Mary’s extravagant expression of gratitude towards Jesus was shocking to all except Jesus. He describes her wasteful act as ‘beautiful’ worship. When sharing a message on Mary’s show-stopping actions John Piper describes it like this: ‘It is a beautiful thing when the worth of Jesus and the love of his followers match.’
But for ‘one of the twelve’ it seems like the final nail in the coffin in his journey of infidelity. Almost every time Judas’ name is mentioned in the New Testament we find the author denotes his place as a traitor, thief or betrayer. Matthew when listing the names of the ‘twelve’ earlier in Jesus’ ministry (Matthew 10:4) lists Judas last and names him as a traitor. We must remember however, the authors did not become aware of his treachery until he was challenged by Jesus at another dinner that was still to come – the Last Supper.
It is clear to us, if not to his fellow disciples, Judas left Simon’s house that evening intent on betraying Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. It isn’t certain when the devious deal was done with the religious rulers but, we know it was likely to be after the events of Tuesday night. The cabal, meeting in the High Priest’s house that evening, had decided on what they were going to do but not ‘when’ they were going to do it. It would seem that their meeting with one of Jesus’ inner circle accelerated their plans and unwittingly brought them in line with Old Testament prophecy. The deal had been done, the course set, the price paid but when they met again for ‘the Last Supper’, Judas was there! Close enough to dip his bread in the Saviour’s cup.
Earlier in his ministry, Matthew records a short parable of Jesus where he compares finding the ‘Kingdom of Heaven’ to a man who ‘sold all that he had’ to buy a greater treasure. This merchant found something so exquisite that it far exceeded the sum of all the treasures he owned.
The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it. – Matthew 13:45–46
One enormously valued pearl. So much so he sold everything to buy this one surpassingly great pearl. Judas had spent at least the last 3 years in the company of the prince of heaven, the pearl of greatest price, Jesus. He had listened to his teaching, he was trusted by the master as treasurer for the little band of disciples, he had witnessed the miracles, but had never seen the value. He was willing to sell out Jesus the ‘greatest pearl’ for a tenth of the cost of perfume that he had decided was a waste. In fact, for the price of a slave, gored by an ox, the saviour was sold to his enemies! (Exodus 21:32)
I will let Pastor John Piper sum up what is happening in the hearts of both Mary and Judas:
‘Judas and Mary are contrasts in treasuring. They both had hedonistic motives. Neither acted out of stoic duty. Both pursued the treasure they believed would make them happy. To Mary, Jesus was the priceless Pearl, which she loved more than anything and she spent what was likely her greatest earthly possession to honour him. To Judas, thirty pieces of silver was a fair price for the Pearl. His sin was believing that having money would make him happier than having Christ. O Judas, the tragedy of your value miscalculation! The Pearl worth more than the entire universe sat in front of you and all you could see were perfume puddles. You grieved the squandering of a year’s wages while you squandered infinite, eternal treasure!’
No doubt about it! God you are good— good to good people, good to the good-hearted, good to me.
But I nearly missed it, missed seeing his goodness. I was looking the other way. You’re all I want in heaven! You’re all I want on earth! …I’m in the very presence of God— oh, how refreshing it is! I’ve made you Lord God my home. God, I’m telling the world what you do! Amen!
(Based on a song of Asaph Psalm 73)
More From This Series
View the other Devotionals in our “For the Joy” series