A first contrast is set up by Mary and Judas, two people who have seen Jesus’s ministry firsthand. Mary, just having received her brother back from the dead, demonstrates all-out, even impractical worship to the Lord, anointing him with expensive oil and wiping his feet with her hair. Judas, in contrast, is the picture of selfish indifference. Rather than being moved toward worship by Mary’s affection, he thinks only of what he could have gained from the oil if they had sold it instead–and he judges Jesus for accepting the gift!
This same contrast between belief and unbelief is echoed and magnified immediately after. A crowd of curious Jews, who had heard that Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead, came to see for themselves if it was true. When they saw Lazarus walking and talking, they “[went] away, believing in Jesus.” The chief priests, on the other hand, determine that they will not believe in Jesus, no matter the facts. If seeing Lazarus is causing Jews to believe, then Lazarus must go too. And so they redouble their efforts to kill both Jesus and Lazarus.
Questions: This passage acts as a mirror for us, allowing us to see ourselves as we might have been in the life of Jesus. Are we moved by the ministry of Jesus, by which we learn about who he is?
Do we live our lives thinking more of our devotion to Jesus than anything else? Or do we find ourselves resisting what we know to be true, as the chief priests did, so that we need not change the way we live?
Father, reveal the places in our hearts that resist being changed by our knowledge of you. Help us to see who more clearly you are, so that we might “go away, believing in Jesus,” as the crowd of Jews did. Teach us to repent of caring more about the status quo than about you and your transforming work in this world.