Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings: 2 Chronicles 13-14; John 12:1-26
Six days before Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, home of Lazarus, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2 Lazarus and his sisters hosted a dinner for him. Martha served and Lazarus was among those who joined him at the table. 3 Then Mary took an extraordinary amount, almost three-quarters of a pound, of very expensive perfume made of pure nard. She anointed Jesus’ feet with it, then wiped his feet dry with her hair. The house was filled with the aroma of the perfume. 4 Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), complained, 5 “This perfume was worth a year’s wages! Why wasn’t it sold and the money given to the poor?” (6 He said this not because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief. He carried the money bag and would take what was in it.)
7 Then Jesus said, “Leave her alone. This perfume was to be used in preparation for my burial, and this is how she has used it. 8 You will always have the poor among you, but you won’t always have me.”
9 Many 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. 10 The chief priests decided that they would kill Lazarus too. 11 It was because of Lazarus that many of the Jews had deserted them and come to believe in Jesus. (John 12:1-11, Common English Bible)
In today’s lesson, not only had the Pharisees and the keepers of the law decided to kill Jesus, now the lesson teaches us, they were ready to kill Lazarus too. Why? Because he had been dead once and Jesus brought him back to life and he was getting more attention than the Pharisees liked.
Does anyone see the irony (and I don’t mean humor) in all this besides me? Here are the Pharisees and the keepers of the LAW, the people who are supposed to know more about what the law says than anyone else in their society and they stood ready to break the law they were so determined everyone else must uphold. Think about this for a minute. These were the people who carried around the big 10, the ones God gave Moses on the mountain. That would include the one that said, “Thou Shalt Not Kill.” But they would also be violating one (or more) of the over 600 commandments the Pharisees and keepers of the law sought to enforce on all society. Which specifically were they guilty of breaking here. None other than the one they agreed with Jesus was most important, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength and love your neighbor as yourself.” I would argue it is not possible to love your neighbor if you are, at the same time, plotting to kill your neighbor. You cannot claim to love God when you are actively trying to kill God. While the Pharisees refused to accept Jesus as God, there still is the whole neighbor things too.
Through the centuries Christian religious martyrs have been killed senselessly. From Stephen in the book of Acts to the disciples and several early popes. From Thomas Beckett and Joan of Arc to Thomas More and Thomas Beckett.
We also should remember the victims of the Salem Witch Trials and the victims of gunslingers from the old west.
In World War II alone, not counting the soldiers, sailors, and marines on both sides who died, there were six million Jews in Germany and more people than that in Russia. There were also those like Dietrich Bonhoeffer who died for doing what he believed to be right.
We can quickly see the senseless tragedy and the cheapness of life when we look at events like the My Lai Massacre and the work of the Khmer Rouge regime’s genocide in Cambodia.
Today we are bothered by senseless killing and rightly so. It takes shape in many forms and looks scary and can make the acids in our stomachs churn, often at just the thought.
Many people are killed while doing nothing more than going to work when a maniac decides to fly an airplane into the side of a building, killing all onboard and many, many more inside the building.
A person is gunned down on the street because they wore the wrong color sweatshirt or someone wanted to steal their tennis shoes that carry the name of some famous athlete and because of the name cost at least twice as much as they really should.
A person is killed because they happen to be of the wrong ethnic group or the wrong socio-economic group.
Another person is killed because of greed that is rooted in a drug culture society said it was going to do away with fifty years ago or more. It is still alive and well and people are still dying to fill the greed of others.
People are killed in some American cities during the “celebration” following the hometown team’s victory in the championship game.
Then there is the senseless tragedy that happened at Santa Fe High School almost two weeks ago when one student walked into the school armed with a shotgun and pistol and killed eight other students and two teachers. Still, in truth, it fits here too.
It all seems so senseless. Without question, when we look at the plot to kill Jesus and to kill Lazarus, life was cheap in the Biblical era. Unfortunately, it still is.
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on us, sinners one and all.
Have a blessed day in the Lord.
Praying for Mercy,
Copyright 2018, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved