After last week’s blog, I barely had time to savor Mary’s adoration and worship of Jesus before being hit with the criticism of Judas. What a contrast! It reminds me of the times I’ve felt as though I was on a spiritual mountaintop, worshipping and enjoying closeness to God…and then circumstances of life seemed to push me off the cliff into a valley of frustration and confusion.
John 12:4-7 begins, One of the 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.”
I wonder if in that moment Mary felt ashamed. It seems a logical question. Did she ask herself about her choice? Did she doubt her motive? Did she wonder for a split second if she had missed the point of Jesus’ teachings?
The truth is that devotion to Jesus is costly. It causes generosity but it can also cost us time, energy and even relationships. And, might I boldly ask the question, “Why shouldn’t it?” How can we possibly be stingy with the gifts He has freely given us? How can we hold back anything when Jesus purchased us with His own blood?
Scripture goes on to explain the motive of Judas. 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.
While Mary kept her eyes on Jesus and her heart devoted to Him, Judas kept his eyes on the money bag. His devotion was to his own selfish gain. He wasn’t interested in caring for the poor. He was greedy and ambitious.
”Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. “It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial.”
My heart soars when I read how Jesus first responded to Mary’s accuser. She didn’t have to say a word to explain herself. Not one word was necessary. Jesus defended her. When our accuser lies about us, condemns our deeds motivated by devotion, or ridicules our worship, Jesus is perfectly capable of putting him in his place. I take great comfort in knowing that He knows my heart and will step in to defend me if necessary. I also need not say a single word.
I’m also deeply moved by this passage because I know that in that time, women were considered second class citizens. It is said that the Pharisees began their day by thanking God that they were not born a Gentile, a woman, or a slave. Jesus defied the cultural norm. He taught women. He used women as examples of faith in His parables. He healed women. He publicly forgave women. And in this story, we see Jesus defend and protect Mary’s right to lavishly worship. She would be allowed to worship freely and to know the intimacy of fellowship with God. What a picture of Genesis 1 and 2…the way it is supposed to be…and the way it will be again. Jesus painted a picture of heaven…people who were once Jew and Greek, slave and free, female and male, all one in Him.
Okay…I’m just going to step away and follow Mary’s example of freely worshiping the One who is worthy…my Savior, my Defender, my Protector and so much more.
Questions to ponder:
Do I judge others’ acts of worship?
What are my motives for worship?