Chapter 12:1-11 (ESV) - Six days before the Passover, Jesus therefore came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. So they gave a dinner for him there. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at table. 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. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” 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. Jesus said, “Leave her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of my burial. For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.”
When the large crowd of the Jews learned that Jesus was there, they came, not only on account of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. So the chief priests made plans to put Lazarus to death as well, because on account of him many of the Jews were going away and believing in Jesus.
Question to consider: Read Luke 7:36-50. Compare and contrast the two dinners.
Throughout my studies over the last four years, I’ve contended that Lazarus was once a Pharisee who went by the name of Simon. He was first mentioned in Luke 7:36-50 after Jesus had raised a widow’s son in Nain, a city south of the Sea of Galilee, and news of Him spread throughout all of Judea and the surrounding countries. Simon asked Jesus at that time to come dine with Him, presumably to test for himself whether Jesus was the one whom John the Baptist professed could baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire.
The scene looked very familiar to the one described by John in today’s passage, but instead of Judas, it was Simon who looked with disgust at the actions of a sinful woman who showed up and anointed Jesus’ feet and wiped them with her hair. We learned immediately after this passage of a woman, Mary, called Magdalene, who had been freed from seven demons. I believe Simon knew that the woman who anointed Jesus was a sinner because she was his sister, and Jesus used an illustration to convict his heart about the mercy of God.
Fast forward three years to this dinner which honored Jesus instead of testing Him, for Simon (called Lazarus) now reclined with Jesus as a friend who had been raised from the dead. Instead of anointing Jesus for ministry in gratitude for being freed from demons, Mary now anointed Him for His coming crucifixion and burial and in gratitude for raising her brother.
Judas should have rejoiced at this scene, but it honestly disgusted him and would seem to be the last straw, for at this time Luke wrote, “Then Satan entered into Judas called Iscariot, who was of the number of the twelve. He went away and conferred with the chief priests and officers how he might betray him to them. And they were glad, and agreed to give him money. So he consented and sought an opportunity to betray him to them in the absence of a crowd.” (Luke 22:3-6) John added in today’s passage that he wasn’t really interested in the money being given to the poor but used to steal from the money bag.
I would argue that all along, Judas was an opportunist who thought he would gain power and wealth when Jesus took the throne, but he saw the growing hatred of Jesus by those in power, and Jesus couldn’t stop talking about His coming death. Once He said He was being anointed for His upcoming burial, Judas decided to cut his losses and get paid to betray Him.
Not only did they want to kill Jesus, but they also plotted to murder the resurrected Lazarus. I mentioned Abraham’s quote yesterday, “If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.” (Luke 16:31) This is a monument to the hardness of the human heart.
Dear heavenly father, please soften our hearts to see our need for Christ. Strip away our pride and ambition and open our eyes to the work You are doing all around us to show us our sin and point us to the one who has paid for it and gives us His righteousness. Amen.