The story of Mary anointing Jesus with expensive perfume was the topic of my Sunday School class recently. Mary’s graphic act of devotion to her Savior led Jesus to proclaim that “wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her” (Matthew 26:13). What a privilege it was to participate in the fulfillment of that declaration!
Yet there was a facet of this story that was new to me: the juxtaposition of Mary’s profligate love of Jesus with Judas’ act of betrayal.
Matthew tells us that immediately after witnessing Mary’s act, Judas leaves the room and hikes miles through the mountainous terrain in the middle of the night to find the chief priests. He has had enough of Jesus. “What will you give me if I deliver him over to you?”
What was it about the anointment that sent Judas over the edge to the point that he allowed himself to become Satan’s tool?
The love of money was part of it. The Gospel of John tells us that Judas used to steal from the disciples’ moneybag (John 12:6). Watching an extremely valuable jar of perfume be “wasted” (Matthew 26:8) on anointing Jesus must have felt like a missed opportunity to the thief.
The difference between Mary and Judas points to a deeper issue of which greed is merely a symptom. Watching Mary literally pour out everything she had on Jesus, Judas comes to terms with the fact that Jesus is not the Messiah he wants to worship.
Like so many Jews at the time who rejected Jesus, Judas longed for a political savior who would defeat the Roman occupiers and reestablish the Kingdom of David. He had witnessed Jesus’ acts of supernatural power, yet watched him reject the clamor to become king. Now he was talking about being prepared for burial.
Can you relate to Judas? I can. Each time I come across a difference between what I want and God’s best plan. Have I given myself and everything I have to Jesus, like Mary, or am I only willing to follow Jesus when he’s going where I want to go?
I see the choice in the world all around me, too. When I drive by a church sign bearing an LGBT-affirming rainbow logo, it’s like a blinking neon sign blaring: “We have sold out the Jesus of the Bible for the Messiah we prefer.”
I don’t know what the future holds for Kansas, but I know this: I am fighting to be like Mary. And I’m fighting to ensure that our laws and policies reflect what God has said is true about who we are as human beings and how the world he made is supposed to run.