March 13, 2016 Bible lesson - John 12:1-8

Can I get a little love?

That’s the phrase that came to mind as I read today’s Gospel lesson. 

You know,…the world is often a tough place to be.

In just normal circumstances most people work hard all day and seldom get complimented or appreciated the way they ought to.

Everyone likes to be told;… ‘hey, we’re grateful for what you’re doing’.

And sometimes we do get that from other people,….in official forms (like from bosses in annual evaluations),….and occasionally we may hear it from friends or family.

But way too often that kind of thing is lacking and we just say to ourselves;…‘Can I get a little love here?’ - maybe just a smile or hug?

And yet, when we do get a little love like that,…it feels real good!

In fact, even more than money, ‘a little love’ can make all the work and effort and even the hardship and trouble,….. worthwhile to us.

Especially when you’ve done something that involves a lot of sacrifice or even causes you some trouble or hardship;… helps an awful lot.

So as I read today’s Gospel, It seemed to me like every Sunday we hear another story where Jesus is putting himself out for people.

He is teaching them,….. or healing them,…. or making promises that he’ll gain them forgiveness and life instead of death.

It’s like the worker who puts in a hard days work and even gives more than expected,…110% as they say,…. and for what???

We almost never hear stories about Jesus getting ‘a little love’ for all that he does.

But in this story we heard today,…. that’s not the case.

In this story,…,… Jesus gets ‘a little love’.

He is at supper with friends and some of his disciples,…when a woman begins to bath his feet with expensive ointment.

It was so potent that its fragrance filled the air of the whole place.

Now you have to remember what it was like living back then in the dirty heat of the middle east.

People did not bath all the time like we do today;….they did not have deodorant like us,…nor did they change clothes as often.

It was a hot and filthy world with probably a lot of unpleasant smells.

So it was sometimes customary for hosts to anoint their guest’s head with some nice perfume or fragrant oil.

But in this instance,….Jesus has his feet anointed by the woman!

If that sounds a little sensuous to you,… remember that, unlike today feet were pretty much the equivalent to our shoes or boots.

They were not these protected, gentle and sensitive things we have.

They were subject to the rigors of the hot middle eastern terrain.

So this was an extra special act of kindness that Jesus received.

Add to that, the woman’s very personal touch of using her hair to wipe the excess upon his feet,….and you’ve got a total expression of love.

Not in a romantic way, but in a very meaningful way that shows Jesus he is cared about and appreciated.

And you can be sure that Jesus,…. the same Jesus who never really asked for such special treatment,…really liked it.

In that way,…he’s no different from the rest of us!

Isn’t that something all of us really want and need???

Don’t we all have this desire and deep urge to be cared about and appreciated and to be shown that from time to time?

In the church it seems we always talk about the need for us to love God and neighbor;… which of course, is what Jesus directed us to do.

But at the same time,…. it’s also good for us to get ‘a little love’ now and then throughout life’s daily struggles.

In fact,…when we are shown ‘a little love’,…. it makes it that much easier for us to go and love God and others.

So that when we’re shown ‘a little love’,… its a win - win for God because both we and those we come in contact with, will benefit.

It’s too bad there isn’t a vending machine we can stop off on our way home and get a shot of that cared for and appreciated feeling.

But alas, there is no such machine or place that offers those things.

Instead, the world too often withholds,…even just ‘a little love’.

The reasons for that are many and varied.

Too many people don’t like to express their feelings.

We hide our true selves and refuse to show ‘a little love’ for those we care about,….even though we like to be shown that ourselves.

Another reason ‘a little love’ isn’t shown,….is we’re too busy.

Even if we’re inclined to show someone that we appreciate them, we get too caught up in our own lives to do so.

We forget or don’t prioritize it,… and then the moment slips past.

Maybe the worst example of why we don’t show ‘a little love’ is mentioned in today’s bible story.

There, we hear one of Jesus’ disciples, Judas Iscariot, object to the fine perfumed ointment being wasted as it was poured onto his feet.

It says that he objected because he wanted to steal the money that selling the ointment could yield if it was sold.

But even if selling it helped get money for the poor,…. aren’t there times when ‘a little love’ is needed more than being practical?

Jesus said so, when he retorted that “you’ll always have the poor”.

Isn’t pausing to show ‘a little love’ sometimes more important than our super obsession to efficiently accomplish things?

Jesus thinks so because, at this moment in his journey,….when he is resting his weary load of doing for others and giving,….he accepts and embraces this ‘little bit of love’.

He accepts it because he needs it but also because the person giving it to him wants and needs to do this for him.

She needs to show Jesus how much he is cared for, and so He, in effect, does for her as he graciously accepts the act of kindness.

But he also accepts this ‘little love’ because soon after this, he’s going back to work.

He’s going back on the road again,…and his job is going to get a whole lot tougher than it already has been.

That’s because he is now headed into Jerusalem,….where he is going to the cross to be crucified.

Those painful and dirty feet of his that are now anointed and treated so kindly,… will be nailed to a tree along with his hands.

And when that happens,….maybe he will at some point recall this moment and take a little bit of comfort in what it meant to him.

Maybe he’ll be reminded of how his work on the cross will bring to us,…more than just ‘a little bit of love’ from God.

That his sacrifice gains us the forgiveness of our selfish sinful ways and our failure to show ‘a little love’ in our lives.

So when the world is too practical or too busy or just won’t give you ‘a little love’,…God in Christ will.

Love us when we are tired and weak and weary,… and when we are down on our luck,.. or just down on ourselves.

As we remember this story after we leave here today,…. look for  opportunities to show others ‘a little love’. 

To tell them we care,….to show they are appreciated; just to lift them when they’re low, or forgive them when they’re wrong.

It’ll be good for them,….good for us,….good for God.

Good for the God who came as a dirty-footed prophet and gave all that he has to gives all of us,….

not just a little bit of love,,…but a whole lotta love.