By Jon Bloom
We all are happiness hunters. We are all treasure seekers. And as Judas and Mary illustrate, there’s one sure way to measure what we treasure: what we’re willing to spend to obtain it.
The dinner table was buzzing with happy conversation. As Lazarus fielded a stream of questions about what it was like to die and Martha cleared empty plates and filled empty wine bowls, Mary quietly slipped away into another room.
When she returned she was carrying a large wooden bowl with a small alabaster jar inside. Mary knelt down near Jesus’s feet, placed the bowl on the floor, and began to remove her headdress. The talking trailed away as Jesus turned toward her and sat up. Soon everyone was straining or standing to get a better look at what she was doing.
Mary removed the small jar and then reverently placed Jesus’s feet inside the bowl. She picked up the jar, removed the stopper, and poured its contents slowly on Jesus’s feet. The room was wordless as she gathered her long hair in her right hand and used it to wipe Jesus’s feet. An exotic, breathtaking fragrance wafted across the table. The guests exchanged wide-eyed glances. Everyone knew this was a rare perfume.
Jesus was moved. His eyes were full of intense affection as he watched Mary work.
Judas was moved too, but not with affection. He was irritated. He simply could not fathom Mary’s wasteful extravagance. That perfume had to have been worth nearly a year’s wages. Never once in three years had Jesus’s disciples had that amount of money at one time. And there it sat, a contaminated, worthless puddle in a bowl.
His indignant objection shot through the silence: “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?”
This question turned the atmosphere tense. Mary stopped and looked sadly at the floor. All other eyes turned to Jesus. To a number of the disciples this seemed like a fair question. Jesus typically instructed them to give any extra money in their collective moneybag to the needy. Often “extra” meant beyond what they needed that day. Mary’s act did seem a bit indulgent.
Jesus said nothing for a moment and continued to stare at Mary. He knew what they were all thinking. And he knew that Judas had questioned her “not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief and being in charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it” (John 12:6). Judas’s noble sounding protest was no more than a disguise for his greed. Jesus grieved and seethed over Judas’s duplicity and how he had contaminated Mary’s worship.
Read the rest of Jon’s article here.