Here we see a stark contrast in love. One person’s love came from the heart. The other’s came only for what profited him.
Jesus was in Bethany having dinner at the house of a man named Simon. Lazarus, Mary, and Martha were all there, as were Jesus’ disciples. And at the meal, Mary took some expensive perfume, and poured it on Jesus’ feet and on his head.
Judas’ reaction was immediate.
Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages. (John 12:5)
And apparently, the other disciples chimed in with Judas.
John tells us, however, that Judas’ love and concern for the poor was not genuine. Instead,
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. (John 12:6)
But of Mary, Jesus said,
Leave her alone…Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. I tell you the truth, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.” (Mark 14:6-9)
Judas’ reaction? He went to the chief priests and betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver.
We will always wonder why Judas decided to do this, but I don’t think it was simply because Jesus rebuked him in front of the disciples. I think it went much deeper than that. His love for Jesus (and for others) apparently didn’t go much further than what it benefited him. As treasurer among the disciples, he was happy to give to the poor as long as he could help himself to some of the money himself. And as a disciple, he was happy to follow Jesus as long as it seemed Jesus would become king.
But time and again, Jesus talked not about ruling as Messiah, but of his death. Perhaps frustrated and fed up with this, Judas thought, “Fine, if you want to die, die.” And he went to betray him.
Mary’s love, on the other hand, came from her heart. And unlike Judas, who followed Jesus for what he could get, she loved Jesus enough to give him what was precious to her. I love what John said about what happened when she opened the bottle of perfume. He said,
The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. (John 12:3)
And that’s what our love for Jesus and others should be like. It should permeate the world around us. It should be so evident, that no one can miss it. Some people, like Judas, will criticize us for it. But to Jesus, it’s a sweet smelling aroma.
How about you? Is your love selfish, only interested in what you can gain? Or is it a sweet smelling aroma to Jesus and the world around you?