Then Judas the Iscariot, one of his disciples, and the one who would betray him, said, “Why was this oil not sold for three hundred days’ wages and given to the poor?” John 12:4–5
Jesus was with His disciples at the home of Lazarus, Martha and Mary. He regularly spent time at their home and was close to them. This meal took place just before Jesus entered into Jerusalem for the first Palm Sunday and Holy Week. It was six days before Jesus would die on the cross.
Recall that Lazarus had recently been raised from the dead by Jesus and also that Mary, Lazarus’ sister, was deeply devoted to Jesus and is recorded as the one who sat at His feet, while her sister Martha served. During this visit, Mary offered another act of devotion to Jesus when she anointed Him with “a liter of costly perfumed oil.” She offered Him an act of love and devotion. The Scripture passage above records Judas’ response as he also was at the meal. Jesus rebukes Judas and defends the act of devotion given by Mary, and the meal continues on.
One clear lesson this teaches us is that nothing is too good for our Lord. It’s true that we must do our part to help care for the poor, but Jesus’ response to Judas is quite interesting. He says, “Leave her alone. Let her keep this for the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.” Jesus was not downplaying the importance of caring for the poor; He was emphasizing the importance of offering acts of love and devotion to Him.
As we enter into this the holiest week of the year, we are given this image of Mary lavishing upon Jesus this liter of costly perfumed oil as a way of inviting us to do the same. Though we serve Christ in others who are in need, we must also seek to regularly offer Him devotion and love directly, even in ways that others may think is excessive. Honoring Him, expressing our love, spending time with various devotions, praying for extended periods of time, and even offering Him our financial resources are all ways in which we give Jesus the glory that is due Him.
Reflect, today, upon ways in which you can imitate this act of loving devotion offered by Mary to Jesus. In what ways can you pour forth in an abundant way your time, money, talents, and energy upon our Lord? How can you best express your devotion to Him this Holy Week? Seek out ways to do this directly for the one and simple reason that you love our Lord and want to express that love this week.
My glorious Jesus, You are worthy of all praise and honor. You are worthy of our deepest devotion and love. As I enter into this Holy Week, I pray that it will be a time in which I may express my deepest love for You. Help me to pour forth that love in abundance this week so as to show You the glory and praise You deserve. Jesus, I trust in You.