“A friend is one to whom one may pour out the contents of one’s heart, chaff and grain together, knowing that gentle hands will take and sift it, keep what is worth keeping, and with a breath of kindness, blow the rest away.” George Eliot
The anointing of Jesus at Bethany is possibly one of the most poignant passages in the Bible. We see a dinner party thrown by Martha with Jesus, Lazarus, and the disciples in attendance. The house was surely buzzing with conversation about Lazarus’ recent trip back from the dead. And then Mary quietly enters the scene bathing the feet of Jesus in expensive oil and wiping them clean with her hair. Stunningly Beautiful!
At the same time, Judas the betrayer begins to tantrum in agitation over such waste. John, the writer of the gospel, lets his readers know this was because Judas freely stole from their money box on a regular basis.
Such a crew they were – a man who’d been raised from the dead, a thief, extremely emotional women and the very Son of God. The striking distinction of Judas’ wretchedness sandwiched between the beauty of surrender and jubilant gratitude makes his comment all the more abhorrent. How could Jesus love so indiscriminately? He must have known Judas routinely stole from the group.
Obviously Jesus didn’t fixate on the flaws of his companions. He appears to accept the individuals His Father gave Him and loved each one completely. The story contains another stronger, perhaps more subtle aroma in the words Jesus did not say to Judas.
His acceptance and non-verbal love for Judas should drench our soul with a fragrance stronger than Mary’s ointment. While we celebrate Mary’s outward demonstration we should cherish the gracious love Jesus had for Judas. For most, our lives are spent wrestling through our propensity to fail. We long to pour out on a deserving Savior but can’t seem to shake the reality of our own hidden faults. We know we are undeserving.
The unspoken words of this account ought to propel us to the floor; where in prostration we breathe in this grace and claim it as our own.
How easily we fall into the trap of only loving the lovely or serving the deserving? Whether its family, co-workers, neighbors or peers – sometimes it feels as though the relationships we’ve been dealt are disproportionate and undeserved. Individuals don’t seem worthy of our whole heart, maybe part, but not the whole. So we carefully allow partial love or false love, to encase our actions and in so doing – we give none.
When we allow the stench of our own shortcomings to be overpowered with the perfume of Jesus’ solid commitment to love us as we are, we have touched his command to love like him. Let the aroma saturate the deep cells of our soul. There is no other way to fulfill His command of loving as He loved.
Verse for Reflection:
John 15:12 (ESV) “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you”