Summary: Like Judas, let us forsake a casual relationship with Jesus and be more like Mary who developed a close, personal, and intimate relationship with Jesus Christ, the Savior.
I ran across a book from 1904, entitled, “Maxwell’s Elementary grammar” that contained the following poem:
"Oho!" said the pot to the kettle; "You are dirty and ugly and black! Sure no one would think you were metal, except when you're given a crack." "Not so! Not so!" kettle said to the pot; "'Tis your own dirty image you see; For I am so clean – without blemish or blot – That your blackness is mirrored in me."
You may have heard someone use the idiom that says, “Well, that’s the pot calling the kettle black!”The idiom is in reference to a person who is guilty of the very thing of which they are accusing another.
That sounds a lot like Judas in our Gospel lesson today, doesn’t it? Here we find Mary at the feet of Jesus, but this time, not in the mode of learning as before, but recognizing Jesus in honor and worship.
She is more than grateful to Jesus for raising her brother Lazarus from the dead. She is more than thankful for all Jesus has taught her. So, this moment was special. Whether this is the recognition of his death and she was symbolically anointing his body for burial, Mary gave all that she had in a most splendid way. She opens a bottle of expensive perfume, empties the contents on the feet of Jesus, and begins to wash his feet using her hair.
This gesture may simply have been a spontaneous expression of love for Jesus. She wanted to bless him and this was a way she could do that. She takes something of immense and irreplaceable value and gives it all to Jesus.
Jesus understood her intentions and he knew her heart. He was pleased. He was honored. So, with that, you would think others would completely understand the situation just like Jesus? No, Not everyone!
Gaining the attention of Jesus is the statement Judas makes in verse 5, “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth 300 denarii.”
Can we relate to Judas? After all, one single denarii was a day’s wages…and 300 was equivalent to one year’s salary. I’m not sure how much you make in one year, but whether your income is $20,000 or $100,000 a year, that is a lot of “money” to be pouring out onto someone’s feet.
However, that’s not the point! The real issue here is the intent of Judas! He verbalizes what seems to be a genuine concern that there was a greater purpose for the perfume…to be sold…and the proceeds given to charity!
But, we all know, Jesus discerns what is truly in our heart and mind. Jesus knew that charity was not what Judas really had in mind. Judas didn’t see perfume being poured out as an offering unto Christ. All he saw was “liquid money” being spilled and wasted. Money he would miss an opportunity of getting his hands on!
Judas was the “keeper of the bag” and was noted for “reaching in” and helping himself…embezzlement at its finest. Jesus knew his statement was false and quickly cuts him off by saying in verse 7, “leave her alone….”
It's a sharp rebuke that blows Judas’ cover. Judas’ only care was about money. Jesus was exposing the true motive in Judas’s heart. He let Judas know that he was fully aware that the real issue was about the money. He knew that Judas could care less about the poor.
But Jesus did more than rebuke Judas for his greed. He also rebuked him for his inability to appreciate what this lavish outpouring of love by Mary could mean.
Judas saw waste. Jesus saw anointing for burial. Judas was looking at his own soul, his own concerns. Jesus was noting the outpouring of affection that comes from a close relationship that he had with Mary.
That, I believe, is just one of the many lessons we could pull from this story today. Mary had come to know and love Jesus in a very special and intimate way. Because of this depth of relationship, she was able to humble herself and offer this touching expression of love to Him.
Such depth and sincerity of love comes only through spending time in close fellowship with Jesus. The way we express our love for Jesus depends on the effort we have put forth to develop this kind of relationship with Him.
Our love for Jesus will not grow unless we spend time with Him, listening to His voice to experience His love for us. If we find that our love for Jesus has declined, cooled off, or become distant and serving him through worship and obedience is a constant struggle, it should cause us some concern that we must re-evaluate our priorities and make more time, like Mary, to sit the feet of Jesus.