Lent Week 5

This is the fifth week of Lent and we’re going to focus on the passage in John 12 where Mary washes Jesus’ feet with expensive perfume. I’ve included Psalm 126 as supplemental reading for the week. I like how it seems to reflect some of what is happening in the John text as well.

Psalms 126:0–6
“A Song of Ascents.
When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion,
we were like those who dream.
Then our mouth was filled with laughter,
and our tongue with shouts of joy;
then it was said among the nations,
“The LORD has done great things for them.”
The LORD has done great things for us,
and we rejoiced.

Restore our fortunes, O LORD,
like the watercourses in the Negeb.
May those who sow in tears
reap with shouts of joy.
Those who go out weeping,
bearing the seed for sowing,
shall come home with shouts of joy,
carrying their sheaves.”

John 12:1–8
“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. 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. 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.) 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.”


  • Do you see any connections between these two passages?
  • Have you experienced a time when God turned tears of sorrow into shouts of joy? How did you respond to this experience? How did others respond?
  • What do you think is significant about Mary’s act?
  • Have you ever felt (or responded) like Judas does in this passage? Why do you think he was so upset? What do you think the significance is of the way Jesus responds to Judas about Mary?


  1. i really liked how mary celebrated the moment in this passage. i often miss things because i’m so preoccupied with getting to the next thing. it is so important to celebrate life and events as they happen. it’s important to be truly present – a good reminder for me.

  2. I tend to focus on the last part of this passage (Judas and the poor) but you’re absolutely right Jason, it is all about living into that moment and taking it for what it is. Jesus is arrested shortly after this.

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