The Pursuit of God

Serious Topics for Serious Christians

Know Your Bible Lesson 60: Greedy Disciples

KYB 60

AUDIO VERSION: YouTube  Podbean

Nothing about Jesus’ gory execution on earth was a surprise to Him. None of it was forced upon Him. But He knows it will be quite a shock to His twelve disciples, who are living in a fog of denial and dreaming of all the glory they’ll rake in for being best pals with Yahweh’s promised Messiah. To help His disciples prepare for the great shock of His execution, Jesus tells them about it ahead of time in great detail.

Taking the twelve disciples aside, Jesus once more began to describe everything that was about to happen to Him. “Listen,” He said, “we’re going up to Jerusalem, where the Son of Man will be betrayed to the leading priests and the teachers of religious law. They will sentence Him to die and hand Him over to the Romans. They will mock Him, spit on Him, flog Him with a whip, and kill Him, but after three days He will rise again.” (Mk. 10:32-34)

This is not the first time Jesus has talked about His upcoming death, but whenever He brings the subject up, the disciples don’t want to listen. It’s too upsetting to think of their great Leader having such horrible things done to Him. So rather than say something useful like, “Wow, Lord, this is so upsetting! Please help me deal with this in a way that pleases You,” the disciples simply change the subject of conversation to something that they can get into.

Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came over and spoke to Him. “Teacher,” they said, “we want You to do us a favor.”

“What is your request?” He asked.

They replied, “When You sit on Your glorious throne, we want to sit in places of honor next to You, one on Your right and the other on Your left.” (Mk. 10:35-37)

This is in the days when human kings sat on royal thrones in glorious royal palaces. Often those kings had absolute power, so to be invited to sit beside their throne was a great privilege which often indicated you were pretty big stuff. James and John are not just asking to share the spotlight with Jesus, they’re asking to rule with Him. They’re asking for the highest positions of power that they can imagine being available to humans on the other side. Some favor.

But Jesus said to them, “You don’t know what you are asking! Are you able to drink from the bitter cup of suffering I am about to drink? Are you able to be baptized with the baptism of suffering I must be baptized with?” (Mk. 10:38)

No doubt annoyed by the fact that everyone’s blowing off what He just said about His own death, Jesus pulls the focus back onto His prophetic words and reminds James and John that rewards on the other side have to be earned. They aren’t just handed out for free. Why on earth do these two brothers think they qualify for such a great privilege? Is their devotion to Yahweh really as great as Jesus’? Well, of course it is.

“Oh yes,” they replied, “we are able!” (Mk. 10:39)

You gotta love this instant response that is so lacking in thought and so filled with greed. No doubt they would have said “yes” to anything Jesus had asked at this point because they think He’s about to agree to give them what they want. Here’s where Jesus turns the tables on them and, after getting them to declare that they are so willing to suffer for God’s sake, He refuses to make any guarantees.

Then Jesus told them, “You will indeed drink from My bitter cup and be baptized with My baptism of suffering. But I have no right to say who will sit on My right or My left. Yahweh has prepared those places for the ones He has chosen.” (Mk. 10:39-40)

At this point, the disciples still aren’t grasping the concept of Jesus being God Almighty. They’re still viewing Him as a mere human with a super special calling. Knowing this, Jesus turns their focus onto Yahweh—the only God they currently acknowledge—and tells them that Yahweh is the One who will be passing out the rewards. Is this really true? No, because our Gods do everything together. Yahweh, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit are all going to be judging us on the other side, but these disciples aren’t theologically open to that idea right now so Jesus doesn’t even try to explain how things will actually work. Instead, He turns their focus onto Yahweh to get them to stop being so greedy. They feel free to march up to Jesus and make this obnoxious request because their reverence for Him is seriously lacking. But they probably wouldn’t be so bold as to make this request of Yahweh Himself, so telling them that Yahweh is the One in charge of passing out the seats in Heaven is an effective way for Jesus to shut them down. And they need to be shut down because this greedy attempt to exalt themselves over everyone else is now causing a lot of resentment among the other disciples.

When the ten other disciples heard what James and John had asked, they were indignant. So Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyone else. For even the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.” (Mk. 10:41-45)

When Jesus says He came to serve, He’s talking about serving God. Today in the Church, you’ll be told that Jesus served people. No, He really didn’t. Our Gods never serve us, and to promote this idea is quite irreverent. In our study of the Gospels so far, we’ve seen Jesus steamrolling over the preachers of His day, breaking rules, starting fights, and helping only those He wants to help when and how He wants to help them. Jesus leads, He doesn’t follow. He gives the orders, He doesn’t take them. In the New Testament epistles, you’ll find Jesus being minimized as some mere human Assistant of Yahweh’s. You’ll be told that Jesus didn’t view Himself as all that fabulous, and that He had to actually suffer on earth to figure out exactly what it means to please God. He’ll be described as some limited Being who struggles and strains to overcome formidable foes like Satan and Death. This is all utter nonsense, of course. Jesus is God, and if we’re going to interpret His words properly, we have to view them in their original context.

In this passage, Jesus is addressing the arrogance of His own immature disciples. Contrary to what we’re often taught in the Church, the twelve were not shining models of spiritual maturity. They were resistant, rebellious, and quick to go off on carnal tangents, which is why Jesus is so often crispy with them. In this passage from Mark 10, we see a classic pattern of Jesus trying to tell them something important only to have them ignore Him and then get off on something ridiculous. Jesus then reprimands their foolishness with a lecture about humility. James and John have just asked to be first in eternity: to get a guarantee of mega glory and power  early on in the game. Such a request is utterly inappropriate, and Jesus says:

“Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyone else.”

Jesus is talking to men who live in a society where slavery abounded. He’s not saying these men should go around groveling at the feet of other humans, He’s telling them that they need to stop with the self-exaltation and adopt a more humble attitude. Do you think James and John want to think of themselves as servants and slaves in this moment? No, their pride would gag at the thought, for their minds are currently fantasizing about ruling as eternal kings. The other disciples are only jealous because they, too, want to rule in glory. Submission is a lost concept for all of these men right now, and Jesus tries to bring them back to it by giving them a very different image to focus on: that of serving instead of ruling. This is about reining in pride that is running amuck.

Now a good servant in Jewish society understood that he was not equal to his master. He didn’t have any rights. In the eyes of the law, he was considered a mere piece of property. He had to do whatever his master said, and to thrive in such a situation required embracing a mindset of submission and humility. To avoid getting bitter, a servant had to learn to view his master’s approval as his great reward and totally let go of the dream of ever being his master’s equal. This same attitude is what our Gods want from us: They want us to embrace the soul attitudes of submission and humility. They want us to view Their approval as our great reward in life, and stop lusting after irrelevant extras, like glory, authority, and power over other created things. Is this the mindset James and John are in? No. They could have come to Jesus and said, “Your approval is everything. What can we do to be totally pleasing in Your sight?” But instead, they said, “Yo, Jesus. No doubt You’re going to be wanting some assistants to help manage Your kingdom—how about You reserve the top spots for us?” There’s no submission in this request, only egotistical exaltation and a greedy grabbing at power. Instead of focusing on serving their Lord, these two brothers want to be lords themselves. It’s this rotten soul attitude that Jesus comes down on and He tells them that if they want promotions on the other side, they’d better start learning to think like slaves.

Now it’s important that we don’t get confused about who our masters are in life. In the Church, there is far too much importance put on serving and pleasing people. Far too often it is human preferences alone which shape the topics we choose to preach on, the songs we choose for the worship hour, and the ministries we choose to promote. Is this pleasing to God? No, it’s utterly repulsive. Our Gods are supposed to come FIRST—not barely first, but so far out in front that the runner up is hard to see. Pleasing Them is supposed to be the goal which our entire existence revolves around. Who do we marry? What job do we take? What school do we attend? How do we spend our money? How do we spend our time? We are supposed to be actively involving our Gods in all of these decisions, not ignoring Them until some emergency arises. There is no place for sucking up to humans in the serious Christian’s life, for more often than not, what humans want directly counters what our Gods want.

THE SALVATION OF ZACCHEUS

By now Jesus has made a big loop from down south near Jerusalem, up to the north near His hometown of Nazareth, and then back down south again. He’s now passing through Jericho on His way to Jerusalem. This is His final trip to Jerusalem—the trip that will end in His brutal execution. It’s strange to think that no one to the north realizes they’ve just seen Jesus for the last time—that He’s about to leave Israel forever.

