The Saved, The Servant, The Worshiper, The Thief


What motivates individuals varies widely, but typically rests on what we believe will satisfy and make us happy. What brings us most joy, as well as what most frustrates us, often exposes what most motivates us. Today’s Scripture creates a vignette story that clearly shows the hearts of some who were closest to Jesus.

  • As you read, consider: Where in the following story would you place yourself? Were you in attendance, with whom would you most align?

READ THE WORD: JOHN 11:55-12:8 (ESV) 

55 Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and many went up from the country to Jerusalem before the Passover to purify themselves. 56 They were looking for Jesus and saying to one another as they stood in the temple, “What do you think? That he will not come to the feast at all?” 57 Now the chief priests and the Pharisees had given orders that if anyone knew where he was, he should let them know, so that they might arrest him.

12:1 Six days before the Passover, Jesus therefore came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead.2 So they gave a dinner for him there. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at table. Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, 5 “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?”6 He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it. 7 Jesus said, “Leave her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of my burial. For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.”

English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


  1. What was the plan of the Pharisees (vss. 11:55-57)? Where did Jesus go instead of Jerusalem (vs. 12:1)? Why do you think he chose Bethany? 
  2. What information do you glean about Lazarus, Martha, and Mary (vss. 12:1-3)?
  3. What did Mary do as the guests reclined at the dinner (vs. 3)? What made this common courtesy an unordinary act?
  4. What was Judas’ response, and what is the commentary included regarding him (vss. 4-6)? Are there ways in which you want to be close to Jesus for personal gain?
  5. What, then, was Jesus’ response (vss. 7-8)? Do you think this seemed an odd response to those around the table? What questions and feelings might this statement have stirred in you?


Jesus knew the time of his death was approaching. The home of Lazarus, Martha, and Mary was a place of safety and comfort for him; a place where he was known and loved, served from grateful hearts. But among them was also a thief. In stark contrast to the three, Judas wanted only what Jesus could do for him. In what ways are we thieves like Judas? Do we “help ourselves” to the pouch of resources with which we are entrusted? Are the rich promises Jesus offers your endgame; or do you love, serve, and worship him from an overflow of gratefulness?

  • Sit with God, asking him to expose in you any ways that you are keeping for yourself what is rightfully his, and to show you how to give back to him all he deserves.
  • Find a place of gratefulness in your heart for his kindness and mercy toward you, and worship him.