Holy Week – Monday : The Epistle, Psalm, and Gospel Passages – Tensions are mounting and rationales are revealed

But when Christ came as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation), he entered once for all into the Holy Place, not with the blood of goats and calves, but with his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption. For if the blood of goats and bulls, with the sprinkling of the ashes of a heifer, sanctifies those who have been defiled so that their flesh is purified, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to worship the living God! For this reason he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, because a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions under the first covenant.” (Hebrews 9:11-15)

Monday of Holy Week. While the disciples may not have seen it or understand it, Jesus’ ministry was coming to a close. The time was drawing when one aspect of Jesus’ purpose for coming to humanity would be fulfilled. I say one aspect because Jesus was not sent for one purpose but many purposes and reasons – enough to satisfy all of humanity for all time. The Lord God, however, had only one umbrella reason for sending the Divine Son.

Your steadfast love, O LORD, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds.
Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your judgments are like the great deep; you save humans and animals alike, O LORD.
How precious is your steadfast love, O God! All people may take refuge in the shadow of your wings.
They feast on the abundance of your house, and you give them drink from the river of your delights.
For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light.
O continue your steadfast love to those who know you, and your salvation to the upright of heart!
Do not let the foot of the arrogant tread on me, or the hand of the wicked drive me away.” (Psalm 36:5-11)

Love of humanity, and love for humanity was a trait the Messiah Jesus and the Lord God shared. And according to the gospel of John, there was something among several things that Jesus wished to do.

Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him.” (John 12:1- 2)

Let me say, beloved reader, that the gospels place events in Jesus’ life in different order. The priorities that Jesus had remained unchanged in their differing accounts, but the sequence of events get shuffled around. Therefore . . .

Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.” (Verse 3)

An outpouring of love for the teacher who brought her brother back to life? A portent of what was to come? Whatever the reason, it was an extravagant offering.

“But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?”(He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.) (Verses 4 – 6)

The writer of the gospel of John did not have much respect for Judas. And Judas properly did not have much respect for some of the disciples. And probably not much respect for Mary either. Biblical commentators and theologians have varying ideas of Judas’ motivation – so more sympathetic and generous than others. We also might have varying ideas about Judas. But let me reminder you, beloved reader, Jesus loved Judas as much as any of the other disciples and the people who followed Jesus.

“Jesus said, “Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.” (Verses 7 – 8)

I would like to be able to pause here and think about Jesus’ statement concerning the poor and Jesus’ presence on earth. And maybe at some point we can. But I am conscious of the fact that we have a ways to go, and much ground to cover. And those who have plotted and planned against Jesus are advancing their plans.

“When the great crowd of the Jews learned that he was there, they came not only because of Jesus but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. So the chief priests planned to put Lazarus to death as well, since it was on account of him that many of the Jews were deserting and were believing in Jesus.” (Verses 9 – 11)

Monday. It is not just Jesus who is in danger, but those who believe in him also. It is shaping up to be a tense week.