Wasting our life on God – a reflection for Holy Week

The Centre for Theology & Community l and tagged l

IMG_4481Theo Shaw, who co-ordinates our Church Credit Champions Network in Southwark, blogs for us on John 12: 1-11…

As we journey through the most sacred week in the Christian calendar, we as Christians are encouraged to go through various emotions. It’s a week filled with a range of feelings, as we move from the adulation of Palm Sunday to the desolation of Good Friday and onto the joy of Easter.

One of the reasons I love Holy Week is that it takes us on a journey and we are encouraged to go on this journey in the various services we attend in our various churches. I particularly love the hymns during this season, so to begin our staff Bible study this week, we listened to the hymn ‘When I survey the Wondrous Cross’ by Isaac Watts, before reading our Gospel passage from John 12: 1-11.

When reading this passage there are so many things that come to mind. Can you imagine the conversation at the table, with Lazarus having been resurrected? Can you imagine the questions he may have been asked? I wonder what questions we might like to ask him, or anyone at that table…

I think about what might be in this passage for us to take away on our journey of Holy Week. I read a chapter in a book by the Chinese preacher Waterman Nee called the Normal Christian Life. The chapter was titled The Goal of the Gospel. It makes the point that this passage calls us to ‘waste our life on God.’ This is something which Mary demonstrated in her act of ultimate devotion. In the hymn, the words of the first verse say, “When I survey the wondrous cross on which the Prince of glory died, my richest gain I count but loss, and pour contempt on all my pride.”


Now, although Christ wasn’t dead yet, the Spikenard (perfume) that Mary ‘wasted’ on Him, was possibly her ‘richest gain’ that she was happy to ‘waste.’ Presumably Mary, Martha and Lazarus were from relatively humble backgrounds, as the reading tells us that Martha was also serving the guests at this table. So, perhaps the Spikenard was something passed on from generation to generation, as it was clearly worth a lot of money, or perhaps it was something which Mary had purchased at great cost. I wonder what our ‘richest gain’ is that we would be prepared to ‘waste’ on Jesus?

This is also not the first time that Mary has been at the foot of Christ. Luke’s Gospel tells of when Jesus visited and Martha opened her home to Jesus and His disciples. Whilst Martha was too busy trying to ensure that everything was perfect, Mary was sitting at the Lord’s feet, listening. When Martha was overwhelmed with her work and plan to get ‘things right,’ she complained and asked Jesus, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” But His response was, “You are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Like Martha, God is also calling us to stop and just adore him. It’s easy sometimes to become overwhelmed with things to do and even in trying to please God, when less could well be more…

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