12:1 Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead.
12:2 There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him.
12:3 Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.
12:4 But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said,
12:5 “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?”
12:6 (He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.)
12:7 Jesus said, “Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial.
12:8 You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.”
12:9 When the great crowd of the Jews learned that he was there, they came not only because of Jesus but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead.
12:10 So the chief priests planned to put Lazarus to death as well,
12:11 since it was on account of him that many of the Jews were deserting and were believing in Jesus.
This passage marks the beginning of what how high the cost is to truly follow after Christ. Up until this point, there were just merely threats to put Jesus alone to death. Those who were around him were never placed as a target because Jesus was the focal point of all that was going on and He was the one that would constantly challenge the religious rulers of that day. Yet, Jesus warned those who followed after him that there would come a day in which they would face persecution for believing in Him.
This woman who came to place the perfume at the feet of Jesus is our first example of someone counting the true cost of following after Christ. The perfume was costly and it was an expensive item that she could have held on to. In addition to this, her act of pouring over the feet of Christ and wiping it with her hair was a true act of humility and grasp of who Jesus is. The perfume was a representation of what is costly from the human standpoint, but for the person who is truly following after Christ, her act of humility was a picture of what it means to sacrifice your comfort zone to and reputation to follow after Christ.
Lazarus then becomes our second example of what it means to follow after Christ. He is now a target of one whom they want to put to death for deserting the Jewish faith and believing in Jesus. The religious rulers of that day were incredibly hostile towards Jesus for introducing them to the pure message of the Gospel. A message that debunked all of the Jewish traditions and laws of that day and pointed towards an everlasting relationship with Christ that did not require any traditions to acquire salvation. Jesus’ death and resurrection eliminated sin and all of the religious ways that were placed in order to be saved.
Counting the true cost of being a follower of Christ is not something that we may have to face while living in North America. However, there are those who are living in different parts of the world that have to face the serious threat of persecution each day for being Christians. Regardless of where you live, we are called to daily pursue living for Christ no matter what the world tells us. There may come a day when we are challenged because of our faith and because of our faith in Him, we can rest assured that He will give us the strength and boldness to keep following after Him, no matter the cost.
At this stage in the life of Jesus, the Pharisees and the Sadducees hated Him so much that they were resigned to kill Jesus and anyone who was supporting His message. One would ask, what does Lazarus have to do with Jesus? Why would they want to kill a man unaffiliated with the disciples? The simple answer is that Lazarus posed a threat to them because he was raised from the dead and word has spread. Just having Lazarus still alive was a testimony of the power of Jesus.
Sadly, people still want to prevent the gospel, even with extreme measures. Big named pastors (even today) have body guards. I went to a church in Indiana with 5,000 people and that pastor received more death threats, even from other Christians, than anyone I’ve ever met. I would not expect to go through this life unopposed. You will be opposed by both Christians and non-Christians if you are preaching and living the true gospel.