This is a very special week, as we remember the Passion of Jesus Christ. Five years ago we looked at some portraits of people related to Jesus and the Cross. I want us to once again look at them and learn.
As I have already written about Mary and her extraordinary gift (February 12) I will not repeat myself. Without knowing it, Mary anointed Jesus for burial.
But there were complaints. When she poured the perfume at the feet of Jesus, Judas and all the other disciples were indignant. “Why this waste?” they asked. “This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor” (Matthew 26:8,9). Nothing we give to Jesus is a waste!
When Mary chose to sit at Jesus feet, Jesus had one word, “It will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:42). When you chose to be in Jesus’ presence, no one can take that away from you. Even as I write these words I feel the sweet presence of my Lord. It’s like what happened when Mary poured her offering on the feet of Jesus, that the whole room was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.
I wish that we this week can “sit” at the feet of Jesus, and that after sitting at His feet we will spread the fragrance of His love all around us.
I’m sure that Mary, as she sat wiping Jesus’ feet with her hair, lovingly kissed those feet that for three years had trodden the dusty roads from Galilee to Judea, and from Judea back to Galilee. That was a humble kiss of devotion to the man who in a short few days would give his life for her. There was another kiss coming, a kiss of betrayal.
The first one to protest at Mary’s expressions of love and generosity was Judas, the man with the money bag, not because he cared about the poor, but because he helped himself to the content.
We think of Judas in horror. How could he betray Jesus? But how many of us can wash our hands in innocence?
Money! Money! Money! That was the word the little boys on the coast of the Pacific mastered with excellence. I was just a kid but I will never forget when our boat anchored at a port and the little boys would swim around it, crying out “Money! Money! Money!” to the travelers. As soon as someone threw some coins in the water they would quickly dive to retrieve them.
Money! Money! Money! From the youngest to the oldest we cannot live without it, but at the same time it can mess up our life big time, and we can be so bound by it that we let freedom elude us.
One of my Cuban friends tells the story about a lady that let freedom escape her, when there still was time for her to leave Cuba after the Castro take-over. She showed my friend some jewels, maybe valued at two hundred dollars, and said, “I cannot leave, because I will not leave these behind!” And she let the opportunity go, tied down by some earthly goods.
Money is NOT the root of all evil; but it is the love of money that is the root of all evil. We need to be free to be generous like Mary, to lavish on our Lord whatever earthly possessions we might have. Not that he needs them; he owns the cattle on a thousand hills (Psalm 50:10); but it’s one way to show our love.
The story that started so well, with the privilege of being one of the chosen Twelve, ended in such disgrace. The thirty silver coins Judas Iscariot was paid for handing Jesus over to the chief priests burnt in his hands. He threw the money in the temple and went and hanged himself.
I wonder what went through Judas’ mind as he approached Jesus to kiss him. Could it be that even at that moment remorse had set in? Oh, but the prospect of owing those silver coins erased all the scenes of his walk with Jesus for three years. One kiss, just one kiss… and he would be rich. He could travel that world! He could do his own thing! That’s when the words pierced him like a sword, “Judas, are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?” (Luke 22:48).
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” –Matthew 6:19-21
God invites us to a generous life.
Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make ALL GRACE ABOUND to you, so that IN ALL THINGS AT ALL TIMES, having ALL THAT YOU NEED, you will abound in every good work… You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God. –2 Corinthians 9:6-11
Judas, Judas… such a tragic end to a life full of promise!
Open your heart to the SON as a flower that seeks the sun. Jesus is the Bright Morning Star, “the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End” (Revelation 22:13). Nothing can compare to his love!
When many of Jesus’ disciples turned back and no longer followed him, Jesus asked the Twelve, “You do not want to leave too, do you?”
Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God.”
Then Jesus replied, “Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil!” (He meant Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot, who, though one of the Twelve, was later to betray him.) (See John 6:66-71).
“Lord, to whom shall we go?” Do not let any “silver coins” distract you to the point of betraying your Savior. Jesus has an abundant life in store for you.
No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived
what God has prepared for those who love him.
1 Corinthians 2:9
Judas, Judas, how could you throw all that away?