The events of Holy Week bridge time in a way that no other specific part of the church year does. We live in past, present and future.
We are there and we are here.
Jesus was there and Jesus is here.
This story in John is remarkable.
Jesus is sitting at the table with Lazarus, who days before was dead. And now is at the table - eating and drinking. There is no doubt that Lazarus is fully alive. What does he see when he looks around the room? Is the Jesus sitting here, across the table, different than the Jesus that had the last word over death, calling out to him “Lazarus, come out!”? Lazarus is back in the home he shares with his sisters. Still trying to wrap his head around what happened.
Lazarus' sister. Days before it was Martha who had proclaimed that Jesus is the resurrection and the life. She knew. She had faith before there was proof. And now here sits Lazarus - living proof! Proof that Jesus gives life - not just restoring breath and a heartbeat. Jesus gives life. Relationships that were severed are joined again. There is a renewed pleasure in the joy of sharing meals and conversation with friends.
Jesus reconciles us back to life - the good life: relationships, hope, peace in God.
In a moment of complete vulnerability Mary does the unthinkable. She breaks the boundaries - of men and women, living and dead - and anoints Jesus' feet. It wasn’t a gesture of hospitality. It was an act of preparation. Maybe it was the same oil and spices she put on her brother's dead body only days before - preparing him for burial. The oil with the herbs and spices has a strong scent to cover up the stench of decay.
But Jesus was not dead. Jesus was in their home as he was many times before. In fact, Mary was at his feet, where she has sat many times before. But what was different this time?
Mary heard Jesus teach, teach about how the last would be first. How the powerless would have their day. Sitting at those same feet she heard Jesus turn all they knew upside down.
She had seen Jesus perform many signs. But maybe it was that last one, the one with her brother Lazarus, that Mary knew had finally crossed the line for those in power.
Mary needed to care for Jesus now. Jesus needed to be tended to now. And so because he was the one – the one who would turn everything upside down – it made sense to anoint him not in death but while he was still living.
And then there was the scent. Mary opened up the jar of perfume and the scent filled the room. They all breathed it in. The scent that accompanies death. The scent that is reserved for grief. Everyone watched as Mary anointed the living – preparing not only Jesus – but everyone else for whatever will come next. They do not know it yet, but that scent will never be the same. In just a few days time even that scent will be transformed from death into life.
And so for us this week:
We are like Lazarus trying to wrap our heads around the fact that death is not the end. It does not have the last word.
We are like Martha professing that Jesus is the living Word with no proof in front of us - just faith.
We are like Mary. Preparing for the event that turns everything upside down.
Preparing for it, yet already living it.
Because we are living in both now and then. We long for reconciliation of our relationships. We long for God’s presence in our lives. And yet, we are already have those things. We know the joy of the good life that Jesus brings.
Not unlike Lazarus, Martha and Mary, we also share a meal with Jesus and prepare ourselves for the event that turns everything upside down.
The event that gives life - not later, not after death but now.
Jesus is the resurrection and the life.