John Bible Study - 3/31

Journey Through John - Day 24

By Jamie George, April 01, 2020

Day 24 - Tuesday, March 31

The Grace of Hospitality

DAILY READING - Jn 11:55-12:11

Today in our reading, we enter a third mention of the Jewish Passover. The Fourth Gospel mentions Passovers and festivals as a way of marking time. Jesus spent almost three years in public ministry and we know this because of the way John marks time in his Gospel.

Jesus traveled to Bethany and a dinner was given in his honor. Not surprising since he was a close friend of this family and he just resurrected Lazarus from the dead. Martha, Lazarus’ sister, prepared the meal while Mary sat at Jesus’ feet.

Read Luke 10:38-42.

1- In Luke’s account, why is Martha upset?

2- What is Jesus’ response to Martha?

In Luke’s account, Martha was upset because she was doing all of the work. I imagine she was taking the power of hospitality to an infinite degree going above and beyond what was necessary. Have you ever done that? I remember hosting my oldest daughter’s third birthday party, whereby I made enough macaroni and cheese to feed an army. I mean, I made four 13x9 pans of macaroni and cheese for three little girls and their parents. Three-year-olds don’t eat that much. But, I felt the need to break my neck making four casserole dishes full of food. Why? I am still not sure what happened. But, I do remember feeling like I needed to host a party that rivaled the kind my friends were giving their kids. I needed to keep up with the other cool kids. And, my daughter would only turn three once. I thought she needed a grand soiree so she would always remember how much she was loved. So two things stand out as lessons for me:

  1. Stop comparing yourself to others.
  2. Focus on what is really important.

I thought my daughter should have a magical party. She was three. She doesn’t remember the party at all. Even when I pull out the pictures to prove my performance materialized magic on her behalf, she has no recollection of my work. She does, however, remember playing with her friends.

I think Martha was trying to materialize a magic hospitality that would honor Jesus. Jesus told Martha that she was too worried about things. As Mary sat at Jesus’ feet, she honored him more. Hospitality at Jesus’ feet was more important than the things Martha worried about.

What does this tell us about hospitality?

Some speculation surrounds this perfume dousing event. If we assume that Luke told the same story in 7:36-38 of his Gospel than Mary was a sinful woman. Some say she was a prostitute. Regardless of what her sins were, she was forgiven. The grace she received from Jesus led her to sit at his feet. Mary sat at Jesus’ feet to serve and honor him in the humblest way. She received grace that saved her life. How could she ever repay Jesus for the lavish gift of life saving grace? She gave what she had, a large jar of perfumed oil. Because she had been given much, she gave much. This is the truest form of hospitality.

Think about your own approach to hospitality. If hospitality is a response to grace, we must consider the grace we’ve been given.

How has Jesus lavished the gift of life saving grace upon you?

What have you been forgiven for?

Grace is poured out in hospitality. Hospitality begins with an openness to others and their need for grace. Perhaps, because you have been given much grace, you pour out generously with others. The abundance of grace that you have been given overflows and is shared with others. Think about someone that you know who embodies openness to others.

How would you describe them?

Do you tend to approach people with openness?

Or, do you tend to approach people in a critical nature first?

When we are critical of others, it is a clear indication that we are not receiving the grace Jesus offers. Mary lavishly pours out a very expensive gift onto the feet of Jesus. She knows it is just material. She also knows that Jesus provides abundantly. And, she counts the cost as nothing in comparison to what Jesus has done for her. Judas, on the other hand, is quite critical.

What is his response?

Judas, a disciple, had other motivations on his mind. What were they and how do they inhibit grace?

We have two different models for grace and hospitality in this story. Mary overflows with the grace that she has been given. She is confident in Christ and all that Christ gives. Judas hoards money. Judas is offered grace, like all of us. Judas hoards because he does not accept the grace that he has been given. He’s scared that he will not have “enough”. His fear led him to block the flow of grace in his life. Mary offers grace. Judas offers criticism.

Think about the flow of grace in your own life. Are you hoarding something in fear, believing that the grace of Christ is not enough?

What is blocking your reception of the grace of Christ?

What is blocking your sharing the grace of Christ that you have been given?

End this time by asking Jesus to reveal the lavish grace you’ve been given and the ability to receive it. Pray that His grace would be poured into you in copious amounts so that you, in turn, could pour out that grace that you’ve been given.