The meaning of cleanliness
Six days before the Passover, Jesus therefore came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2 So they gave a dinner for him there. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at table. 3 Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. 4 But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, 5 “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” 6 He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it. 7 Jesus said, “Leave her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of my burial. 8 For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.” John 12:1-11
Jesus’s feet were dirty, your Savior’s feet were dirty — what is appropriate to clean His feet? Nothing this side of heaven is worthy, right? Mary used her hair and a valuable oil to clean His feet. She did this as a beautiful act of sacrifice, service, and love. Yet, Judas was shocked that something expensive was being used to clean dirty feet.
When we think about how much Jesus has done for us, we should naturally feel inclined to give our most precious worldly possessions back to Him. We should pour out our time, talent, and financial resources to honor Him and grow His kingdom. How do we respond when we have opportunities to honor Jesus? Do we freely sacrifice our best, most precious possessions to Him as Mary did? Or do we respond with reservation and selfish concern as Judas did? We are quick to judge Judas in this passage, but then we realize that there’s a bit of Judas in each one of us — holding back, judging, begrudgingly giving, serving selfishly, and questioning God.
We would act very differently if we understood the sacrifice that Jesus made for us. The oil Mary used was worth a year’s wages. If someone is giving you freedom and eternal life — wouldn’t that be worth everything? Wouldn’t that be worth more than just a year’s wages? When we consider the price Jesus paid for us, we should respond as Mary did in this passage. We should find joy honoring our Savior, by washing His feet, and giving Him the best of what we have to offer.
Heavenly Father, thank you for sending Jesus to save us. Thank you for giving us freedom from the entanglement of sin and for giving us eternal life. Please help us to always remember what Jesus did for us on the cross and to never take His sacrifice for granted. Please let us live a life like Mary’s – a life of service and love. Let us boldly live for Jesus and give the best we have to honor Him and advance His kingdom. Amen. Jack Green
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