Important Contrast

Read This Week: John 12

But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” 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. “Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. “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 12:4-8 NIV

The setting of John 12 is Bethany, where Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead in the last chapter. Most biblical scholars agree that the name Bethany means house of affliction or house of misery, meaning it was a place to care for the poor, sick, and contagious diseases. In other words, this environment and town experienced great suffering but had tremendous potential for miracles, restoration, and healing.

One example would be Mary anointing Jesus’ feet with perfume in the first part of the chapter. Verse 3 tells us that 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. Worth a full year’s salary, this pure nard was undoubtedly the most expensive thing Mary owned. But she did not hesitate to give it up to honor Jesus. She willfully poured out something valuable in worship that expressed wholehearted love and devotion to the Lord. It was beautiful, sacrificial, and profound in its impact.

But not everyone was inspired and moved by this selfless worship of Christ. Verses 4-5 tell us that Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages. Mary’s benevolence and self-sacrifice are met with Judas’s dark and sullen self-importance. He attempts to nullify her genuine goodness with legalism and inauthentic worship. His cold indifference countered her act of love. This moment sharply contrasts two people and hearts; one where love delights in giving all and the best, and another where self-centeredness and greed are eager to get all they can.

As Jesus does, He speaks the truth and highlights what is most important. He says to Judas, leave her alone, you will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me. He always returns to worship, devotion, and pursuit of God being first and essential to our lives. It must come before any act of service, benevolence, generosity, or human effort. Spending time at the feet of Jesus enables and empowers us to serve the poor, be there for a friend, meet a need, and be a witness to those far from God. 

Adoration and worship of Christ are the foundation of a life of service and charity. The work is always there, and opportunities to serve others are prevalent, but we are to seek God, read His word, and worship Him above any activity we deem more significant. In opposition to Judas’ mindset and approach, this focused devotion that Mary demonstrated sets the right spiritual tone for anything else we attempt to do in God’s name. It is an important contrast for us all to see and take to heart.

5 Comments

  1. Javaid Ahmed on November 16, 2022 at 12:25 pm

    God focused my attention on John 12 verses 42-43

    42 Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not openly acknowledge their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; 43 for they loved human praise more than praise from God.

    What God said to me about this is:

    “When you choose a life with me it is common to want to keep one foot in and one foot out, however, in order to fully embrace my love in your life and walk with Me is to stand firmly with both feet; unwavering. Being split between this world and the heavenly realm will never give you peace and will always hold uncertainty.

    What this means to me is that it is human nature to want to have it both ways. It is easy for us to be noncommittal and have a “safety net” of sorts to fall back on in this world. When we are with God we need to be steadfast and know that the ways of the world are shortsighted but the way with God is the eternal way.

    • Heidi on November 20, 2022 at 7:53 am

      Thank you for sharing Javaid. I love this
      When we are with God we need to be steadfast and know that the ways of the world are shortsighted but the way with God is the eternal way.

      Thank you because the way with God is eternal

  2. reachchurch on November 20, 2022 at 12:25 pm

    This Week in the Life: John 12

    For the best experience, we suggest you listen to the first song, then the message, and then the second song.

    1. Sunday Worship: https://reachchurch.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/2022-1120-Worship1.wav
    2. Sunday Message: https://reachchurch.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/2022-1120-Message.wav
    3. Sunday Worship: https://reachchurch.org/wp-content/uploads/2022/11/2022-1120-Worship2.wav

    Join the Party Line Live – Schedule: https://reachchurch.org/connect

  3. Alma on November 20, 2022 at 1:07 pm

    This week I got a song in John 12.
    I am the light
    I am the light of the world, the light of the world just believe and me my children I’ll show you the way when you believe in me, your darkness will go away. I am the light that light of the world I will guide you lead you help you read the message becoming closer to me You are my children, my beautiful children I’m with you always I am the light I am the light of the world amen.
    God was saying to me you don’t have to live in darkness. I am the light light of the world. Just trust in me rely on me come to me I will show you guide you.

  4. Heidi on November 21, 2022 at 8:43 am

    John 12:48 Whoever rejects Me and refuses to accept My teachings, has one who judges him; the very word that I spoke will judge and condemn him on the last day.

    Have you ever felt rejections from people when you were only trying to help them, or you knew God had a divine appointment to share Jesus with them and they said no to Him.
    I have been in that place so I have felt the rejection, it breaks your heart for them.
    God’s love, His teachings and lessons are for anyone who wants to believe. Jesus says it right here in

    John 12:44 But Jesus loudly declared, “The one who believes and trusts in Me does not believe [only] in Me but [also believes] in Him who sent Me. 45 And whoever sees Me sees the One who sent Me. 46 I have come as Light into the world, so that everyone who believes and trusts in Me [as Savior—all those who anchor their hope in Me and rely on the truth of My message] will not continue to live in darkness.

    God is saying to never give give up sharing the Good News, Jesus because when they are in a dark place they will need hope, I Am their hope in this dark world.

    What this means to me is to continue to share the Good News to everyone He leads me too. Don’t take the rejection personally because that’s between them and God. Keep sharing and praying that they will respond to His call so one day they will get to go to heaven.

    Thank you Father God that you know, all I have to do is keep listening and sharing what You put on my heart.
    I hope everyone does respond to Your love so they can be set free from the darkness.

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