In the presence of the Son of Man, Mary annoints Jesus.
The contrast between Mary and Judas could not be any bolder. Mary extravagantly pours out her love on Jesus. When she uses the expensive pure nard to anoint Jesus’ feet with her hair, she is showing him a love that cannot be measured. The house is lled with the fragrance. I imagine John writing this passage having been in the room, remembering the strong and wonderful smell, remembering how shocked and amazed that they all were. Judas values this perfume at three hundred denarii. This would have been around the equivalent of a full years wages for a worker, or somewhere close to $27,000. In a practical sense, I can’t argue with Judas. The poor could have been fed a lot of food with the money from the perfume. Instead, Jesus praises her act of love, a love that expresses the immense worth that Jesus is to her. To Mary Jesus is worth all that she can give.
On the other hand, we know the story of Judas. John is clear to point out to us when mentioning Judas that he is the one who will betray Judas. Judas doesn’t really care for the poor, he only cares about getting some of the money for himself. We know that in Judas’ story, he also places a value on the person of Jesus. When he betrays Jesus, he receives a payment of 30 pieces of silver. Now scholars are a little mixed on exactly which silver piece this would have been, but they do know that it was eventually used to buy a eld. In Exodus 30 pieces of silver was the price of purchasing a slave. The average estimate value of these coins would have been around $9000.
These monetary values show the contrast in what Jesus was worth to Mary and to Judas. To Mary, Jesus was worth her whole life savings. To Judas he was only worth the price of a slave. Mary extravagantly loved Jesus with all she had, while Judas responds to Jesus with an act of greed and hate.
- Do you find yourself agreeing with Judas? That is a lot of money that could have been used to truly help people. This story is meant to be a bit disturbing. Discuss your feelings on the waste.
- Do you identify with the love that Mary poured out on Jesus? In what ways can you recklessly and sel essly show your love for Him?
- Money is always a touchy subject, especially when it comes to church. Do you feel like the money spent on Jesus is a waste sometimes? How do we balance extravagantly loving Jesus with our money while being responsible to our family and to the poor and unfortunate?
God of suffering and glory,
in Jesus Christ you reveal the way of life through the path of obedience.
Inscribe your law in our hearts,
that in life we may not stray from you, but may be your people. Amen.
Find a way to selflessly and extravagantly pour your love out on Jesus this week.
Refrain from using your money sel shly this week.
Find a way to show love to someone less fortunate you are this week.
Lectionary readings for this week: Isaiah 50:4-9a, Psalm 31:9- 16, Philippians 2:5-11, Mark 14:1-15:47.
Read: Practicing the Way of Jesus: Life Together in the Kingdom of Love by Mark Scandrette
Read: Irresistible Revolution: Living as an Ordinary Radical by Shane Claiborne