Possible tensions during lockdown: the veiled offence.
John 12 v1-8 Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2 Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honour. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. 3 Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. 4 But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, 5 “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” 6 He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it. 7 “Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. “It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. 8 You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.”
It is just 6 days before the Passover, it is close now to the reason why Jesus came and the tension of this incredible story is building. This is a difficult season with what seems the whole of the Jewish world against Jesus. He is followed everywhere. For some time now every word has been scrutinised and every action questioned.
There are times when the followers of Jesus should stay together and this is that time!
However what seems to happen is that the tension of the context pushes emotions to the surface and though we may not see the motivations we do experience fall-outs.
During this time of lockdown the petty squabbles of the past will fall away but at the same time the Spirit will permit hidden things to come to the surface. Post-lockdown the Church will be different because there will be a repositioning and revealing of what had been hidden.
Let’s go back to the scene.
Martha is rushing around serving the food as usual. Lazarus is reclining ready to eat along with the disciples. Then Mary does something which is outrageous. The offense that it causes to others outweighs the generous gesture.
Judas who in that home at that time everyone thought was a good man and they were happy with their treasurer speaks up for the rest.
One thing we need to remember about offence it is this:
The offended never speak about the real offence they always latch onto something that they think justifies their offence and which is understandable to the most. This is what I mean:
The offence: Mary wiped his feet with her hair.
This was embarrassing, the disciples didn’t know where to look for it was culturally offensive
The veil of offence: Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.
“That makes sense Judas. Well said. We need to look out for the poor. That’s what Jesus has taught us. We totally agree!”
This is akin to a misogynistic man walking out of the church because the teaching isn’t ‘deep enough’ or ‘correct theology’ veiling the truth that the man hadn’t known beforehand that the preacher was a woman! Yes, it has happened.
Veiled offence uses something that is accurate ie Mary could have given the perfume to be sold for the poor and this was wasteful; but uses that to cause division when the truth is that she honours Jesus in an offensive way by letting her hair down.
Whose side are you on?
Put yourself in the scene. In the scene Judas is a good man.
Let me ask another question. Do you get offended? Are you today? Has someone said or done something that you carry a sense of injustice about; something obviously wrong and you have colleagues who can support you in this? Be careful of veiled offence.
The Spirit will permit our stupidity to cleanse the hidden scene of offence.
These are tense times for the Church. Everything has changed.
The followers of Jesus need to stay united together.
However certain followers may need to be exposed and then later repositioned.