KYB 60 map

Now as He’s passing through the city of Jericho which is near Jerusalem, a great crowd gathers. After all, we’re back in the region of Jerusalem, where Jesus recently made quite the ruckus by calling Himself “I AM.” After claiming to be the Messiah over and over again, and then leaving for a while to let everyone contemplate His claims, Jesus is intentionally spiking everyone’s expectations in the wrong direction. After all, Yahweh has said that His Messiah will rule as a king in Jerusalem. So now that Jesus has returned, everyone’s expecting Him to finally claim His right to the throne. Of course with Rome controlling the region, Israel’s king would be viewed as little more than a figurehead. But surely Jesus has come to oust Rome and make all of the nations of the world bow down to glorious Israel. That’s how the Jews have interpreted the Messianic prophecies they find in their Scriptures: the Messiah is going to make Israel the dominate world power. Why has Jesus been flaunting His miraculous powers all this time if not to prove to the Jews how capable He is of leading Israel into a new golden age? It’s all so obvious, and as news of Jesus’ arrival spreads through Jericho, naturally everyone wants to catch a glimpse.

Now when you’re shorter than the average fellow, it becomes very challenging to get your turn at seeing the circus go by. So often folks who are taller than you block your view. How can you compensate for your anatomical disadvantage? Climbing a tree is a practical solution. As Jesus heads through Jericho, a high ranking tax-collector named Zaccheus [zak-KEY-us] runs out ahead and hikes up a sycamore tree. Zaccheus is short, and he doesn’t want to miss his chance at seeing a local legend. But Zaccheus is also hated by the general public because he’s the jerk who goes around bilking his fellow Jews. Certainly the Romans charge taxes, but Zaccheus charges a lot more and then keeps the extra for himself. It’s by stepping on the necks of others that Zaccheus has become a wealthy man and naturally others despise him for it, just as they despise all tax collectors. It’s considered a very shady profession because the men who do it often become shady as they find the access to power and money too hard to resist. When’s the last time you heard of an honest drug lord or a pimp with godly character? Certain professions bring out the worst in us, and in these times, being a tax collector was one of those corrupting careers. So no one likes Zaccheus, and Zaccheus knows he’s a dirty cheat, but lately he’s been doing a lot of soul searching and right now he’s just dying to make a personal connection with Jesus.

When Jesus came by, He looked up at Zaccheus and called to him by name. “Zaccheus! Quick, come down! For I must be a guest in your home today.” (Lk. 19:5)

Jesus calls Zaccheus

This is one of those super cool God moments which is a fabulous illustration of how God responds to our soul’s desire for Him and He never gets hung up on our current circumstances or our past failings. To everyone else, Zaccheus seems like the same sleaze that he’s always been, yet Jesus knows that this little man is starting to have a major change of heart. He’s feeling very convicted about his lifestyle and he’s really wanting to change his ways. Some personal encouragement from God right about now could make all the difference.

Tax collectors aren’t supposed to repent. They’ve got a lavish lifestyle and shady friends and they’re up to their necks in a corrupt social network. How hard is it for a gang leader to suddenly tell his buddies, “Hey guys, I’m not so into this life of violence and crime anymore. I’m really feeling like I need to get my act together and get serious about pleasing my Maker.” Crooks don’t applaud other crooks for trying to transfer onto the high road. Instead, they do everything in their power to punish anyone who tries to start listening to his convictions. Evil hates the light. Jesus knows that Zaccheus has reached a major crossroads in his personal life and Jesus has intentionally come to Zaccheus’ town at this exact moment to push the little man in the right direction. His plan works fabulously. The moment Jesus says Zaccheus’ name, Zaccheus’ face lights up with joy.

Zaccheus

Zaccheus quickly climbed down from the tree and took Jesus to his house in great excitement and joy. But the crowds were displeased. “He has gone to be the guest of a notorious sinner!” they grumbled.

Meanwhile, Zaccheus said to the Lord, “I will give half my wealth to the poor, Lord, and if I have overcharged people on their taxes, I will give them back four times as much!” (Lk. 19:6-8)

Before Jesus even says one convicting word, Zaccheus rushes to tell Him about the plans he’s made—plans that he probably hasn’t found the courage to execute until this very moment. But now that Jesus is standing right there, radiating His Divine aura, Zaccheus is desperate to please. In this speech, he is trying to convince Jesus that he is sincerely repentant about his past sins. Maybe you can relate. Have you ever felt desperate to convince God of how sorry you were about some sin you committed in the past? Have you ever worried that maybe your words weren’t enough? Well, this is what is so fabulous about our Gods: They see into our very souls. They know what we are trying to say even when we can’t find the right words. They never misunderstand us. Listen to how Jesus responds to sincere little Zaccheus.

