Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Jesus, Mary and Judas...and the disciples

Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.

But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.

“Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. “It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.”
John 12:1-8

Note three responses to Jesus in this passage. Mary shows Jesus extravagant, sacrificial love. Judas responds to Him only with deceit and greed for personal gain. The rest of the disciples recline at the table and maintain "business as usual" little knowing that the time they have left to honor Jesus before His death is slipping away. 

Mary's act of love is extravagant, almost gratuitous. The perfume was worth a year's wages. It was doubtless the most precious thing she owned. In all likelihood it was her life's savings. What's more she used her hair to wipe Jesus' feet! To grasp the power of that act you must understand two things. First, in that culture a woman's glory was her hair. Second, many of their roads were dirt roads and animals were used for transportation that would often leave droppings behind. This meant that people's feet were especially dirty at this time in history. Mary could have chosen to wipe Jesus' feet with a towel. Even this would have been lowering herself to the place of a servant to tend to His needs. But Mary takes her glory, the most treasured and clean part of her body and uses it as a rag to cleanse his feet. It's hard to imagine how shocking this was to those present. It was truly an act of deep commitment and astounding love for her Savior.

Compare that to Judas. He offers up no worship for Christ. Instead he attempts to deceive Him. His aim is not to exalt Jesus but to profit off Him, to steal from Him. Judas hides his greed behind fake piety. He claims to care for the poor, but his true care is lining his pockets. We see in this story the seed that gives sprout to Judas' later betrayal of Jesus. Judas' god is money. Already he was willing to lie to Jesus and steal from Him in order to get more money. Soon enough he will find himself selling Jesus' life for 30 pieces of silver, an amount that was only worth about four months wages. Even in his betrayal Judas sells Jesus short. 

Lastly, consider the rest of the disciples. In John's gospel they are silent. Other gospel records (Matt. 26:6-13 & Mark 14:3-9) indicate that they agreed with Judas (although apparently from pure motives) that this was a wasteful use of resources. They thought more good could have been done by giving this money to the poor. These men are faithful to Jesus. They serve Him every day. They love Him. Indeed, they have left everything for Him. But today is merely "business as usual" for them. Little do they know that Jesus will soon be taken from them. Before long they will wish to be back in Jesus' presence again but be unable to be with Him. There is no sin in their lack of action, just missed opportunity. 

Don't miss your opportunity today. Sure, today is just a normal Wednesday. But Jesus is still our Savior. He is still risen from the dead. He is still worthy of all praise and every honor we can bestow on Him. So let's pull out all of the stops and bless Jesus in a special way today. Who knows? It could be your last opportunity. So take the step of faith to share the gospel with that coworker. Make a big gift to your church or to a missions organization. Dedicate a large chunk of your precious time today to getting alone with God and worshiping Him. Do whatever God leads you to do, whatever is the natural overflow of your heart; but do it extravagantly and do it from love.    

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