Summary: The love of Mary for Jesus contrasted with the selfish motives of Judas.
Love Contrasted, John 12:1-8
“Six days before the Passover, Jesus arrived at 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 NIV)
In an article in Christian Woman Today, Karen Weaver, tells the story of having taught a vacation Bible school class on the betrayal of Jesus by Judas Iscariot. After the lesson, I went over the review questions and asked, “Who betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver?” Without hesitating, her 7-year-old son, Kenny, replied, “I know! It was ‘Judas the Scariest!”
Today’s text, John 12:1-8, is the recorded the account of Mary, the sister of Lazarus, anointing the feet of Jesus with pure nard, that is, a very expensive perfume. In this passage, Mary displays what is in her heart; love for Jesus.
Just a few versus later, the love of Mary is contrasted by the love of Judas. Upon seeing Mary wasting this precious perfume on the feet of Jesus, he accuses her of not caring for the poor. Judas motivation is plainly not that the perfume, the pure or genuine nard, could have been sold for the poor.
His concern is for himself, as the text plainly states, greed was his motivation, for he was the treasurer and he was helping himself to disciple’s money. As I enter the text it is with the aim of examining love contrasted: The love of Mary for her Lord and the love of Judas for the things of this world.
There is a lot to “unpack” (Exegete) in this passage of Scripture. Indeed, as with the entire Bible, there are layers of meaning and multitudes of application for believers. This entire chapter of Scripture abounds with truth.
There are no miracles or lengthy discourses of Jesus in John 12. Rather, we read the accounts of the beginning of Jesus last week of His earthly ministry. In this passage we see illustrated the attitudes of the people toward Christ.
While there is much impactful doctrinal material to be found in John 12, it is the attitudes of the people in response to Christ that will be our focus.
I ask you to consider your own attitude toward Christ as we examine the attitudes toward Him that we find present in John 12. While we long to transform society, while we pray continually for God to use this Church, us, to be a light to the Illinois Valley, if we are to change the world with regard to its attitude toward Jesus, we must first consider our own attitude toward Christ.
How will God ever trust us to be faithful stewards of the great blessing of ministry which I believe is just on the horizon for this church, if we will not first be wise stewards of what He has already entrusted to us?
Before we seek to impact them for Christ, let us be personally and continually impacted by Christ. Then we will be ready for the blessing of God which I am compelled to believe lies just at the horizon for First Congregational Church.
Our focus must always be on following after Jesus personally and sharing His love corporately; internally reaching out to one another as we share His love together; externally as together we create “come and see” opportunities as a church to gather the unchurched, unbelieving, lost world to present the Gospel of Jesus Christ to them in plain, loving, and biblical terms.
This is our focus. This is our mission. We have covenanted together to “Follow Jesus and to share His love.” So, in order to share His love effectively, we must be permeated by it, completely! In order to live, as the Bible says, in the world but not be of the world, we must first be disciples of Jesus and then make more disciples of Jesus.
The great omission of the modern Christian Church is our lack of personal and corporate focus on the Great Commission. This is tragic! For it is in giving away the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ that we become channels of blessing.