Summary: Who are you more like - Judas or Mary?
Two contrasting attitudes
What struck me most from the Gospel reading today was the contrasting attitudes
1. of Mary and
2. of Judas
It is our attitudes that interest God not our giftings.
God is interested in our hearts.
I was struck the other day when I presiding at Holy Communion in Stiffkey by a verse from the Old Testament reading for the day- 1 Sam 16:
“But the LORD said to Samuel, "Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." (1 Sam 16:7)
God is interested in our heart not in our outward persona
One of my favourite verses from Proverbs is the one that says:
"Above all else, guard your heart for it is the wellspring of life" (Prov 4:23)
And another verse from Proverbs that I like is the one - where God speaks and says:
"My son, give me your heart and let your eyes keep to my ways" (Prov 23:26)
At first blush, Judas’ attitude looks commendable. He appears to be concerned at the waste of money and giving to the poor.
A pint of pure nard, was very expensive – about a year’s salary for a middle class earner.
Wouldn’t that be great to put towards the quota?
But Judas’ motivation was wrong. St. John sums it up wryly:
4But .. Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, 5"Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages. " 6He 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. (Jn 12:4-6)
So WHY might you ask did Jesus put Judas in charge of the common Treasury.
Surely Matthew, who had been a tax collector would have been better for the job.
Surely Jesus realised Judas was stealing?
Well, I believe Jesus did know that Judas was stealing. So why put Judas in charge of the common purse.
May I suggest that the reason Jesus allowed Judas to hold the common purse is tied up integrally with Jesus’ strange yet well known words in the Lord’s Prayer:
“Lead us not into temptation.” (Mt 6:13)
Does God tempt us? What do you think?
God has given us free will and those - who respond to his call to discipleship – He will test. God will test the integrity of their hearts.
Why – because Jesus is looking for single-minded disciples – who are sold out to God.
And do you remember what Jesus said about split loyalties
"No one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Money. (Mt 6:24)
This was Judas’ problem. He wanted to serve Jesus and Money too.
Judas needed to change the way he thought – but he didn’t and eventually his love of money won out over his love of Jesus. And as we all know – he betrayed Jesus to the Jewish leaders on the first Good Friday – and precipitated Christ’s crucifixion.
In contrast to Judas, let’s take a look at Mary
The Bible doesn’t tell us a lot about this Mary.
She turns up in three incidents recorded in Scripture:
1. She was the sister of Lazarus and features in the story of the Death and Resurrection of Lazarus in the previous chapter (Jn 11)
2. She appears in today’s Gospel reading (Jn 12) and
3. We meet Mary again in an incident recorded by St Luke (Luke 10:38-42)
This last incident reveals something about Mary that is very telling.
Story: Jesus has come round for dinner at Mary and Martha’s. And instead of helping with the meal, Mary sits down at Jesus’ feet and listens to him - while her sister Martha is busy getting food on the table for Jesus.
Mary is devoted to Jesus and wants to spend time with him – not just serving him.
Martha eventually has enough and complains to Jesus that Mary is not helping her with the meal Jesus said this:
Martha, Martha you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken from her. (Lk10:41, 42)
Mary’s heart – her attitude was right. She sought time with Jesus – not doing things for him – but spending time with Jesus.
No amount of ministry was going to get in Mary’s way.