Wash My Feet: John 12:1-8
“She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial” (v 7). It might seem a bit morbid to prepare for Jesus’ burial, to keep his death in mind. But here Jesus commends Mary’s focus. The popular wisdom is that congregations are built on the happy things about Christianity. “Who,” I’ve heard it asked more than once, “wants to come to church to be made sad?” “Sunday morning should be a party.”
To be mindful of the death and burial of Jesus is to stay close to the Savior’s deepest love and lessons. This is what love will do; this is the servant’s strength. This is where humility is seen in its most intense form. The death of Jesus isn’t important just to give the resurrection its backdrop. The death of Jesus gives the resurrection its message: Love cannot be defeated.
To be mindful of the death and burial of Jesus is to keep the gift of life in proper perspective. This is not a dark dampening of joy, but an enrichment of joy. To be mindful of the death and burial of Jesus is to live with an awareness of the holiness of personal sacrifice.
But it may also be that Mary’s preparation for the burial of Jesus was not a conscious preparation. It may be simply that treasuring time with Jesus was as present to her in the days of his living as it would be in the dark days of his entombment. Perhaps she wasn’t thinking of his death, but was thinking of the richness of his life. Perhaps her act of worship was of the same reverent essence as acts of mourning would soon be. Jesus knew that Mary’s anointing of his feet would take on meaning in a short while, whether or not she knew it.
Grieving at Jesus’ death and burial is connected to the resurrection joy of our current day worship in more ways than just contrast. Could it be that our grieving at Jesus’ death and burial brings an authenticity and holy decorum to our liturgies of joy? Grieving and joy live close to each other.
Jesus and the poor live close to each other as well. Perhaps Judas needs to realize that those who anoint Jesus’ feet are most likely to give tender care to the poor as well. Humbling yourself before Jesus is great rehearsal for humbling yourself before the poor. If Judas were to practice on me while I’m here, then he might really be concerned about the poor and grant them the ministry you grant me; he might even see me in them. Are you concerned about the poor? Wash my feet. Grieve for me. Then wash the feet of the poor. Then grieve for the plight of the poor. If you do this for me, you’ve done it for them; the transition is smooth.
Could it be possible that learning how to grieve and how to serve connect us more effectively to the culture that surrounds the Church than learning how to party? Could knowing the fragrance of grief and service be of more value than knowing what ministry programs 300 denarii could finance?
Mary teaches us how to love and to grieve and to worship in one act of costly humility.
Open all our senses to the presence of life and death in Christ.
A word about the series
The Lenten season has always inspired many people to create everything from poems, art and music to a completely new direction in their lives. This Lenten season Tabernacle will be exploring many of those creations in the hope of inspiring you to compose in a medium that is natural for you. The paintings in the Sanctuary are of the Biblical Stations of the Cross. The artist, Grieg Leach, completed them in 2010. They will help us to visualize the events leading to the crucifixion of Jesus. In addition to the paintings there is a Lenten devotional booklet, Return to Me, which is available in print or online. The Stations of the Cross also inspired these devotions, written by Terry York of Baylor University. Living with these two bodies of artistic expression based on the Biblical Stations of the Cross throughout the season of Lent should help us as we seek to return our lives to God by walking with Jesus though his final days.
Pray, read, think and return to God.
All scripture quotations are from the New Revised Standard Version Bible.
Copyright © 2013 Birnamwood Publications (ASCAP)
A division of MorningStar Music Publishers, Inc., St. Louis, MO
All rights reserved. Printed in U.S.A.