Digging Through All The Layers In One Passage Of Scripture

If you’ve read the Bible for any length of time, you’re probably familiar with the big stories found among its pages. If asked, you could tell the stories of Eden, Moses, Joseph, David, Jonah and Jesus’ parables. They come to our minds easily because we’ve read them, heard preaching about them and maybe even taught them.

But how often do you take the time to study and dig deeper, go beyond the kindergarten version with coloring pages and find the layers of treasures underneath?

Here’s what I mean, using the well-known passages about Mary breaking the alabaster box and anointing Jesus’ feet.

Then Jesus six days before the passover came to Bethany, where Lazarus was which had been dead, whom he raised from the dead. There they made him a supper; and Martha served: but Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with him. Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment. Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon's son, which should betray him, Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor? This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein. Then said Jesus, Let her alone: against the day of my burying hath she kept this. For the poor always ye have with you; but me ye have not always. Much people of the Jews therefore knew that he was there: and they came not for Jesus' sake only, but that they might see Lazarus also, whom he had raised from the dead. But the chief priests consulted that they might put Lazarus also to death; Because that by reason of him many of the Jews went away, and believed on Jesus. John 12:1-11

This is just 11 verses of Scripture, but there are just as many layers of stories in here as there are verses.

Layer 1. The basic story that we probably learned as children. Mary anoints Jesus’ feet and wipes them dry with her hair. He praises her for her sacrifice and says she will be remembered forever.

Layer 2. Foot washing has special meaning in Bible times. Everyone wore sandals, and it was the job of the servants to clean the guests feet before the meal. They would be reclined at the meal, head to foot, so freshly washed feet would be super important.

Layer 3. Essential oils aren’t a new-age trend to make things smell good. They’ve been around for thousands of years, and they can be found throughout the Bible. Mary’s choice of spikenard is purposeful, as it would have been used for seasoning food, preparing bodies for burial, medicinal purposes and as perfume.

Layer 4. Imagine what this reunion must have been like for Jesus and Lazarus. Jesus would have been the only person who would understand what Lazarus had seen in heaven for those few days. The conversation they had and the rejoicing over what was to come in the future must have been incredible.

Layer 5. Jesus knew this would be the last opportunity to see Lazarus, Mary and Martha at their home, so it became a farewell visit with special friends.

Layer 6. We really get to see Judas’ obsession with money in these verses. He wasn’t just wagging his finger at Mary for wasting money - he was showing his true colors about how important having control of money was.

Layer 7. Mary’s heart was completely turned over for her Lord, so reserving this expensive spikenard was purposeful. She may not have understood that He was going to die soon, but she did reserve the very best she had for this special moment.

Layer 8. The people weren’t necessarily coming just to see Jesus. They had no doubt heard about Lazarus being raised from the dead, so who wouldn’t jump at the chance to see him and his Resurrector in the same place.

Layer 9. The chief priests walked away from this encounter with a plan to kill Lazarus. Really? He has already died once, and Jesus brought him back to life. What made them think they could kill Lazarus and keep him dead? Seriously.

What other layers did you discover as you read through these verses?

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