Skip to main content

Taking Back Sunday

            The Sunday before the first Easter Sunday could have been the night that Simon held a dinner in Jesus’ honor in Bethany. John 12:1 says: Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead.  The day of the week for this gets a little confusing since six days before Passover is either Friday or Saturday evening, two unlikely dates for a supper.  What we do know is that Lazarus was there reclining at the table (after he had been resurrected from the dead!), and Martha was serving.  This was the dinner where Mary, their sister, poured the expensive perfume on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair.  We don’t know it was Sunday for sure, but we do know that the Sunday before Easter Sunday everyone but Jesus had high hopes of the future and pretty much thought they knew what God was going to do in their new leader.

            It was the calm before the storm.  It was a day that made sense.  They got up and went about the business they had been doing for the past three years.  Miracles were ordinary for them.  It seemed normal to be eating with a man who was once dead for four days.  They never knew when or where to expect a miracle, yet they felt certain miracles would continue wherever Jesus was. 

            That Sunday was just an ordinary day in the life of Jesus and His disciples—the Triumphant entry aside.  It was, after all, what they expected to happen.  Jesus was the Messiah and they thought He would soon reign like David over an earthly throne from Jerusalem.  Sunday was the day after the Sabbath, the day to get back to work and on with the challenges of the week ahead.  The theological debates were laid aside for the practical realities of how to get enough food to eat for the next week.  Dinners needed to be cooked and eaten, laundry needed to be folded, business needed to be conducted and polite interchanges were to be made.  No one would have thought that one week from this day the whole world would be turned upside down.  No one could understand that something more powerful that 1000 atom bombs was about to explode the spiritual realities with which we all live with.

            Who knows what was going through Mary’s mind?  I think of her as one of those very sensitive women who are quick to obey the promptings of the Spirit of God without having to understand the why in order to obey.  She heard about the dinner and knew she could attend and wouldn’t miss another chance to be with Jesus.  As she left for the dinner, she followed her heart to pick up that perfume of pure nard worth a year’s wages.  Did she have in mind what she would end up doing at the dinner when she left?  I’m not sure.  Maybe she was bringing it so the disciples could use it to anoint others for spiritual purposes.  Maybe she wanted to give the jar to Jesus, but didn’t consider pouring its entire contents on Him.  That doesn’t even make sense.  The disciples objected to her apparent waste of money.  Mary’s character doesn’t seem impractical, except that when it comes to spiritual matters, like the earlier dinner at her sister’s Martha’s home, she knew when the dishes could wait. 

            Jesus Himself defended her actions and proclaimed that what she did should be remembered always, explaining that she was anointing Him for burial.  Her story is contained in all four gospels (John 12:1-8, Matthew 26:6-13; Mark 14:3-9 and Luke 7:37-39).

            As we enter into Holy Week, may we be sensitive to the promptings of God’s Spirit in our souls and not miss out on once in a lifetime opportunities to follow the Spirit’s leadings to spiritual blessings.

Copyright © 2014.  Deborah R. Newman  All Rights Reserved.



Popular posts from this blog

Lenten Devotions

First Monday in Lent: Lent—Winter/Spring I took a weekend Silent Lenten Retreat and learned how special the season of Lent (which means Spring) really is. Being in the lovely setting where winter-spring becomes its own season; I discovered that the transformation from winter to spring reveals the transformation of our souls in Lent. We had an absolutely gorgeous weekend to enjoy solitude with God. Lent is a perfect season to see in nature what God is drawing out of us through the spiritual disciplines we focus on through penitence and preparation for Easter. It is the in-between season that shows us a lot about what we are doing spiritually through our focus on confession. From a distance winter can seem stark and ugly. I feel the same way about confession. But if you take the time to see the winter you can see that the winter season reveals realities that get masked over by the growth of summer. In winter you become aware of what needs to be cleared away. In the same way the confessio…

The Same Spirit

Jesus knew the experience of the Spirit of the Lord resting on Him as He has made possible for all Christians today.When He preached at his home church, He read from Isaiah 61:1-3: The Spiritof the Sovereign Lordis on me,because the Lord has anointedmeto proclaim good newsto the poor.He has sent me to bind upthe brokenhearted,to proclaim freedomfor the captivesand release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favorand the day of vengeanceof our God, to comfortall who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crownof beauty
instead of ashes, the oilof joyinstead of mourning, and a garment of praiseinstead of a spirit of despair
.The chapter goes on and on filled with hope and restoration from the Spirit of the Lord.It is really good stuff—beauty from ashes kind of descriptions.Believe me, if you could actually conceive of the gifts of the Spirit available to you while living in a chaotic world, you would only want God’s Spirit in yo…

Fifth Monday in Lent through Palm Sunday

Fifth Monday in Lent: Righteousness Needed Jesus is all about bringing us righteousness yet we are too worldly focused to think we have much of a need for righteousness. Most of us think we need healing or exciting miracles. We might try to get a little righteousness by going to church on Sunday and giving some spare change to a beggar. God sees the bigger picture and knows that there is nothing which we are more bankrupt than righteousness. He sees that we are totally incapable of getting the righteousness we need through our own actions, so He sent Jesus to give us His righteousness through His sacrificial work on the cross. Lent is a season of repentance and preparation for the Easter celebration. No matter how sacrificial your Lenten fast, it could never be enough to earn your righteousness. I have been practicing Lent foryears, and every year at the end of my fast I come face to face with how far I am from righteousness. Some of the first recorded words of Jesus in the gospels are …