When Judas Went Wrong
One of my favorite moments from the New Testament is found in the Gospel of John 12:1-8: the story of Mary anointing Jesus feet in the middle of a dinner party.
This week I thought that I would use the devos each day to examine this passage of Scripture. I don't often do this, but for some reason, I feel like it's right for this week.
Here's the passage:
1 Six days before the Passover, Jesus therefore came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2 So they gave a dinner for him there. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at table. 3 Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. 4 But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, 5 “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” 6 He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it. 7 Jesus said, “Leave her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of my burial. 8 For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.”
What stands out to me from this passage today is the reaction that Judas has to what Mary has done. He looks at the extravagance of her gesture as a waste, even for Jesus' sake.
When Judas tries to mask his disdain with false piety, Jesus sees through the facade and deeper into Judas' own issues, namely the fact that he isn't fully committed to truly following Jesus with all of himself.
I feel like the Christian community is full of Judas' brand of hypocrisy.
The directors of the largest conservative Christian bookstore chain in America routinely ban books and music from Christian authors and musicians who they disagree with and subsequently have ruined the careers of several bright, creative Christian artists and authors.
Not too long ago, I read a blog post from a progressive Christian writer, who actually called into question the Christian faith of people who disagreed with her politics.
When we do this kind of thing in the name of our faith, we're doing it wrong.
A few days ago, I read this awesome quote from Cornelius Plantinga, Jr.:
We get into trouble in the Christian community when we start issuing identical marching orders for all Christians, as each of us must follow Christ in the same way.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that Christians shouldn't call out bad behavior or poor theology that runs counter to the essential message of God's great love that Jesus proclaimed. We should absolutely call one another to faithfulness.
But we need to have some forbearance as well. And we need to pay attention to our own relationship with Jesus to make sure that we aren't pulling a Judas by not being "all in."
May this be true for you in your relationships with those you find yourself in disagreement with. May you find new grace to speak the truth in love, but to above all... simply love.
And may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.