Be Happy for Her! (John 12–Mary and Martha)

A very happy and surprised woman pointing to copy-space. Isolated on white.
A very happy and surprised woman pointing to copy-space. Isolated on white.

In John 12 we read the account of Mary anointing Jesus just before the Triumphal Entry. After recording Jesus’ response to those complaining about her extravagant gift, John wrote something interesting. “So the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus as well (John 12:10).” How did we jump from Mary anointing Jesus to the chief priests planning to murder her brother in the matter of a sentence? Here’s where we will need a little context.

If we glance at the previous chapter (John 11) we will see a chapter heading like this: “Jesus Raises Lazarus from the Dead.” We don’t know the exact amount of time between Jesus raising Mary’s brother from the dead and her anointing Jesus, however, because of their close proximity in John’s narrative we may assume that they were closely related. Mary was so overwhelmed with thankfulness that she gave what she had in grateful response.

Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead went far beyond the blessing that it was to Mary and Martha and this didn’t sit well with the chief priests. According to John 12:11, “for on account of him (Lazarus) many of the Jews were going over to Jesus and putting their faith in Him.” Why would the chief priests care? They could literally feel their power over the people slipping away.

The chief priests were so obsessed with keeping their influence over the Jewish people that they had lost grip on reality. “’What are we accomplishing?’ they asked. ‘If we let Him go on like this, everyone will believe in Him, and then the Romans will come and take away our place and our nation (John 11:48).’” They plotted to kill both Lazarus and Jesus.

Let’s step back for just a minute. This whole murder plot started because Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, proving that He had absolute authority over death. So the priests decided to punish Him with…wait for it…death. Am I the only one that finds that more than a little ironic (and just a tad hilarious)? People are funny, you guys!

This story gives us two perpendicular responses to the work of God in the lives of people. One was by Mary, Martha and Lazarus. They told people all about it! Mary anointed Lazarus at a public dinner that the family was hosting with Jesus. Every work of God is an opportunity for us to share Jesus with others, and like this family, when we share the life-changing work of the Savior in our own life story, people will respond!

Our other choice is to worry that another person’s blessing is a threat to us. Do we worry that the newest member of our praise team might get a solo we wanted? Are we concerned that the hip, young church plant down the street will steal our members away? Is another Sunday School teacher more popular than we are? If we do, we will miss out on what really matters- Jesus!

We don’t have to stand it when feelings of jealousy and fear knock on the doors of our minds. Second Timothy 1:7 reminds us, “God has not given you a spirit of fear, but of power, of love and a sound mind.” Rather than begrudging God’s work in the lives of others, we should rejoice in it with them and help share the good news!

(For those who have missed any of the previous lessons, you can go to and view all previous postings.)

Week Forty

Day 1: John 12:1-11 (Mary and Martha)
Day 2: John 17:20-26 (Jesus Prays for Us)
Day 3: John 18:1-25 (Peter and the Servant Girl)
Day 4: John 19:17-37 (Women at Jesus’ Death)
Day 5: John 20:1-18 (Mary Magdalene)