Two questions jump off the pages to me in this chapter. Do I love Jesus? Or do I love the praise of men? I don’t like these questions, at least not in the way they are connected together in scripture. I prefer to answer them separately. Do I love Jesus? Yes, of course. He is my savior. Do I love the praise of me? Well yes, maybe a little. However, it isn’t a problem for me. Why is it wrong to want the admiration and affection from my friends and colleagues? I think it might actually help my Christian witness. I want to have my cake and eat it too, but scripture and Jesus won’t allow it. These questions require an either or response.
Mary doesn’t have a problem answering these questions. She loves Jesus extravagantly, and doesn’t seem to care a bit about what people think of her. Mary takes a 12oz. jar of expensive perfume and pours it over Jesus’s feet. Judas criticizes her for wasting this money, and I wonder if others at that dinner felt the same way. Can you imagine taking something that cost a year’s wages and pouring it over feet? Mary could and did because her love for Jesus had no rival. It was total and complete.
In verse 42 and 43 we learn that many people believed in Jesus, including Jewish leaders. However, their answer to these questions were different than Mary’s. They had a rival to their belief in Jesus. Scripture says that they loved human praise more than God’s praise and wouldn’t admit their belief in Jesus. Ouch! These verses feel a little too personal for me.
Jesus says in verses 25 and 26: “Those who love their life in this world will lose it. Those who care nothing for their life in this world will keep it for eternity. Anyone who wants to serve me must follow me, because my servants must be where I am. And the Father will honor anyone who serves me.” The paradox of scripture is that when we learn to love Jesus completely, and not ourselves, we get real life for eternity in the bargain, and God will honor us. We can’t please two masters. Jesus will not have any rivals. Mary got it right when she lavished Jesus with expensive perfume.
I want to have a love for Jesus like Mary’s. No rivals, no worries about what other’s think – extravagant love and loyalty to Jesus. It’s going to require some “heart surgery”. I know I can’t do it alone, but I’m confident that he who began a good work in me will bring it to completion.