Summary: Our possessions and our priorities (our treasure and our heart) form a spiritual intersection. The direction we take determines everything that follows. That’s the story of our text: two treasures, two hearts, two lives headed in two totally differen
Day by Day with Jesus/Last Week Series
A Matter of the Heart
Dr. Roger W. Thomas, Preaching Minister
First Christian Church, Vandalia, MO
Jesus said, “Where your treasure is there will your heart be also.” Our text tells the story of two treasures, two hearts, and two lives headed into two totally different directions.
Of course when Jesus says, “where your treasure is there will your heart be also”, he’s not talking about the organ in your chest that pumps the blood. He is speaking of the center of your life, the focus of our love, affections and priorities.
On the first day of school, the kindergarten teacher told the class to put their right hands over their hearts and repeat the Pledge of Allegiance. The teacher watched the children as they started the pledge, "I pledge allegiance to the flag..." She stopped when she noticed Johnny’s right hand over the left side of his rear end. "Johnny, I will not continue until you put your hand over your heart." Johnny replied, "Ma’am, it is over my heart." After several attempts to get Johnny to put his hand over his heart, the teacher asked, "Why do you think that is your heart?" “Because whenever my Grandma visits, she picks me up, pats me here, and says, ’Bless your little heart, and my Grandma doesn’t lie!"
In an article in Today’s Christian Woman, Carol Leet tells of an incident that happened to her granddaughter. Four-year-old Amanda went to the doctor’s office with a fever. The doctor tried to ease the little girl’s obvious nervousness. When he looked in her ears, he said, "Who’s in there? Donald Duck?" She said, "No." He looked in her nose and said, "Who’s in there? Mickey Mouse?" Again she said, "No." He put his stethoscope on her heart and said, "Who’s in there? Barney?" Amanda replied, "No, Jesus is in my heart. Barney is on my underwear." (Today’s Christian Woman, Vol. 18, no. 4.)
Our possessions and our priorities (our treasure and our heart) form a spiritual intersection. The direction we take determines everything that follows. That’s the story of our text: two treasures, two hearts, two lives headed in two totally different directions.
We are working our way toward the cross. Three weeks ago we looked at the events of Palm Sunday. On Monday Jesus cleared the temple of moneychangers. On Tuesday, the religious officials challenged him with one trick question after another. Most Bible scholars think Wednesday was a quiet day for Jesus. He doesn’t go into Jerusalem. He stays in Bethany, the little village just east of the Mount of Olives. While Jesus rests, his enemies and one of his own begin the plot of unspeakable treachery.
Matthew and Mark both give Judas’ story an interesting twist. In the middle of explaining what Judas did, they tell the story of a dinner party in Bethany. The interesting part is—this didn’t happen on Wednesday. John tells us it happened the previous Saturday, the day before the triumphal entry. But Matthew and Mark connect it with Judas. They want us to see Judas’ despicable act in contrast with Mary’s act of devotion. When you set these two side by side, you quickly recognize a story of two treasures, two hearts, two lives headed in two totally different directions. If we listen carefully, we can hear our own story as well.
First, consider the similarities between the two central characters in our text. Both were followers of Jesus. The Mary mentioned here was the sister of Lazarus, the man Jesus raised from the dead. Jesus had stayed in their home many times. Mary and her sister Martha had fixed dinner for the disciples more times than you could count. On one occasion, Jesus commended Mary for her desire to listen to his teachings. This dinner takes place at the home of a neighbor, Simon the Leper. Mary and Martha are probably there to help with the meal.
Judas Iscariot had been one of Jesus’ disciples from the beginning. He had heard the same teachings the other disciples had. He like Mary had witnessed Jesus’ miraculous power. He preached Jesus message to others. Judas was more than just one of the twelve. He was the treasurer of the group. Judas was among the best and the brightest. Both Mary and Judas had walked and talked and served with Jesus. Both were at Simon’s dinner party on that Saturday before the cross. On the surface, Mary and Judas had much in common. But in the matters of the heart the two couldn’t have been any more different.
The events of the previous Saturday provide a striking contrast. Simon hosts the party to honor Jesus. He wanted his friends and neighbors to meet the man who had healed him. They didn’t use tables and chairs as we do. Jesus and his men recline around a large central serving area covered with bowls of food. Their heads and shoulders are toward the food; their feet extended toward the outer wall. Martha, Mary, and the women busily prepare and serve the food. Such meals were generally long, leisurely affairs of food, laughter, and conversation.