Spending Money on Jesus: John 12:1-11

Focus Passage: John 12:1-11 (NIV)

Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.

But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.

“Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. “It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.”

Meanwhile a large crowd of Jews found out that Jesus was there and came, not only because of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. 10 So the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus as well, 11 for on account of him many of the Jews were going over to Jesus and believing in him.

Read John 12:1-11 in context and/or in other translations on BibleGateway.com!

Often, as I am reading many of the events found in the gospels, I turn my attention onto Jesus – and specifically on how He reacts to what is happening around Him. While studying this passage, when I turned my attention onto Jesus and looked specifically at how He acted/reacted, a fascinating insight became clear.

With the exception of Jesus and the woman, likely most everyone else in the room was surprised about what had just happened, and many of these people were “indignant” at the price tag of this gift – Judas Iscariot being their spokesman.

However, Jesus’ lack of response says something important to me. Jesus pushes back at those who did not value the gift; against those who were only seeing the price tag involved. This tells me that Jesus/God is willing to accept gifts that cost money – perhaps even a lot of money. Money is irrelevant in comparison to the state of our heart, our mind, and our attitude when we give the gift.

This means that in God’s eyes, it is okay to spend money on things that will bring glory to Him. This was a very expensive gift – one year’s worth of income – and in today’s terms, in the United States economic culture, we could conservatively call this a $30,000 gift.

We don’t know how rich Mary was or even if this gift dented her overall estate. She could have spent all her savings on this gift, or she could have spent just a small fraction of a much larger savings account. Nothing in this passage hints at Mary’s (or the woman’s) financial status – except that she had enough to have purchased this expensive perfume.

However, the focus here should not be about the cost, but about the One that is given the glory. Jesus draws attention to the action, the intention, and the symbolism of what happened, and these things should only be amplified by the cost. The fact that the perfume cost a lot should make the gift that much more significant.

In Jesus’ response to Mary, I see a truth for my life today: It is okay to spend money on things that will bring glory to Jesus. It is okay to not be uptight about the most worthy place to put each penny. What matters most is where my heart, my mind, my attitude, and my focus are – and the only correct answer is on glorifying God.

This thought was inspired by studying the Walking With Jesus "Reflective Bible Study" package. To discover insights like this in your own study time, click here and give Reflective Bible Study a try today!

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