But, there is one passage in John 12 that I believe may be overlooked with a cursory reading of this wonderful chapter. That passage is John 12:2-3 wherein the three friends of Jesus are all spoken of doing something.
Martha often gets a "bad rap" because she was up working instead of spending time with Jesus, Lazarus might be discussed as someone who is in shock given his recent reentry into the physical world after some four days of eternal bliss and Mary is often the one who receives the praise because, after all, she was the one that spent an extraordinary amount of money in order to praise her Savior and Lord.
Just for a moment, let's look deeper into those three characters that we have often read about but probably have not discussed in depth in light of their actions within John 12.
Martha, although she is rebuked earlier for her not understanding that her sister was right in what she was doing (Luke 10:38-42), is a perfect example of a worker! In both occasions, Luke 10 and John 12, she is shown to be slaving hard over a hot stove, as it were, serving the disciples and the Lord Jesus Christ.
How many of us would be willing to be a servant in that situation? Serving tables while the Messiah is feet away teaching or relaxing before His crucifixion. It just goes to show you that those willing to work in benevolent ways like feeding the hungry, as all Christians ought to be, ought to be ones that are willing to work regardless of the circumstances!
Although we wish we could, we do not have the ability to sit down to a meal with Jesus and discuss the funny or discouraging things that happened throughout our day. While we dine with Him in the Lord's Supper, remembering His death, we don't have the blessing of being with Him personally.
But, we do have the ability to sit with Him through diligent study of the Scriptures (2 Timothy 2:15)! When we sit down to the table with an open Bible and an open mind and search the Scriptures (Acts 17:11) we are doing what Lazarus was doing. The question is, have you taken some time away from service to others to commune with the Lord in this way lately?
She took a costly oil, one that she had undoubtedly saved for or sacrificed to buy, and used it to show her devotion to Jesus. She could have easily been doing something else or spent that money on something which to the carnally minded would seem more beneficial but she didn't. She understood that praise and servitude toward Christ means sacrifice!
Have you sacrificed anything lately to praise and serve the Master? If not, why not? What in your life is holding you back from denying self and serving the Savior?
Regardless of which friend of Jesus you look to in this passage you will find an example of someone who was living out the faith in a great way. By serving others, serving Christ and being served by Him we show ourselves like their example and are, in fact, friends of Jesus.