I hadn’t planned on reading the first section John 12, but found myself immersed in the story this week. I became aware, that for all the times I’ve read it, I hadn’t really taken in the setting, imagining what it must have been like to be there, what it must have been like to be Mary, sister of Lazarus. Her brother had recently been raised from the dead after four days in the grave! Jesus had done the impossible! Their lives were forever changed. Mary wanted to do something to show Jesus how grateful she was; she felt she might burst. So many people had come to believe Jesus was the Messiah because of what he did for her family. What she didn’t quite expect was the distressing backlash from the resurrection of Lazarus. People should be happy! Those who were threatened by Jesus and his miracles were plotting to kill him, and Lazarus too! It was easy to see things might get dangerous, and fast, and Mary wanted, no needed, to show Jesus her gratitude and that she would be steadfast in her loyalty and love, no matter what.
Martha, Mary’s sister, herself, and Lazarus prepared a dinner to honor Jesus when he came back in town. Toward the end of dinner, Mary came in with a large bottle of expensive perfume, worth 300 days of a laborer’s wages. She reverently paused and then began to anoint Jesus’ feet with the perfume, wiping his feet with her hair. Her bold and extravagant act was accentuated by the fragrance filling the room. She didn’t care if she was criticized or misunderstood. All that mattered was Jesus. Her inkling was correct, the political climate was dangerous. Jesus defended her extravagance by saying, ” Leave her alone. She did this in preparation of my burial….”
Becoming familiar with the setting helps me appreciate the intense situation. I am moved by the bold extravagance of Mary. I can imagine being her, and that causes me to consider what Jesus has done for me. Honestly, I don’t think I would be alive today if it weren’t for Jesus. He has changed my life. I am so grateful for the life he has given me.
Questions arise: How can I be bold and extravagant with my gratitude and love for Jesus? What does it mean for me to be “poured out?” What is the invitation God is calling me to?
For the illumination above, I did not paint directly in the Bible margin. Instead, I sketched the idea in pencil and then traced it in pencil and pen onto another piece of paper. Then I thickened some of the lines of “hair” and added patterns with Pitt pens. After a coat of acrylic glazing liquid dried, I painted using fluid acrylic paints. Then I cut it out and glued it into the margin. The highlighting of the Scripture was done with Prismacolor colored pencil to match.