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Mary Honors Jesus

Imagine (K-1)Year 2Unit 3 (Imagine Seeing Jesus Do Great Things)Session 5

Mary Honors Jesus

Mary honored Jesus by giving him a beautiful gift.
Faith Nurture Goals
  • Imagine Mary honoring Jesus.
  • Sense that Jesus is pleased when we honor him.
  • Honor Jesus.
Memory Challenge

Leader Reflection

Preparing to Tell God's Story

It's the beginning of a week of festivities that will culminate in the great Passover celebration---the greatest Passover of all, when Christ, the true Passover Lamb, will die for the sins of the world. Jesus and his disciples first arrived in the vicinity of Jerusalem and then went to Bethany, a small town nearby. Here their good friends Mary, Martha, and Lazarus lived.

To honor Jesus they decided to give a big dinner party. Everyone gathered in the courtyard where they set up tables and benches and Jesus and his disciples mingled with the guests. Other villagers probably gathered around to look in from outside. They wanted to see Jesus and Lazarus (recently raised from the dead and the subject of a lot of publicity) and hear what might be said around the table. Lazarus sat (or more likely reclined) at a table with the guests. Martha was serving---her customary role, while Mary decides to offer an unusual gesture in honor of Jesus.

It was not unheard of to honor a special guest by pouring a few drops of a fragrant ointment on his or her head. But Mary took a full pound of a very expensive ointment called nard, and poured the contents over Jesus' feet. Then she knelt to wipe his feet with her hair, a sign of deep devotion and respect.

The guests must have gaped in amazement, but Judas Iscariot, proving himself a scoundrel interested in money, stood up to object. His objection sounds good: "Why wasn't this perfume sold and the money given to the poor?" He also noted its tremendous expense---a year's wages. The gospel writer doesn't want us taken in by Judas, telling us that he only did this out of his own greed, not concern for the poor. (This is, by the way, the most information we are given in the gospels as to what kind of man Judas was.)

Jesus' reply is fascinating and puzzling. "Leave her alone." Is there anger at Judas behind this abrupt command? "It was intended . . . for the day of my burial." Was Mary the only one who really listened to Jesus as he constantly told his unbelieving disciples of his impending death? It fits her character as one who truly listens to Jesus (Luke 10:39).

Jesus continued, "You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me." Of course, Jesus is not denigrating the poor, or despising our efforts to help them. He is saying that the duty to help the poor (one deeply embedded in Jewish consciousness) will always be there, and it's a duty we must pay attention to. But Mary's deed of love and devotion is a one-time act of the heart. It's wrong to lump together the continuing duty and the single act, and it's rude besides.

The house was filled with the fragrance. The next thing we know, a crowd gathered to see what was going on, and the religious leaders are determined to have Jesus killed, as though Mary's act was a prophesy.

  • How would you characterize the kind of relationship Jesus had with this family, Mary, Martha, and Lazarus?

  • How did the people feel when they watched Mary do this extraordinary thing?

  • How do you think the other guests reacted to Judas’ suggestion?

  • This lesson is about devotion to Jesus. Perhaps children have this kind of experience when Father’s or Mother’s Day comes around and they want to give something special to Mom or Dad. It’s that heartfelt devotion that Mary felt toward Jesus.


Step 1 Gathering for God's Story

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