The event recorded in John 12 is also recorded in Matthew 16:6-13 and Mark 14:3-9. Even though there may be some debate to the contrary, I also believe that Luke 10:38-42 is the same event. As we study this passage, there are five people or groups of people represented. We see Lazarus and Mary who represent those who are sitting at the feet of Jesus. Then there are the disciples who represent those who are seeking fame and position. Judas is also there, and he represents those who are full of deceit and impure motives. We also see Martha who represents those who are too busy serving to sit at the feet of Jesus. Finally, we see the multitudes who represent those who are sensation seekers. As we examine each of these, may we ask ourselves the question as to which category we find ourselves in.
Lazarus and Mary (v. 1-3). In this account we see both Lazarus and Mary sitting close to Jesus. Mary even takes some very expensive ointment and washes the feet of Jesus and dries His feet with her hair. This was a very humble position for Mary, the sister of Martha. She took the position of a servant. The Pillar New Testament Commentary says, “John focuses on Jesus’ feet: in terms of the symbolism established, at the very least this signifies the utmost in self-humbling devotion and love, regardless of cost (the expense of the nard) or of what others might think (Mary let down the tresses of her hair to wipe Jesus’ feet). Mention of the fact that the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume suggests not only extravagant love, but suggests that the fragrance of the act will extend far beyond the event itself (cf. Mk. 14:9).” Being with Jesus is far more important than anything else we could do. When we are with Jesus, there will be a sweet fragrance about us. You can tell when someone has been with Jesus. What about you? Do you sit at the feet of Jesus? Do you spend time with Him daily? Are you close to Him? Jim Pemberton wrote this poem:
Spending time with Jesus is time well spent. It’s a time when I can humbly repent. Spending time with Jesus, I will confess. Helps me to deal with the daily stress! Spending time with Jesus is what’s needed! It’s only in him, that my life is completed! Spending time with Jesus… I need to do it! I tried many times. But I “blew it!” I’m starting today! It’s important to do! I’m starting the day off, like it’s “brand new!” Spending time with him, will help me to trust him! I’m going to tell him how much I love him! Time with my Lord… I’m determined to spend! He is my savior! And very best friend! Won’t you join me in this endeavor? His peace and joy can bless you forever! Time with God is worth more than silver or gold! He’s an awesome God and worthy to behold! He can do more for you in just a moment of time! He’s so patient, merciful and kind! Spending time with Jesus… You’ll be glad you did! An everlasting joy and love is what he’ll give!
The Disciples. The Disciples did love the Lord. They enjoyed spending time with Him. However, their purpose was not spending time with Him for the sake of spending time with Him. They spent time with Jesus in order to get something from Him. All throughout Jesus’ ministry we find the disciples vying for position. They were all about establishing the kingdom that they missed the whole point of why Jesus came. Does this describe you? Do you consider your relationship with Jesus as a way to get to the top? Is your relationship with the Lord centered around personal gain or around Christ Himself?
Judas. As Mary used the expensive ointment to wash the feet of Jesus, Judas sees dollar signs. He asks Jesus why would the ointment be wasted when it could be used to buy food for the poor. I do not think Judas was really concerned for the poor. Judas was the disciple that kept up with the money. There is a very real possibility that Judas was taking some of the money for his own personal gain. Judas had impure motives. He was a deceiver. There are those today that are the same way. They put on a good front. They act as if they care. However, their motives are not pure. Have you ever done anything with an impure motive? Are you like Judas, caring only for yourself and your own personal comfort?
Martha. As Mary and Lazarus sit at the feet of Jesus, Martha is busy serving. We often shake our heads at Martha because she reminds us of ourselves. Too often we get caught up in the doing rather than in the being. Doing things for Jesus is important and good, but being with Jesus is far more important. Think about this: we cannot be involved in the doing without being. If you want to see fruit from your labor. If you want to see results from all your doing, then you must spend time being with Jesus. The more you do, the more you must be with Jesus. Martha was so busy doing that she missed that precious moment of sitting at the feet of Jesus. Do not allow your busyness to distract you from being with Jesus.
The Multitudes. Verse 9 gives us some very interesting insight into what is going on here. There were much people that came. They did not come to see Jesus, but they came to see Lazarus. They were enamored by the miracle that occurred. They were what we may call sensationalist. They were caught up in the latest miracle. How often are we the same way? We follow the crowd and we jump on the bandwagon of the latest big thing. They did not come to see Jesus, they were just along for the ride.
As we have examined these five people or groups of people, which category are you in? Are you a part of the multitude who is just along for the ride? Are you a Martha who is scurrying around doing, doing, doing, and yet missing the joy of spending time with Jesus? Are you a Judas who is living as a hypocrite and has impure motives? Are you like the disciples who are vying for position? Or, are you a Mary and Lazarus who is sitting at the feet of Jesus?