Prepared by Dr. John E. Marshall
Matt. 26:12 (Holman) By pouring this fragrant oil on My body, she has
prepared Me for burial.
Her anointing of Jesus was a coronation for a crown of thorns, and for a throne of wood and nails. She did before Jesus’ death what Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea did after His death. They and the lady showed respect for the body that was mutilated for sins—their sins, your sins, my sins.
I wonder if Matthew wrote this text with remorse. He, along with the other disciples, failed to show respect to Jesus’ body after the crucifixion.
Be grateful Jesus cherished her gift. It encourages us to know He will never overlook, forget, or take for granted what we give to Him, whether it be time, energy, talent, money, and yes our children, which can be extremely hard to do. Jesus cherishes our gifts. Give freely, happily, and quickly. Let’s be like the women who rejoiced, and not like the disciples who regretted.
Matt. 26:13 I assure you: Wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the
whole world, what this woman has done will also be told in
memory of her.
Jesus’ promise has been fulfilled. The fragrance of her gift permeated more than only Simon’s house. It has filled the whole world. The aroma lingered in the room for minutes, but has lasted in history for two millennia. Here we are, centuries later, reading in hundreds of languages what she did.
Jesus, having power to accomplish what He promised, made sure her deed was not a waste. It has helped us all the way down to this very moment.
The pyramids will be gone someday. Monuments to the world’s best generals shall deteriorate. Innumerable heroic events are already buried in oblivion, but not her deed. It is enshrined not in a monument of marble that will fade away, but in “the deathless shrine of Scripture” (Phillips).
Why will her story ever be told? Because Jesus saw in her lavishness a reflection of God’s lavishness. Jesus felt her selfless act reflected what He was about to do. His actions, and the woman’s, were in nature the same.
One drop of His blood could have redeemed us. Why must it all be poured out? To show the abundance of His concern, the sheer extravagance of His love. Similarly, the lady could have used a small amount of expensive oil to anoint Jesus, but she wanted to display the extravagance of her love.
Jesus’ prediction about her deed always being known was contained in a prediction about the future success of the Gospel. What He did on the cross had worldwide ramifications. Jesus died and rose for the whole world, and the benefits of His efforts have been extended to the whole world.
Here and elsewhere, He laid groundwork for the Great Commission. Jesus’ story is for the whole world; our duty is to tell it to the whole world.
Matt. 26:14-15a Then one of the Twelve—the man called Judas
Iscariot—went to the chief priests and said, “What are you
willing to give me if I hand Him over to you?”
After the lady’s beautiful deed, reading this text is like being hit in the face with cold water. Judas was for sure the lady’s foil. His coldhearted greed, stretching out its hands like talons to clutch, made her deed appear even more radiant. She delighted to give, Judas craved to get. Her pleasant deed filled the world with fragrance; Judas’ deed still reeks of death.
In Jewish life, anointing the corpse was the first stage in embalming. Mary’s devotion honored His soon coming death. Judas’ selfishness caused the death. Mary prepared Jesus for the tomb; Judas helped put Him there.
Our Master’s betrayer was among Jesus’ closest acquaintances, one of the Twelve. It seems a contradiction, like saying Julius Caesar was killed by Brutus his friend, or the American colonies were betrayed by Benedict Arnold, an American General, or Uriah was killed by David, God’s beloved.
The question is; why did Judas do this? How can we explain anyone who turns to evil this awful? Maybe Judas could not have verbalized why.
Even we believers sometimes do things we can’t understand. At times we want to do good but don’t; sometimes we don’t want to commit a sin, but do. Christians don’t always find power equal to their will. If believers can experience this much turmoil, what would lost people like Judas experience?
We know Judas was lost; Jesus early on called him a devil (JN 6:70). He could not understand the lady’s generosity. The world has no instruments to quantify the value of our love for Jesus. Clocks measure time, scales measure weight, yardsticks measure distance, and thermometers measure temperature, but unbelievers have no way to measure or appreciate our love for Jesus. When did we last give an offering to Jesus or do for Him a deed of kindness so amazing that a lost person would have been nonplussed by it?
Ultimate reasons for Judas’ treachery may escape us, but we can pinpoint contributing factors that might help keep us from acting similarly.
One, greed. Judas loved money. The chief priests did not approach Judas first; he initiated the financial negotiations with them. He lusted for something the lady gave away; in his opinion it was wasted. Because he was not given a chance to pilfer proceeds the expensive oil could have produced, he felt cheated, and chose to make whatever money he could elsewhere.
We know Judas was greedy because he was a thief (John 12:6). He betrayed his trust as treasurer of the Twelve, and went on to betray his Master. Paul was right; “The love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and by craving it, some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains” (1 Timothy 6:10). Betrayal of Christ, in some form or another, follows the love of money as certainly as night follows day.
Even as hate is heart-murder, be assured lust for money is heart-theft. It was a small step for Judas to cross over from heart-theft to heart-murder.
When deciding whether or not to tithe, give to missions, support church planting, or bless the poor, do we actually think the ultimate issue we face is the money? God is doing well; He owns the cattle on a thousand hills. Always be sure we are holding our money, and it is not holding us.
Two, disillusionment. Judas thought he would rule in a Messianic kingdom if he followed Christ. Judas was attracted not by Jesus’ teaching, beauty, and character, but by His political potential to crush the Romans.
When Jesus began talking of His death, and the crowds soured, Judas decided to bail, to salvage whatever he could from a sinking ship. When he grasped the true nature of Jesus’ ministry, that it entails sacrifice and service, he grew weary of it all. Do we serve Jesus for selfish reasons? Do we seek His face or His hands? Does our religion come down to what He can do for us? The ultimate lesson of Job is not to teach deep truths about suffering, but to teach us it is possible for a person to serve God solely because He is God.
Three, Satanic influence. Judas let his heart be Satan’s headquarters. Satan came and went whenever he wanted to in Judas’ essence. The devil knew he had free passage into Jesus’ inner group by way of Judas’ evil heart.
Never forget; an evil one is chasing us. What Judas did could happen to us. In each of us are the possibilities of the darkest evil, including the sin of treason toward Christ. Some in this worship center right now are headed toward sin–potential thieves, adulterers, etc. It could happen to you or me.
No person reaches the lowest extreme of depravity in a single bound. Judas’ betrayal was at least three years in the making. There is progression in evil. We go there by slow degrees, by paths we all are capable of treading.
Judas was one the disciples’ number, but not one of their nature. Judas knew Jesus’ place of prayer, but did not know the prayer of the place. We who weekly sit in church, are we believers in heart as well as in appearance? In here we talk of prayer and Bible devotion. Do we practice it out there?