The Fragrance of Love Poured Out

Seated among his dearest friends, Jesus displays his vulnerability and receives the grace of love poured out upon him by Mary.  In a hushed and poignant act of intimacy, Jesus risks living openly and vulnerably with both those who are trustworthy and those who are not. Love is costly, both to give and to receive. The extravagance of this gift is noted in the text but what of the smell itself? The whole home was filled with the fragrance of nard which in a Hebrew home would have been associated with the temple and death. Jesus, what does this poured out love on you look like and smell like in our own homes?

John 12:1-11 (NLT)
Six days before the Passover celebration began, Jesus arrived in Bethany, the home of Lazarus—the man he had raised from the dead. 2 A dinner was prepared in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, and Lazarus was among those who ate with him. 3 Then Mary took a twelve-ounce jar of expensive perfume made from essence of nard, and she anointed Jesus’ feet with it, wiping his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance.
4 But Judas Iscariot, the disciple who would soon betray him, said, 5 “That perfume was worth a year’s wages. It should have been sold and the money given to the poor.” 6 Not that he cared for the poor—he was a thief, and since he was in charge of the disciples’ money, he often stole some for himself.
7 Jesus replied, “Leave her alone. She did this in preparation for my burial. 8 You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.”
9 When all the people heard of Jesus’ arrival, they flocked to see him and also to see Lazarus, the man Jesus had raised from the dead. 10 Then the leading priests decided to kill Lazarus, too, 11 for it was because of him that many of the people had deserted them and believed in Jesus.

For Reflection and Prayer:
If something captured your attention - a word, a phrase, an image - let this simmer in you and allow the Spirit to expand its meaning for you. Journal what you hear and your response.

This passage lends itself well to immersing yourself in the story. It is filled with sights, sounds, smells and tastes. Notice what captures your attention and stay with it for a while. Savor your interaction with Jesus and rest in any consolation he brings.

The intimacy of this family reunion is palpable. What longings rise up in you as you observe this family with Jesus? Write about them in your journal.

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Remembering Dwelling with God Together

The Jewish Feast of Booths is the context within which the following conversation takes place between Jesus and his brothers. This annual feast is celebrated communally as a remembrance of God's dwelling with the Israelite's as they journeyed through the wilderness (that place where we go to hear God). God's sheltering presence was with them before and with them now in the person of Jesus - the Word who became flesh and made his dwelling among us. Stay curious. What might Jesus want them and us to eventually discover about his presence?

John 7:1-13ESV

After this Jesus went about in Galilee. He would not go about in Judea, because the Jews were seeking to kill him. 2 Now the Jews' Feast of Booths was at hand. 3 So his brothers said to him, “Leave here and go to Judea, that your disciples also may see the works you are doing. 4 For no one works in secret if he seeks to be known openly. If you do these things, show yourself to the world.” 5 For not even his brothers believed in him. 6 Jesus said to them, “My time has not yet come, but your time is always here. 7 The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify about it that its works are evil. 8 You go up to the feast. I am not[c] going up to this feast, for my time has not yet fully come.” 9 After saying this, he remained in Galilee.

10 But after his brothers had gone up to the feast, then he also went up, not publicly but in private. 11 The Jews were looking for him at the feast, and saying, “Where is he?” 12 And there was much muttering about him among the people. While some said, “He is a good man,” others said, “No, he is leading the people astray.” 13 Yet for fear of the Jews no one spoke openly of him.

For Reflection and Prayer:

If something grabbed your attention - a word, phrase, an image, a sound - stay with that and receive the explanation the Holy Spirit may give you.

Observe the family and community dynamics surrounding this "holiday". What do you notice? If anything intersects with your own story, bring this into your prayer with Jesus.

Receive any consolation that comes to you and quietly rest in God as you conclude your time of prayer.

Longing to Belong

Who do you belong to? Do you know who your family is? Can you feel your longing to belong to someone, somewhere?
For some this longing feels like an ache. This ache to be included, to belong, to not be alone is a real and core longing of every soul. In this snippet of his life and ministry, Jesus invites us into a new way of seeing. Those who gather around the presence of Christ are included in his family. Listen for his words to you as you draw near.

Mark 3:31-35 NLT
Then Jesus’ mother and brothers came to see him. They stood outside and sent word for him to come out and talk with them. 32 There was a crowd sitting around Jesus, and someone said, “Your mother and your brothers are outside asking for you.”

33 Jesus replied, “Who is my mother? Who are my brothers?” 34 Then he looked at those around him and said, “Look, these are my mother and brothers. 35 Anyone who does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”

For Reflection and Prayer:
What word or phrase spoke to you as you listened/read the text?
What do you notice about Jesus in this passage?
Who are your mother/brothers/sisters?
What message do you hear God speaking to you through this text?
Take your ache to belong, to be included, to not be left alone into your prayer with Jesus. Simply sit with him and your ache, allowing his presence to minister to you as you are. You might say these words to Jesus, "I belong to You".