Jesus responded, “Salvation has come to this home today, for this man has shown himself to be a son of Abraham. And I, the Son of Man, have come to seek and save those like him who are lost.” (Lk. 19:9-10)

How awesome is this? Jesus has just declared that Zaccheus is saved. Wow! When He says that Zaccheus is a son of Abraham, He is referring to the fact that Zaccheus is making the same right spiritual choices that Abraham made by sincerely submitting to God and honestly desiring to please Him. Also notice how Jesus says He has come to seek as well as save those who are spiritually lost. How awesome that our Gods come after us—that They track us down and call out to us while we’re living in a fog of self-centeredness. Before Jesus even came to town, Zaccheus was having a spiritual awakening. Now Jesus declares that Zaccheus is in a right standing with God right out loud in front of a bunch of other people. What a fabulous moment this is for Zaccheus!

THE PARABLE OF THE NOBLEMAN TURNED KING (aka The Parable of the Ten Gold Coins)

The crowd was listening to everything Jesus said. And because He was nearing Jerusalem, He told a story to correct the impression that the Kingdom of God would begin right away. (Lk. 19:11)

What exactly is the Kingdom of God? Well, the term has different meanings depending on context. When Jesus is talking about how to enter the Kingdom of God or the Kingdom of Heaven, He is using the term to refer to all souls who have been eternally accepted by Yahweh. If Jesus considers you to be a Christian today, then you are a member of God’s Kingdom. We could also say you’re a member of Christ’s Church. Born again, saved, child of God—all of these terms are saying the same thing: that you have met Yahweh’s New Covenant requirements for obtaining eternal salvation.

So then, usually Jesus is simply referring to the community of souls who have been accepted by their Gods when He talks about the Kingdom of God or the Kingdom of Heaven. This is why He sometimes tells people that, “The Kingdom of God is already among you.” There are believers in Heaven and there are other believers who are still living on earth—either way, God’s Kingdom is not something that we’re waiting to form, it’s already a reality.

But here in Luke 19, Luke says that Jesus is going to launch into a parable that is meant to teach that God’s Kingdom won’t begin right away. What does this mean? Well, Luke is using a different definition of God’s Kingdom here. Instead of referring to the community of souls who have been accepted by Yahweh, Luke is talking about the Jewish expectation that Jesus is about to launch an earthly kingdom in the political nation of Israel. This sudden change in kingdom definitions is confusing, but remember that Yahweh really made it sound like His Messiah would literally serve as a human ruler on a physical throne in the earthly city of Jerusalem. In other words, Yahweh intentionally taught the Jews to expect something that would never happen, and we discussed some of His reasons for doing this back in Lesson 25.

Notice how Luke says that the Kingdom of God won’t begin right away. Well, the kingdom that Luke has in mind will never begin. Today, Jews and Christians who are clinging to the belief that God will one day restore Israel into some great world power are putting their faith in something that will never happen. God has no intention of ever turning the political nation of Israel into some global ruler, and if we were paying closer attention to the way Yahweh describes the great restoration of Israel in the Old Testament, we should start to suspect something is amiss. For one thing, all of the descriptions of Israel in glory include a Temple and a sacrificial system—two concepts which Yahweh has completely abolished in the New Covenant. No, Yahweh really isn’t planning to one day have the whole world revert back to Judaism and pretend that Christ never happened.

The introduction of Christ makes it impossible for those Old Testament prophecies about Israel to be literally fulfilled. But after seeing how many Messianic prophecies Christ failed to literally fulfill, we shouldn’t be too surprised to discover that Yahweh was leading us astray about Israel’s political future as well. Think about it: Did Christ ever sit on a throne in Jerusalem? No. Did the rulers of other nations stream to His throne in Jerusalem and bow down before Him? No. Did He reign even one day as a political figure in Israel? No. Was He even a true biological descendant of David? No, because only Joseph descended from David and there was no genetic relationship between Joseph and Jesus. Did Jesus establish justice on earth and slay all of the wicked? No. Jesus doesn’t come close to literally fulfilling many of the prophecies Yahweh makes about Him. It’s only by getting very poetic and symbolic and ridiculously exaggeratory that we can try to say, “Uh, yeah, okay, I see how Jesus was a kind of guilt offering for our sins…even though everything about His death was a complete violation of the Old Covenant requirements for a guilt offering…because Yahweh said human sacrifices were an abomination…and Jesus wasn’t processed by Levitical priests…but hey, let’s not get technical” (see How the Cross Broke the Law).

