Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where a supper was prepared. Lazarus the Four Days Dead was present, as were his sisters Martha and Mary. Many Jews attended as well--"not for Jesus' sake only, but that they might see Lazarus also, whom He had raised from the dead."
Indeed, Jesus performed His most famous miracle when He raised Lazarus--and it is a well known fact that everyone loves a miracle! Unto this very day, the faithful (as well as the merely curious) will flock to see a myrrh-steaming icon, or to receive a blessing from a holy man reputed to possess the gift of healing. Through the revelation of miracles, we hope to catch a glimpse of a dimension of reality that transcends the dull, humdrum experience of our everyday lives. At the same time, we also harbor the expectation that we ourselves might be vouchsafed a miracle of our own... and what greater miracle can we conceive of than our deliverance from the power of death and the seemingly inevitable progression of all things earthly toward decay and corruption?
And so it came to pass that the Jews eagerly converged to witness our Lord's triumphal entry into Jerusalem... we could say, in fact, that Jesus had achieved overnight the status of Israel's most popular celebrity! And it was, after all, difficult not to participate in the jubilant celebration: everyone, it seemed, was cheering for Him.
But it is obvious how superficial this adulation actually was when we consider the fact that just a few days later, the crowd could be so easily manipulated into crying, "Crucify Him!" Martha and Mary, you see, truly loved our Lord--not primarily because He was a miracle worker Who possessed the power to raise their brother from the tomb, but simply because He was Who He was! It was from the abundance of love that overflowed her heart that Mary anointed Jesus' feet and wiped them with her hair--expecting nothing in return.
You and I may indeed profess to love Jesus--but if we were perfectly honest, we would be forced to admit that our so-called love is neither pure nor unconditional--that deep down, we are always expecting something in return. Our love, however, is never a true reflection of the love of God so long as there are strings attached: and the same applies when we consider our human relationships. Authentic love is never constrained: it implies the willingness to suffer and even to die for the sake of the beloved. It implies, in fact, our eager desire to ascend the cross of sacrificial suffering. Only then shall we be deemed worthy to behold the glorious Resurrection of Christ.