Such love - Reflections - 3-10-16

Texts for Sunday 3-13-16

Isaiah 43:16-21
Psalm 126
Enjoying friends
Philippians 3:4b-14
John 12:1-8

Sometimes there are people who make you feel at home when you are with them. You don’t have to act any special way because they know you and love you for who you are. It is wonderful to spend time with them.

Martha, Mary, and Lazarus were those kind of people for Jesus. These two sisters and their brother lived in Bethany. Jesus stayed at their home as often as he could. He was welcomed and fed, listened to their bickering, and had far-reaching conversations with them. He loved them dearly; they loved him dearly. 

Today’s Gospel text from John tells about Jesus’ final visit with the family. As it happens, at the visit before this one he had returned because Lazarus had died.  At that visit he wept over his friend’s grave along with Mary; then called Lazarus out of the grave.

As it happens, this final visit is about a week before Jesus’ death. Raising Lazarus put a bulls-eye on Jesus’ back.
He is settling in for a meal served by Martha with Lazarus also at the table ready to eat when Mary kneels before Jesus. 

In another earlier visit, Mary sat at Jesus’ feet and listened to his teaching so it was probably not surprising to see her do so again. But this time she poured costly perfume (nard) on his feet and wipes those feet with her hair. Extravagant sign of love. 

It shows that she believed Jesus when he said he must die. The perfume she used was used for anointing the dead. And when people anointed corpses with oils and spices, they started with the feet and hands. Mary seems to be the only disciple who “got it”; Jesus will show his extravagant love through his death. And so, the nard. 

In a few days, Jesus will be at another meal, this one is for Passover with his disciples. He will kneel before his disciples, wash their feet, and wipe them with his towel. Jesus demonstrates how to be his disciple - go out to love and serve the world. 

Cool note: That word “wipe” in both stories is the same word. The two stories are intentionally linked. Mary knew what it was to be a disciple of Jesus before Jesus taught the disciples what it was: extravagant love; servant love. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples; if you have love for one another (13:35).

Another link: Judas appears in both stories as well. He is an opposite example of discipleship. He does not live by extravagant love. In fact, in this story, he criticizes it. The author of John doesn’t hide his scorn for Judas; he adds parentheses to clarify just how much Judas is NOT the example of a disciple. 

How about you? 
How do you show your discipleship? 
How do you show extravagant love?

Check out the G.I.F.T. post for this Sunday, March 13 for more ways to reflect on these texts. 

I'd love to hear your thoughts. Please use the comment section below (all the way down past the related posts).

How to Find Us

Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Iowa City

Gathered by grace. Scattered for service.

123 E Market Street
Iowa City, IA 52245