52 Weeks at the Table – Week 40 (Alternate)
In an incident that so closely echoes the one described in Matthew 26, Mark 14 and Luke 7 that it has long been debated whether they are one and the same, John names the woman who anoints Jesus’ feet at Bethany with expensive perfume. In this record, she was Mary, one of two sisters of Lazarus who had been recently raised from death to life by Jesus. As the fragrant perfume filled the house, Judas Iscariot – who would later sell Him out – objected aloud to the waste of money, which could have been used to bless the poor. With Lazarus right there at the table with them, Jesus countered the objection by saying that she was anointing Him for burial; that they would always have poor people to bless, but they would not always have Him.
It must have been incomprehensible to them that this One who had power over death for others would yield that power when it came to Himself. But the plot to take His life was already in play; had begun in earnest when Lazarus was raised. At this table, Judas the purse-pilferer (John 12:6) shared his frustration with the way the ministry’s finances were viewed – and may have experienced the first motivations to become a part of that plot just six days before the Passover would be celebrated in Jerusalem.
A Prayer Over the Bread
A Giver of great extravagance are You, our God … and no gift excels that of your Son. Were His feet among us at this Table, they would deserve the richest of our gifts of gratitude. But we see that not only His feet, but His body is present in this bread and in those of us who share it. Help us also to see in it the purpose of His ministry: to sacrifice self for others, so that all who are poor may be richly blessed through what He gave. Give us feet that carry this fragrant gospel. Help us always to anoint Him not only as buried, but as immortal King. Amen.
A Prayer Over the Cup
This cup, righteous God, contains the priceless blood of Your Son, which purchases life for the lifeless. As we share in its power, bless us with a yearning for that life of selfless giving. Help us to see that we are the ones in spiritual poverty, enriched in a way we cannot earn. Help us to see the incomparable value of the eternal over the temporal. Help us to see Jesus, we pray in His name: Amen.