifted you? Based on what God has blessed you with, make a list of ways you can give God the very best of your life and find someone to help hold you accountable to doing those things. As you think about your gifts and talents, sign up to serve at Sagebrush in an area where you will be able to serve using those gifts and talents.