So is Luke correct in assuming that the parable Jesus is about to tell is about warning everyone that Israel’s glory days are going to be more delayed than the Jews expect? Let’s examine the parable for ourselves and see what we think.

“A nobleman was called away to a distant empire to be crowned king and then return. Before he left, he called together ten servants and gave them ten gold coins (worth about three months’ of wages each) to invest for him while he was gone. But his people hated him and sent a delegation after him to say they did not want him to be their king.” (Lk. 19:12-14)

Okay, so we’ve got some nasty people who are totally against a local nobleman being promoted over them. They’re so adamant that he not become their king that some of them join together and head out as a group to try and stop the promotion from happening. Who do you think these hostile folks are supposed to represent? The Jews, of course—Jesus’ fellow countrymen. Remember that Jesus is making His final trip to Jerusalem where religious leaders are lying in wait to kill Him. Jesus is the nobleman in this story, and the distant emperor who is going to crown Jesus as king over the region is Yahweh. Now in the parable, before the nobleman heads off to get his promotion, he calls together some of his servants and gives them each some money to invest for him while he is away on his long journey.

“When he returned, the king called in the servants to whom he had given the money. He wanted to find out what they had done with the money and what their profits were. The first servant reported a tremendous gain—ten times as much as the original amount! ‘Well done!’ the king exclaimed. ‘You are a trustworthy servant. You have been faithful with the little I entrusted to you, so you will be governor of ten cities as your reward.’

The next servant also reported a good gain—five times the original amount. ‘Well done!’ the king said. ‘You can be governor over five cities.’

But the third servant brought back only the original amount of money and said, ‘I hid it and kept it safe. I was afraid because you are a hard man to deal with, taking what isn’t yours and harvesting crops you didn’t plant.’” (Lk. 19:15-21)

This story sounds rather familiar, doesn’t it? It’s very similar to The Parable of the Talents in which three servants are entrusted with money and the third one buries his amount in the ground instead of investing it. Here in this parable, the nobleman-turned-king is quite generous with the rewards for the two servants who made a sincere effort to serve him well in his absence. But this third servant is quite mouthy. Not only does he accuse the king of having evil character, but his excuse does nothing to justify why he didn’t get off his lazy duff and try to do something productive with his master’s money.

“‘You wicked servant!’ the king roared. ‘Your own words condemn you! If you knew that I’m a hard man who takes what isn’t mine and harvests crops I didn’t plant, why didn’t you deposit my money in the bank? At least I could have gotten some interest on it.’

Then, turning to the others standing nearby, the king ordered, ‘Take the money from this servant, and give it to the one who has ten coins.’

‘But, master,’ they said, ‘he already has ten coins!’

‘Yes,’ the king replied, ‘and to those who use well what they are given, even more will be given. But from those who do nothing, even what little they have will be taken away. And as for these enemies of mine who didn’t want me to be their king—bring them in and execute them right here in front of me!’” (Lk. 19:22-27)

So what do you think: is this really just about Israel’s glory days being delayed? Not hardly. This parable is teaching us some important lessons about Divine judgment and proper soul attitude. Whenever the God character gets ticked in one of these stories, we need to pay attention, because Jesus is telling us something about how our Gods operate.

In this story, the lazy servant refuses to own up to his own defiance, and he instead tries to say the king is the real problem. Many souls today are going down this same road. “If that’s who God is, then who needs Him?” is a common protest among unbelievers who have decided that they disapprove of how God operates. Well, guess what? You might not like God, but He’s still the One holding your molecules together, so how stupid is it to lip off to Him? If you had any smarts, you’d at least put some effort into getting on His good side. In this parable, the servant had the option of putting his master’s money in a bank. That would have required little effort, and it would have yielded less profit, but at least it would show some concern for pleasing the master. Instead, the servant just sits on his hands and does nothing. Then he has the gall to insult the king’s character right to his face.

