The familiar story of Mary anointing the feet of Jesus with expensive perfume is found in John 12:1-8. Although there is much to be learned here, the section that stood out to me today are the last four verses which read,
“But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, ‘Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?’ He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it. Jesus said, ‘Leave her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of my burial. For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.’”
Often when I think of Judas, I only remember him betraying Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. Here though we see that Judas was placed in charge of the money for Jesus and his group of followers. It explicitly says that Judas had the habit of taking money from that bag for his selfish wants way before his betrayal of Jesus. How could Jesus put him in charge of the money?
I think there are a few things we can learn from this story:
First, Jesus put him in charge of the money probably because he was good at managing money.
Second, Jesus shows trust in Judas even though he knew of his temptation in this area. He may have tried to appeal to Judas’ sense of honor in his attempt to reach him with the Gospel. He took the risk of believing the best in him with the hope he would step-up!
Third, we learn something about temptation here. As Westcott said, “Temptation commonly comes through that for which we are naturally fitted.” I need to be aware that I am vulnerable in my strengths, not just my weaknesses.
Fourth, we see that Judas’ whole perspective on the world is warped. He has missed the beauty of the act of Mary because he was consumed with personal greed.
Fifth, Barclay makes another profound observation when he notes,
“Some things we can do almost any time, but some things we will never do, unless we grasp the chance when it comes. We are seized with the desire to do something fine and generous and big-hearted. But we put it off—we will do it tomorrow; and the fine impulse goes, and the thing is never done. Life is an uncertain thing. We think to utter some word of thanks or praise or love but we put it off; and often the word is never spoken.”
Mary understood the importance of honoring Jesus when she had the opportunity. Judas missed his chance.
Father, since this story is so familiar, I often overlook the lessons to be learned. Help me to learn from this and seize the moments you provide and do what I know you want me too and not put it off. Some opportunities only present themselves briefly and may never have the chance again. Help me to seize those moments with family, friends and in the ministry so that I do not live with regrets!
Following Jesus with you,