After unpacking the sacrificial outpouring of a jar of expensive perfume, valued at one year’s wages, the gospel writer Mark exposes the ‘behind the scenes’ sinfulness of one of Christ’s followers. The contrast couldn’t be more shocking.
The unnamed woman comes with her devotion. She openly honours Jesus Christ and triggers an indignant murmuring in the crowd. Judas Iscariot departs from his devotion and secretly dishonours Christ to the delight of a different crowd, or were some in Simon’s house. Not likely, for Simon ‘the Leper’ had his unclean reputation among those who followed ceremonial ritual.
Mark 14:10-11 “Then Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve, went to the chief priests to betray Jesus to them. They were delighted to hear this and promised to give him money. So he watched for an opportunity to hand him over.”
Judas had read the situation correctly. He had sensed his privileged access to the Master would allow him to occupy a strategic role. He’d quietly make the deal, hand Jesus over and be ‘richer’ for it.
What craftiness from Satan do you see woven into this betrayal? James, in his practical epistle, reminds us that ‘each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.’ John 12:6 exposes the ‘love of money’ which this treasurer lived with as his ‘battleground,’ and the ‘missing funds’ explanation from the common treasury.
The chief priests want access to Jesus. They need to make a strategic move, because He is so popular. Judas wants access to more money. He’s a materialist, who though outwardly ‘one of the Twelve,’ inwardly is following the Enemy rather than following Christ.
Outward appearances can be deceiving. I’ve met my share of meticulously dressed religious people who have manifested evil behaviour. Isn’t it a temptation for all of us–to clean up the ‘outside’ of our lives, while inwardly manifesting a conflicted heart of rebellion. We want to be seen, like Judas, as ‘one of the Twelve,’ but concurrently we’re providing clear evidence that ‘our hearts are deceitful above all things and desperately wicked.’
We need God’s grace, nothing more, nothing less, nothing else. What is grace? As I drove to work yesterday, one radio station offered a chance to win Canadian concert tickets to anyone who would ‘text’ in the word ‘grace.’ As I switched to another channel, I transitioned into an amazing testimony of regeneration as a follower of ‘another’ major world religion finally grasped ‘grace.’ The contrast in the two broadcasts left me pondering the whole concept of God’s undeserved favour made available to sinners through Jesus Christ. ‘This is AMAZING GRACE, This is UNFAILING LOVE, That you would take my place, That you would bear my cross….’ I’m still singing about it today!
We need to be alert to the danger of a love of money. Remember I Timothy 6:10 “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith, and pierce themselves with many griefs.”