Perfume and Conspiracy

Matthew 26:1-16

Wednesday of Holy Week is a seemingly quiet day in the middle of Passion Week. We just get a small glimpse into the happenings of the disciples on this day. After a fairly busy couple days, Jesus is resting with his friends in the home of Simon. While here, A woman approaches Jesus and begins pouring her “vey expensive” perfume/ ointment on Him. The disciples respond with anger and decide that the perfume would be better used if it were sold and the money could be given to the poor.

John’s Gospel explains that it was Judas who voiced the disciples’ objection to the woman’s “waste” (John 12:4-5). John then adds that Judas objected because he was a thief. He stole money from the “common fund” that supported Jesus and the disciples and from which they gave to the poor. Judas is greedy. He is easily swayed by the lure of money and when given the choice between serving God or money, Judas has chosen money. He proves you cannot serve two masters--as Jesus taught. “You will hate the one and love the other” (Matt. 6:24)

In contrast, the woman of whom John’s Gospel identifies as Mary of Bethany, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, made a costly sacrifice to express her devotion to Jesus. In a brief moment of extravagant generosity, she illustrates the truth of the parables of the hidden treasure and the pearl of great value (Matt. 13:44-46) and offered a contrast to the rich young ruler (Matt 19:22). Jesus, to her, was more valuable than her personal property or financial security.

We learn that shortly after this, Judas goes to the chief priests and offers to hand over Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. It was greed that led Judas to betray his friend.

On this Wednesday we get two stories that stand in stark contrast to one anther. The women’s extravagant generosity in pouring out her “very expensive ointment” on Jesus  juxtaposes the greed that drove Judas to betray Jesus for thirty pieces of silver. The condition of one’s heart will reveal itself in one’s actions.

We often view Judas as the bad guy in this story. And certainly his actions are not to be heralded or emulated, but I think Judas can be one of the most relatable characters in the gospel story. How often are we trying to serve two masters? How many times have you betrayed Jesus for lesser glories? It’s more often that we like to admit.

Judas’ story ends in tragedy. Recognizing that his greed caused irreparable damage, Judas decides that dying would be better than living, and takes his own life. While Judas’ story ends in tragedy, ours doesn’t have to. Judas walked with Jesus throughout his ministry yet missed out on so much. The thing that Judas didn’t understand was that Jesus came for him too. He died for Judas’ sins as well as ours. That’s the beauty of the gospel. Jesus took the punishment that Judas deserved so that Judas could live like Jesus.  

-Pastor Bryce


Michele S. - March 31st, 2021 at 8:37am

So many fresh insights...SO much to ponder! Thanks Bryce ❣️

Kate - April 3rd, 2021 at 12:04am

Spending time this week imagining what might have happened in Judas’ heart if he’d lived another couple of days to see the Risen Savior. He was never beyond the mercy of God. How many people do I see each day who think they’re beyond God’s grace? I need to go to Walmart without a shopping list...