Leadership Scholars

Jesus Is Anointed by Mary: A Reflection on John 12:1-8

By Jiquan Davis

After Mary has done this for Jesus, Judas says, “Why not sell the perfume and give the money to the poor.” Others present with Jesus were saying the same thing. This bottle of perfume was expensive and could pay for a lot of things to help the poor people of the city and surrounding area. 

Jiquan Davis

I read this and sometimes I think the same way because, throughout Jesus’ ministry, he had focused on helping the poor, children and widows. But in this moment, Jesus says to leave her alone as she is preparing for his burial.

Jesus again tells the people, that he is going to die and that they will not have him forever in this world; but they do not listen because they are focused on the perfume and how that could be used in other ways then keeping it and using for the burial of Jesus. 

We, too, get focused on the wrong point of this story when we should keep our eye on Jesus and what he is teaching us on his way to Jerusalem and be ready to do ministry without him in the flesh. That is what Jesus is trying to say when he says, “You will always have the poor with you. You won’t always have me.” 

When Jesus says to let her be, he is telling the people around him to have faith like Mary. Mary shows what faith is about in this point of Jesus’ public ministry to the world. Jesus is in the home of friends, who have supported him in his ministry and who have faith in him but not true faith in God.

But Mary comes and shows what faith in Jesus is and the eternal life Jesus has told the world about. Mary even shows Jesus how to serve and be a humble person because, as recorded in the next chapter, Jesus is washing his disciples’ feet. Mary gets it. Mary has got the point of what Jesus wants his disciples and us to get. That is the will to serve and not to puts ourselves first. 

We are the body of Christ, and we should serve and minister to each other. In the Greek diakoneo means to serve or to minister. That is what Mary gets from Jesus in this story— to minister to the people around us and not to worry about the money that could be made in this world. 

Jesus knows what is going to happen to him soon after they get to the city of Jerusalem. But his disciples and the people who have followed him around Jerusalem and the surrendering areas do not fully understand what is happening. Jesus is trying to tell them and us to be ready for the day that he is not with us in person, but is with us in our hearts and minds. Just like Mary with the perfume ready for the death of our savior Jesus Christ,  we have to be ready for the things that Jesus has prepared us in our lives.

Jiquan Davis is a CBF Leadership Scholar pursuing a Master of Divinity in Pastoral Studies at
Gardner-Webb University School of Divinity. He is a campus ministry intern with CBF of North Carolina at Western Carolina University, University of North Carolina Asheville and Mars Hill University.

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