Satan love to play with our minds. He walks like believers, talks like believers, and often is beside believers as we do ministry inside and outside God’s church. Why? So he can change our thinking about what is most important in sly, nonchalant, unnoticeable ways.
Paul tells the church in Corinth, “Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants also masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve.” This battle is daily for all believers. When we succumb to this battle, the Deceiver wins, but only for a little while.
How does the Liar and Deceiver do it?
He weaves deceit and selfish ideas into the ministry that began as a work for God and His glory. Notice in this passage that ALL the disciples were, at first, indignant of the woman who broke the neck of the alabaster jar of very expensive perfume. ““Why this waste?” Their thoughts turned from Mary’s beautiful act of worship of Jesus to thoughts of waste for their ministry. Jesus is the object of all we are before all we do. Hold that thought.
When Jesus explained Mary’s heart, only Judas turned his eyes from the beauty of worship of Jesus, to where Satan was leading him—deadly betrayal. Judas had two choices. He chose betrayal because he wanted a revolutionary Messiah. Jesus was not who he wanted him to be for his agenda.
Jesus Anointed at Bethany
6 While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of Simon the Leper, 7 a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table.
8 When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. “Why this waste?” they asked. 9 “This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.”
10 Aware of this, Jesus said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 11 The poor you will always have with you,[a] but you will not always have me. 12 When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. 13 Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”
Judas Agrees to Betray Jesus
14 Then one of the Twelve—the one called Judas Iscariot—went to the chief priests 15 and asked, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver him over to you?” So they counted out for him thirty pieces of silver. 16 From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand him over.
POINTS TO PONDER
Jesus did not criticize the disciples because they were concerned about the poor. He was concerned about the poor, and we should be too. He was cautioning them against missing their opportunity to worship Him. They would always have opportunities to help the poor. But they would not always have the opportunity to worship at His feet and prepare Him for burial.
The disciples did not know the true character of Judas. His criticism of Mary sounded so “spiritual” that they joined him in attacking her. We know the real reason Judas wanted the ointment sold: The money would go into the treasury and he would be able to use it (John 12:6).
Judas is a tragic figure. He was called to be one of Christ’s disciples and was named an apostle along with the others (Mark 3:13–19). He received power to heal (Matt. 10:1–4), and he probably used this power. It is not the power to do miracles that is proof of salvation (Matt. 7:21–29), but obedience to God’s Word.
While we can never fully understand the mind and heart of Judas, we do know that he had every opportunity to be saved. He was often warned by Jesus in the Upper Room, Jesus even washed Judas’ feet. Probably, Judas saw in Jesus the hope for Israel’s political freedom. If Jesus established His kingdom, Judas, as treasurer, would have had an important position. When Jesus repeatedly refused to become a political Messiah, Judas turned against Him. Satan found a willing tool in Judas. Satan put the ideas into Judas’s mind (John 13:2) and then entered into Judas to use him to betray Jesus to the enemy (John 13:27).
Judas’s life is a warning to those who pretend to serve Christ but whose hearts are far from God. He is also a warning to those who waste their opportunities and their lives. “Why this waste?” asked Judas when he saw that expensive ointment poured out on Jesus. Yet Judas wasted his opportunities, his life, and his soul! Jesus called him “son of perdition” (John 17:12) which literally means “son of waste.”
THE BEAUTY OF WORSHIP
Only John identifies this woman as Mary, sister of Martha and Lazarus. She is found only three times in the Gospels, and in each instance, she is at the feet of Jesus. She sat at His feet and listened to the Word (Luke 10:38–42); she came to His feet in sorrow after the death of Lazarus (John 11:28–32); and she worshipped at His feet when she anointed Him with the ointment (John 12:1ff.). Mary was a deeply spiritual woman. She found at His feet her blessing, she brought to His feet her burdens, and she gave at His feet her best. It was an act of love and devotion in worship of Jesus.
Because she had listened to His word, Mary knew that soon Jesus would die and be buried. Instead of anointing His body AFTER His death, she did so BEFORE His death. It was an act of faith and love. This was her act of worship of Jesus before, during and after his ministry and mission from God to save the world. We can learn a lot from Mary!
Notice that every time Mary sought to do something for Jesus, she was misunderstood. Her sister Martha misunderstood her when Mary sat at Jesus’ feet to hear Him teach the Word. Judas and the other disciples misunderstood her when she anointed Jesus. Her friends and neighbors misunderstood her when she came out of the house to meet Jesus after Lazarus had been buried (John 11:28–31). When we give Jesus Christ first place in our lives, we can expect to be misunderstood and criticized by those who claim to follow Him.
As believers, Jesus is our Messiah, Savior and Lord! At the beginning of anything done for God, is being with Jesus. At the center of ministry is our love for Jesus because of His love for us, asking what He wants from us. At the end of any ministry task, done in Jesus Name, is glory to God with thanksgiving for being invited to His work. It’s all about Jesus working in and through us to reconcile people to God. This is our worship to God.
“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.” Romans 12:1, NIV
Thank you. Thank you for saving my soul. Thank you for giving us your examples of true worship of beauty through simple obedience. You always know what is best for us so that’s why all our trust and hope is in You. I love you, Lord, with all that I am and all that I have, heart, mind and soul. Continue to be my strength, joy, peace. Help me to walk humbly, show mercy and love like you love me.
In Jesus Name, Amen