Underlying Judas’ betrayal, the motivation behind why Judas said, why wasn’t this money given to the poor was his love of money. Let’s call it what it is. Money was his idol. Judas didn’t love the poor. He didn’t love Jesus. He was ready to betray Jesus for $1,000. That’s how much Jesus was worth to him. Jesus was so cheap in his eyes.
We look at this despicable, treacherous act of betrayal and we think, we’d never do that. We would never sell a human being, much less the Son of God, for a measly $1,000. If you are thinking this way, then you don’t know yourself. You don’t know the power of money to grip your heart. You don’t Scripture, which is filled with plenty of warnings about the deceitfulness of wealth.
Take for example 1 Tim 6:6-10.
1 Timothy 6
6 But godliness with contentment is a great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out. 8 But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with these. 9 But those who want to be rich fall into temptation, a trap, and many foolish and harmful desires, which plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and by craving it, some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains.
These verses apply directly to Judas. Judas loved money more than Jesus. It was his love for money which ultimately caused him to betray Jesus and lose his faith. No one can serve two masters. God or money. Money is the only thing that Jesus warns us to watch out for because it is on par with God in the sense that it has the potential of enslaving and controlling us like no other idol. A paltry sum of $1,000 compared to the infinite worth of Jesus Christ. It’s unthinkable. But it happened to one of the 12. The same thing can happen to us if we are not careful.
What Mary did stands in stark contrast to what Judas did. You can’t juxtapose two more opposite responses to Jesus–one of considering Jesus to be so worthy, so worthwhile, so worth it that Mary would pour out $25K in an instant and the other of betraying, selling cheaply, murdering the Son of God for $1,000 bucks. You can’t put two more opposing responses side by side.
Jesus praises Mary for her expression of extravagant love. Listen to what he says in Matt 26:13–
13 I assure you: Wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told in memory of her.
Why is this act to be proclaimed wherever the gospel, whenever the life of Jesus is preached? Because Mary demonstrates how all of us should respond to Jesus. The only appropriate response to Jesus is extravagant love. Absolute surrender. Giving our very best. Laying down our idols at the feet of Jesus. Giving it all. Mary gets it. Therefore, wherever and whenever the gospel is preached, Mary’s story will be told alongside the gospel in memory of her.
It doesn’t end there. We have to notice the verse that came right before, v12–
12 By pouring this fragrant oil on My body, she has prepared Me for burial.
It’s awesome to consider what is happening here. Mary, Martha and Lazarus are throwing Jesus a thank you dinner. They were not among the inner circle. They might have heard some sermons from Jesus about his imminent death. But like the 12, they had no idea that the end was so near. To think, Mary’s extravagant act of love to Jesus was more than a thank you dinner. It was much bigger in its spiritual significance. The timing of it was such that her act was a symbolical preparation for Jesus’ actual, physical death and burial.
Sometimes, we think what we do for the Lord is no big deal. We just surrender what he asks to surrender. We sacrifice because he asks us to sacrifice. We serve because there is someone in need. We preach and lead somebody to Christ because that’s what Jesus asks us to do. And we think it ends with our obedience or meeting a need or serving someone and that’s the end of the story. Like Mary, it’s just a thank you dinner. People will eat, Jesus will be touched and go home.
Be encouraged–in Christ, whatever we do may have ripple effects that continue on for eternity. Our surrender, our sacrifice, our obedience today, these things that seem momentary may far outlast the moment. We never know what our obedience today will reap tomorrow or next year or decades from now. Your life and my life matter. Our obedience matters. Even what we think is a small sacrifice or a small act of obedience may be multiplied and the ripple effects could continue for generations to come.
For Mary, she broke the alabaster jar and poured out every last drop of the oil. She did not hold anything back. Every time the gospel is preached, this is the only proper response. Laying down everything else. Pouring out every last drop. Maybe when you first heard the gospel, you had this type of response. Lord, you died for me. I repent of my sins. I lay down my life. I surrender. I give up. I’m tired of leading my own life. I want you to lead now. I trust you. I will follow you all the days of my life. Things were crystal clear when we heard the gospel for the first time and responded.
What about the 10th time you heard the gospel? Or the 100th time? Is your response as radical after the nth time of hearing the gospel as it was the very first time? The same level of thrill and gratitude and amazement and wonder and love expressed from the core of our being. Extravagant love gushing forth from our very souls that we experienced the first time. Is your heart still capable of responding to the gospel in the same extravagant, radical way today?
Growing up, my parents used to tell me, everything in moderation. Too much of a good thing is bad, they said. When I was born again as a sophomore in college and they saw my zeal for Jesus, they told me the same thing. Everything in moderation, even faith in God. I know they meant well and in many cases, this is good advice to follow. Too much food is bad. Eat in moderation. Having fun is good, but too much pleasure seeking can kill you. Generally, this is good advice. But when it comes to God, I have to disagree with them. There is nothing moderate about the Christian life. Weren’t you willing to give up everything when you first accepted Christ into your heart? Has the radical demands of the gospel changed? Or have you and I changed?
If any voice tells you to moderate your love for Jesus, don’t listen. Let your affections for Jesus be lavish. If any voice tempts you to want to be rich monetarily as your highest aim, don’t listen. Jesus is your treasure, and all that money can buy cannot compare to him. In response to the worth of Jesus, Mary’s heart was full of wonder and thankfulness and joy overflowing in lavish demonstrations of affection. And Judas’ heart felt none of that but valued money more than he valued Jesus. Mary loved Jesus. Judas loved money. Mary’s heart corresponded to the treasure that Jesus is. Judas’s heart contradicted the treasure that Jesus is.
When you buy a drink at the movies and they charge you $5 for a coke, you think, what a waste? You can get a case of 24 cans at Costco for that price. It’s a waste because what you are willing to pay and the actual cost doesn’t match. Brothers and sisters, it’s never a waste when we give our all to Jesus because how can our best ever measure up to the infinite worth of Christ?
Mary gets it. Lavish love, extravagant love is the least she can do in light of Jesus raising her brother to life and forgiving her sin and promising the gift of eternal life. Check yourself. Are you grateful for Jesus today? How is your gratitude being expressed? Before talking about ministry and missions and service to others, how is your relationship with Jesus? Is it characterized by this kind of joy and reckless abandon and surrender? Giving Jesus your best because he is totally worth it.
Lastly, consider the fact that this anointing happened in a room full of people who were there for this thank you dinner. Not your usual dinner, but a dinner where 16 ounces, pound of oil were poured out. Even a pinch of perfume is powerful enough to envelop a person with a haze of odorous fragrance for an entire day. Some guys make the mistake of treating cologne like it’s deodarant. They haven’t showered so they spray it on. This is not a pinch, but a pound of perfume. The house must have been filled with the fragrance of the perfume. Heartfelt worship of King Jesus is never merely private. It always spills over onto others—one way or the other. The lavish, heartfelt, sacrificial, grateful display of affection was for Jesus. But, everybody around them must have been blessed. Focus on loving Jesus the best way you can and people around you will take notice. Jesus Is worth it. Let’s love him extravagantly each day the best we can.