Broken and Spilled Out


Dee Brestin leads a study of John 12:1-8.

Read John 12: 1-8

In this passage, you will see Mary “broken and spilled out,” just as she realized, Jesus was going to be “broken and spilled out” for her.  Perhaps, it is my pride as a woman, but I love it that Mary of Bethany, alone among the disciples, understood what was about to happen to Jesus. The psalmist says “He confides His secrets in those who are open to Him.” She understood He was going to die, and so she took bold action, action that takes my breath away. Like us, she struggled with her own “idols” — things she put above God— “stones” that held her back. What broke her idols? The love of Christ. She could give up approval, for He was her approval. She could give up the comfort and security of her savings, for He was her security. And she could give up control and power, for she knew He was King of Kings, and that she was His.

List below are three idols of the heart:

1. Security/Comfort

2. Power/Control

3. Affirmation/Approval

You will see Mary break all three when she comes to this party to celebrate the raising of her brother (Lazurus).  It is Mark who tells us that the perfume Mary spilled out was worth a year’s wages. This was the family’s wealth, security — but she spills it out and Martha does not complain. There are those who do complain, but that is because their idols are at work. They are using Jesus instead of loving Him.  Be sure to do the study both in John and in Mark — for each writer gives important insights that will stir your soul.

1. The setting:

  • When did this occur and why is this significant?
  • What is the occasion of the celebration?
  • Who was there?
  • What was Martha doing? How is she the same as we have seen her and how is she different? What does this teach you?

 2. Read John 12:3-6

  • Write down everything Mary did. 
  • Why does Judas object? Contrast his heart with Mary’s.

 3. Read John 12:7-8. How does Jesus defend her? 

 4. Read Mark 14:3-9. Though Mary is not named here, I believe it was her, for it was at the same time, just before Passover, it was at Bethany, and the rebuke of Jesus to the disciples is so similar.

 5. Here the disciples seem to jump on the bandwagon with Judas, criticizing Mary. What is their criticism?

 6. What does Jesus tell them? Does this mean Jesus doesn’t care for the poor? Explain.

(This was a narrow window to bless Jesus on earth, and Mary seized it. I like to think that as He hung on the cross, the fragrance was still on his body, reminding him that there was one who truly loved him. Now we can do the same for Jesus by caring for the least of these, for He said, when you do it for those, you do it for me.)

 7. What does Jesus say about Mary in Mark 14:8-9? Thoughts?

 8. We could say: Go be like Mary, but that would miss the point. Instead, Mary was able to do what she did because her affections were on Jesus. Let us do the same. When Jesus went to the cross, how did it show that none of these three idols were as important to Him as His love for us?

  • How did He give up comfort?
  • How did He give up approval?
  • How did He give up power and control?

9. How does this impact you with the “stones” in your life?


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