In this parable, we see the king generously rewarding the servants who make an effort to please him. The first and second servants each receive a hearty ‘Well done!’ even though they bring in vastly different profits. The king doesn’t mock the second servant for not doing as well as the first. We each have different abilities, and we’re not all cut out to govern ten cities. For some of us, five is the max we can handle. This king rewards his servants differently not as a criticism, but as an acknowledgment of their differing abilities. In the same way, God isn’t going to look down on you for not launching some worldwide ministry when He knows that’s just not within the scope of your abilities. He is only going to care about how you responded to His instructions. When the king in this story first gave his servants money, he told them to invest it during his absence. Each servant was given a specific task to do, and each was then judged by his response to that task. In the same way, God wants you to wait for Him to give you some kind of task in life, and when He does, He wants you to respond with eager obedience. He doesn’t want you running out ahead of Him making busy work for yourself. He doesn’t want you choosing out your own assignments and then demanding that He bless projects that He never authorized.

No matter who you are or what your limitations are, God makes it possible for you to fantastically please Him in life. God does not pit us against each other in some impossible competition, but instead He leads us each on our own journey with Him. Since it is our soul response and not our physical abilities that He judges us by, it’s an even playing field. The man who is chronically ill and unable to even get out of bed can please God every bit as much as the world traveling evangelist simply by the way his soul responds to God. “Lord, make me all that You want me to be. Have Your total way in my life. Help me grow in my love for You. Change my dreams and desires to be in alignment with Yours.” Anyone can pray these kinds of prayers regardless of what their earthly circumstances are. These are the kinds of prayers that greatly please God and earn us a hearty “Well done!” on the other side. God wants us to sincerely care about pleasing Him—it’s just that simple. And He’s so generous, that if we don’t honestly care much about pleasing Him today, all we have to do is ask for His help, and He’ll develop a love for Him within our hearts. It is because God is so incredibly generous and willing to help us that there is no excuse for defying Him.

So what happened to the twerps in this parable? Well, snarky servant has his stuff ripped away from him.   This is a major demotion. Then all those snarky citizens who have been griping about the king behind his back get hauled in and executed there on the spot. The execution is a metaphor for eternal damnation. If we refuse to submit to Jesus’ Authority while we are on this earth, we are going to end up in Hell.

Notice how in the parable, the Jesus character leaves for a while, then returns to dish out judgment. Right now in Israel, Jesus knows the Jews aren’t accepting His Divinity yet. The ones who like Him are just viewing Him as the long awaited Messiah. He’s definitely got clout, but not God clout. Well, that’s how they view Him now, but one day soon they’ll be facing Him again as their King and called to account for the way they have responded to Him. The griping citizens in this parable are like the Jews who hate Jesus and are rejecting Him as any kind of authority Figure in their lives. Notice how they try to block the nobleman from getting promoted. In the same way, Jesus knows the idiot Pharisees and Sadducees actually think they can block Yahweh’s plans from going forth if they murder Jesus. Well, no they can’t, and they’re going to pay dearly for their willful defiance.

LOOKING AHEAD

Bethany is Jesus’ next stop on His way to Jerusalem. Bethany is where He resurrected Lazarus. He’s getting very close to that infamous capital city now, and meanwhile the annual celebration of the Passover is kicking off. Jews from all over Israel are streaming to the Temple to do purification rituals before the grand feast day.

They kept looking for Jesus, but as they stood around in the Temple, they said to each other, “What do you think? He won’t come for Passover, will He?” Meanwhile, the leading priests and Pharisees had publicly ordered that anyone seeing Jesus must report it immediately so they could arrest Him. (Jn. 11:56-57)

Murder is in the air. It’s just a few days before the Passover when Jesus arrives at the home of a man named Simon. As He reclines at the dinner table with His buddy Lazarus, Lazarus’ sister Mary brings over an alabaster vial containing very expensive perfume, breaks it, and pours it onto Jesus. Matthew and Mark say she pours it on Jesus’ head. John says she pours it on His feet. Either way, Jesus gets doused in the stuff, and in this culture, Mary is paying Him a very high compliment.

Ever try to do something really special for God that maybe looks a little odd to others only to have those others criticize what you’re doing? While Mary is planting soul kisses all over Jesus by making Him all nice and perfumed, Jesus’ disciples start beefing about how she’s wasting valuable resources. Now that’s classy. So what does Jesus do? Is He going to come to Mary’s defense when the men start publicly scolding her? Of course He is. Jesus thinks Mary’s gift is fabulous.

UP NEXT: Know Your Bible Lesson 61: The Triumphal Entry

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