I’ve always been fascinated by the passage in Matthew 26:6-16, which is also recorded in Mark 14 and John 12. It tells of Mary’s extravagant act of worship, without abandon, without any appearance of seeming ‘sensibilities’: she anoints Jesus with an expensive jar of perfume (‘pure nard’)!
What fascinates me, besides the obvious act of worship, is the reaction of Judas Iscariot to the event. John is the only Gospel to record that it is Judas who raises the objection to this act of worship, “But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it. ” (4-6) Judas finally reveals his true nature and character: he is a wolf among lambs! Both Matthew and Mark describe how Judas, after this event, went to the chief priests and made the deal to betray Jesus for 30 pieces of silver!
There’s no coincidence in the sequence of events here: Judas has been staying (I won’t call him a ‘follower’) with Jesus and the disciples, handling the money as treasurer. However, his heart has never been in it – he hasn’t given his heart to follow Christ. He saw this as an opportunity to get out of this ‘new kingdom’ what he wanted: money. He’s been tagging along, helping himself to the group’s funds as he saw fit, waiting for Christ to finally setup His Kingdom so Judas can really rake in the big bucks! A wolf among sheep – waiting for the right time to pounce on the helpless lambs! And now this – Jesus completely destroys Judas’ hopes of any earthly, wealthy kingdom! How is Jesus going to establish a wealthy treasury if He continues to allow people to waste their money? And especially waste their money by doing such foolish acts, like dumping perfume on His head!!?!!
Judas has had enough: this guy (Jesus) isn’t likely to get Judas rich any time soon, so there must be another way! Aha! Judas recognises an opportunity when he sees it, and goes after the sure thing: he’ll make a deal with the chief priests for some money so at least he gets something out of the last 3 years of waiting!! Reading this passage, I can almost hear Judas’ thinking, “Man, this guy just doesn’t get it. He’s never gonna build up a wealthy kingdom this way. I need to find another way to get my money, cut my losses and get out….”
Judas’ motives and his true heart condition are exposed in John’s recording of this incident. Judas was a wolf among the sheep. Does this mean there will always be wolves among sheep? Well, the parables of the wheat and tares, among others, suggest that this could be true. The question this brings to my heart is this: what about me? Am I a wolf or a sheep? Am I looking to Jesus to get something, or am I following Him because I want to? I believe there are many today who are part of Christian circles solely to further their own agendas – to expert power and control, to gain prestige and accolades, to make money, and a myriad other selfish reasons. Are you one of them?