tipping points of discipleship

Today’s message concludes a Lenten sermon series on Jesus’ journey to the cross.  During this series, we have considered:

  • Jesus’ identity as the Son of God as he faced a time of testing in the wilderness
  • Jesus’ lamenting faith as he set his face to Jerusalem and the cross
  • Jesus’ unlikely calling to share the power of God through the weakness of the cross
  • The reconciling power of God’s love as seen in the parable of the Father who shared love equally with his son who wandered away from home and his son who stayed at home

Today, we consider Jesus’ journey to the cross as Mary anoints him as the Messiah in John 12:1-8.  To understand the significance of Mary’s anointing of Jesus as the Messiah, it is important to know the primary emphasis of the Gospel of John that is found in John 1:29 where John the Baptist identifies Jesus at the beginning of Jesus’ ministry as “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!”

This early affirmation of Jesus’ identity in the Gospel of John is unique from the other gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke.  In these three gospels, Jesus’ identity is gradually understood as Jesus’ call for his disciples to follow him changes from “follow me and I will make you fish for people” to “if any would come after me, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.”  This tipping point of discipleship occurs as Jesus asks his disciples in Matthew 16:15, Mark 8:29, and Luke 9:20, “who do you say that I am?”

In the Gospel of John, there is no record of Jesus asking his disciples the question of “who do you say that I am” because in John’s Gospel there is no question about who Jesus is.  From the beginning of Jesus’ ministry in the first chapter of John’s Gospel to the concluding chapter of John’s Gospel, Jesus is understood to be “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”  Throughout the Gospel of John, there are tipping points where Jesus’ identity is affirmed.  Today’s lesson from John 12:1-8 is one of these tipping points as Mary anoints Jesus.

To understand Mary’s anointing of Jesus, it is important to note that the timing for the story is six days before the Passover.  The Passover was the commemoration of the 10th and final plague in the story of God’s deliverance of the Hebrew slaves from the captivity of Egypt.  The Passover meal is essential to remembering the events of the Passover, and essential to the Passover meal is the Passover Lamb whose blood was placed on the doorposts of the Jewish slaves’ homes in Egypt so the angel of death would pass over their homes.  In preparing for the Passover, Mary anoints Jesus as the Passover Lamb as she anoints him on his journey to the cross.

Eliseo Perez-Alvarez shares how radical the story of Mary’s anointing of Jesus is:

“Messiah” is a Hebrew word translated as “anointed.”  In the proximity of the Passover independence celebration, Mary anointed the Anointed.  In this passage, we see that the    Gospel of John offers a radical view of the power that women hold …  Here Jesus is anointed (given power) by a woman from the countryside, from the working class …


Mary’s anointing of Jesus is a story about the tipping point of discipleship in the Gospel of John but Mary’s story is not the only story about the tipping point of discipleship in John.  From beginning to end, John’s Gospel is the story of tipping points of discipleship as Jesus’ followers define the story of their lives through the story of Jesus.

May God bless our lives, from beginning to end, with tipping points of discipleship.

Tipping Points of Discipleship
by Pastor Marc Brown
April 3, 2022

Accompanying Scriptures: John 12: 1-8

Fort Hill United Methodist Church
Order of Worship for April 3, 2021

Scripture Lesson          John 12: 1-8

The Good News              “Tipping Points of Discipleship

Music                                  “How Deep the Father’s Love for Us” by Stuart Townsend



Closing Music              “Jesus Keep Me Near the Cross” by Hugh S. Livingston

View more Fort Hill United Methodist Church online services.

Follow us: