Today, I am reading and commenting on John 12-13.
In today’s passage John tells us a story of Mary, Martha’s sister, anointing Jesus’ feet with expensive perfume. It is not clear if this is the same story as told in the other Gospels, some of the details differ, but not in ways which are distinctly contradictory. I was initially not going to write about it today, but then I thought about Judas’ reaction. It made me realize that many times those who call on us to give to aid the poor are, like Judas here, not so much concerned with helping the poor as they are with gaining control over our money. You see that with politicians who develop programs to “help the poor” which fail to change anything for the poor. You see that with some people who run organizations which supposedly aid the poor. This is not to say that all such programs and organizations have ulterior motives, just that we need to examine them closely. It is never wrong to aid the poor, but there are times when serving those who minister to the poor is a better use of our resources. We should be cautious of those who attempt to make us feel guilty about how we choose to do good with our resources.
The story of Jesus washing the disciples feet has long been one of great meaning to me. The first thing we notice, and the main focus of this story, is that Jesus, the Teacher, the most prominent person present, takes the role of servant and washes everyone else’s feet. Jesus makes it clear that if we want to be His followers we need to similarly serve others. However, there is another point in here which is easy to miss. If we want to be Jesus’ followers we also have to allow others to serve us. When Jesus went to wash Peter’s feet, Peter tried to demur, but Jesus insisted. So, this passage teaches us that greatness comes from serving others, but refusing to allow others to serve us puts us outside of the community.