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. So the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus as well, for on account of him many of the Jews were going over to Jesus and believing in him.
WORTHship – \ˈwərth-shəp\ def. to give worth to something or someone
How does one determine the value or worth of something or someone? From an economic standpoint, one can argue that through free trade a fair market value can be assigned to most things. Yet, that does not account for an item’s perceived worth, by either the giver or the recipient; e.g. a favorite old t-shirt. This passage forces us to examine the “worth” iness of many things.
What is the value of a jar of nard? From a purely economic standpoint it was roughly the cost of a year’s wages at that time, as pointed out by Judas. We’ll never know its actual significance to Mary of Bethany but we can assume it was probably one of the most expensive things she owned and probably something she cherished. Did she waste it, as Judas implied?
What is the worth of a human life? Believe it or not, economists, researchers and other analysts have callously placed the value to be about $2 to $7 million. Really? What about a loved one? Even more so, what about a second chance with a loved one? Remember, just a few days earlier, Jesus had resurrected Mary’s brother, Lazarus, from the dead. Surely, a jar of nard doesn’t recompense for that. How about a chance at a second life? What is that worth?
What of Mary’s action of washing Jesus’ feet? Is there any value in that? Obviously it didn’t cost her anything, or did it? Especially appropriate in this day and age of secular relativism, where the “selfie” has become the iconography of the rapidly spreading religion of egotism, her act of supplication may have been the most worthy.
What is your or my life worth? If the idiom is true that something is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it, do you realize what you’re worth in God’s eyes? God the Father gave his one and only son, Jesus paid with his life and the Holy Spirit dwells in us. That is how much God paid and thus how much God values us. Insane! If and when that jaw-dropping reality sinks in, we have no other alternative but to emulate Mary and lie prostrate before our King, our Lord, in abject servility offering him only our best in adoration … in “worth”ship.
Note: Each day’s devotional is written by a different member of the GRC family.