Explorations in Theology

The series explores a theology that is human friendly! Jesus as the true human shows us who God is, and because of his consideration for us ('who are we, that God should make note of us?') defines who humanity was created to be. The nature of sin is to fall short of the glory of God. The glory of God as revealed in the truly human one - 'we beheld his glory full of grace and truth'. This volume is a foundation for the other volumes. And there are ZOOM groups available...
Volume 2 Significant Other and Volume 3 A Subversive Movement now also available!
El libro electrónico (en Español) también ya está disponible
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So go on... you know you want to!!! Order a copy Boz Publications

Mary and Martha: John 11 – 12

This is such a rich story and we begin with the opening verses:

Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. Mary was the one who anointed the Lord with perfume and wiped his feet with her hair; her brother Lazarus was ill. So the sisters sent a message to Jesus, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” But when Jesus heard it, he said, “This illness does not lead to death; rather it is for God’s glory, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” Accordingly, though Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, after having heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.

‘Mary was the one who anointed the Lord with perfume and wiped his feet with her hair’ – an important statement for later!

‘Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus’ – why Martha named and not Mary?

The resuscitation of Lazarus takes place and we then come to the next chapter and a subsequent visit to Lazarus’ home. In John’s account it is Mary, the sister, who anoints Jesus with an extravagant show of love. (We might pull in from Luke’s account that Mary sitting at Jesus’ feet had chosen the ‘better part’.)

She anoints his feet and ‘washes’ them… anoints him for burial. Was her act a catalyst in Jesus’ understanding that his death was both necessary and approaching? Did he meditate on this and that enabled him to reply to the Greeks who wanted to see him (John 12:20-25) that they would one day… but only once a grain of wheat had fallen into the ground and that grain (a Jewish male Messiah) would be raised as a Greek Saviour (and substitute what is necessary for an resurrected but fully incarnated Saviour into all cultures and tribes)?

Did her washing of his feet provoke him to wash the feet of his own disciples? Is there a link between the two for all we have is a chapter division separating the two accounts? (Culturally, it was seriously undignified to wash feet, a woman could be forced to do so, even though it was below what one could expect a Hebrew slave to perform.)

3 thoughts on “Mary and Martha: John 11 – 12

  1. Martin: thanks for these mini reflections. I am enjoying them. They offer a refreshing shift of perspective! I’ve been thinking on how you assert that Jesus was without sin but also growing, learning and maturing. As an educator that is an interesting proposal. So many educate as if a failure to understand or poor performance on a task is a ‘sin’. I try to treat all failures and missteps by students as simply an essential step in learning. I tell them that they often must fail at something first to learn it. Jesus as a student of life intrigues me.

    1. Ann… appreciate the response, and love the ‘Jesus as a student of life’ comment. Shame that so many have never really viewed Jesus as human. I think it might well distort their own view of humanity. I am hopeful over humanity, and inspired as to what we can become.

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