Read with me through Matthew 26:6-16 to see what happened all these years ago on that Wednesday.
Jesus Anointed at Bethany
6 While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of Simon the Leper, 7 a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table.
8 When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. “Why this waste?” they asked. 9 “This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.”
10 Aware of this, Jesus said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 11 The poor you will always have with you,[a] but you will not always have me. 12 When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. 13 Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”
Judas Agrees to Betray Jesus
14 Then one of the Twelve—the one called Judas Iscariot—went to the chief priests 15 and asked, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver him over to you?” So they counted out for him thirty pieces of silver. 16 From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over.
What stands out to you in this story of Mary and the anointing of Jesus? Does a particular scripture grab your attention? For me, it is when the disciples reacted with, “why this waste?” after Mary did this, but more than that, how Jesus reacts. There are some things we need to know in order to better understand what is happening. John’s gospel account of this same anointing shows us a lot of specifics, like how Mary took about pint of pure nard. This specific oil and the amount that Mary used, was an entire year worth of wages at this time. In Mark’s gospel account, we see that Mary actually broke the alabaster jar the oil was in, this meant she couldn’t use the jar again and every last drop was sacrificed for Jesus. She pours the oil on his head and we see that word “indignant” again, all the disciples were angered by this, but John tells us that Judas specifically is very vocal about it because all he saw was wasted money. In fact, he goes on to try and make himself “look good” by saying it could have been given to the poor, but he didn’t care for the poor in the way he was acting like he did, he just couldn’t believe what she’d done. How does Jesus react to Judas’ outspokenness against Mary? We see Jesus defend her, telling the disciples todays verse. See, Mary knew and loved Jesus so much, she believed Jesus and what he said was going to happen to him, so she gave everything she had to prepare Him for it, ironically, Judas ends up being the one that basically gives Jesus over to his death.
So, let’s get into Judas’ betraying Jesus now in 14-16. Our application really helps us with this section of the Bible because we get an insight into Judas and his motives. Judas was the treasurer of the disciples and he was expecting to have an important rule in Jesus’ new government. But, this moment with Mary, Judas sees that it’s not a government that Jesus is forming, in fact there is no political agenda at all and with this incident, Judas realizes Jesus’ kingdom is spiritual. “Judas’ greedy desire for money and status could not be realized if he followed Jesus, so he betrayed Jesus in exchange for money and favor from the religious leaders.” Look back at verse 15, how much was Jesus “sold” for?
Judas was given 30 silver coins to betray Jesus, this was the price a slave would be sold for then. This moment with the religious leaders, we see Judas’ love for money, more than his love for Jesus.
What Mary did was holy, she sacrificed everything, she focused on Jesus. But Judas looks a whole lot more like the world, where money = power, money = significance and money = success, but that’s not what we see here. We see Jesus defend what Mary does and says it is not a waste at all. Jesus loved the poor and cared for them, but He still didn’t see this as an act of waste, rather an act of worship. I believe that we can learn that our money is the Lord’s and we need to handle our money as such, not as a way to further our status, but rather to further the kingdom of God.
Where do you see yourself clinging to money or living for money/success/the world? Is money an area of your life where you struggle? What is a step you could take to put the Lord above this struggle?
Lord, thank you so much for our reading today, for this message of what we see just two days before he dies and the lessons you continued to teach us through Jesus on this day. We see your message about loving you, above all else, and as your word says, we cannot have two Gods, you and money, and we see that through Judas who chose money. Help us to keep our hearts towards you, to have a heart like Mary, whose biggest desire was to worship, love and honor you. Help us to keep money from becoming an idol for us. Help us to keep our eyes on you. In your good and loving name, AMEN!