Holy Week gives us pause.

We reflect on the sacrifice that Jesus made,

the devotion of his followers,

and the grief they suffer in his death.

How will you walk through Holy Week? Where do you find yourself in the cast of characters surrounding Jesus during this Lenten season?

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Six days before Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, home of Lazarus, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. Lazarus and his sisters hosted a dinner for him. Martha served and Lazarus was among those who joined him at the table. Then Mary took an extraordinary amount, almost three-quarters of a pound, of very expensive perfume made of pure nard. She anointed Jesus’ feet with it, then wiped his feet dry with her hair. The house was filled with the aroma of the perfume. Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), complained, “This perfume was worth a year’s wages! Why wasn’t it sold and the money given to the poor?” (He said this not because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief. He carried the money bag and would take what was in it.)

Then Jesus said, “Leave her alone. This perfume was to be used in preparation for my burial, and this is how she has used it. You will always have the poor among you, but you won’t always have me.”

John 12:1-8

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Imagine the scene around the table at Lazarus’ home in Bethany. There are four really interesting characters in the room. Lazarus, who was recently dead, yet Jesus raised from the dead. How weird would that be? Then the two sisters, Martha and Mary. Martha hustles about, serving all those gathered. Mary takes a very expensive perfume and washes Jesus’ feet with it, even drying them with her hair. Lastly, there is Judas, the one who would betray Jesus, feigning injustice at the use of the perfume.

Who are you in the scene? Are you Lazarus, and just happy to be there? Are you Martha, busy serving so many you miss the very Christ there in your midst? Are you Judas, who only wants to appear to do the right thing? Or are you Mary, humble at the feet of Jesus, wasteful in your worship of him?

Jesus defended Mary. He knew the events the week would bring. She was actively bringing about the Kingdom without knowing.

Brian Foreman

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Oh that I would be as humble as Mary, God. Forgive me when I make everything about myself. Help me to be present in the moments that I have with you, not busy preparing for the next thing I have to do. Open my eyes this week to the moments that led you to Calvary. Amen.

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The Kingdom is here, but not yet in its fullness.

Jesus taught his followers to be about Kingdom-building through service and love. He never promised them it would be easy.

Go and do likewise.

Brian Foreman

Brian Foreman is the director of the Campbell Youth Theological Institute (CYTI) at Campbell University, where rising high school Sophomores, Juniors, and Seniors are invited to explore their faith, vocational leanings, and how each translates into social action through lives of service and leadership. For more information about CYTI, visit

Brian is also professor in the Divinity School and the Department of Christian Studies, teaching courses in youth and education ministry, as well as Introduction to Christianity classes.

Brian lives in Raleigh with his wife Denise and two teenagers, Brock, 17, and Adria, 13, who are his own personal youth group.

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Mark Hayes

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