Being Attentive

While the chief priest and scribes plotted to kill Jesus after the Passover, Jesus was at the home of Simon the Leper, when a woman, unnamed in Mark, but identified as Mary the sister of Lazarus in John, brought a flask of perfume with which she anointed Jesus’ head. However, there were some there who rebuked her, unnamed again in Mark, but identified as Judas Iscariot in John who rebuked her because the perfume could have been sold and the proceeds given to the poor. John commented in his account, that Judas had no concern for the poor, but criticized Mary because he was the treasurer and a thief who stole from the money box. Jesus reminded them that she had done a good thing and anointed his body for burial, but they would always have the poor with them whom they could assist. On the other hand they would not always have Jesus present with them to anoint and honor. Then Jesus added that what she had done would be remembered wherever the gospel was preached.

This account reveals some implications, that there are particular seasons in which we can honor Jesus. This was one of them. Jesus was only present on earth for a time; Mary took advantage of that time. She understood and was sensitive to the time in which she lived and took the opportunity to honor Jesus. Because of what she did, she would always be remembered whenever the good news of Jesus is proclaimed. It is interesting that this account took place right after Jesus instructed his disciples to be attentive and watch for his coming. Immediately in Mark 14, Mark gave the account of Mary anointing Jesus. The connection of the two passages indicates that Mary was an illustration of someone who was being attentive, which was to be an example of how Jesus’ disciples were and are to live. We are to be attentive to what is going on around us; what is happening in our generation. As Mary was, we are to be prepared and take advantage of our opportunities to honor Jesus with the time that we have.

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