Jesus also, that he might sanctify the people with his own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore, let us go forth to him outside the camp, bearing his reproach. For we have no continuing city here, but we seek one to come.
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From stories in Matthew 26 and John 12
In John 12 we are told that in the village of Bethany, where Lazarus, who was raised from the dead lived, a supper was served, Jesus being the guest of honor. It was six days before the Passover, five days before Jesus would die on the cross. The revived Lazarus reclined at the table with Jesus and others while his sister Martha served them. As they ate, Lazarus’ other sister, Mary, brought out a pound of very expensive ointment and anointed Jesus’ tired feet with it, wiping his feet with her long hair. The sweet odor filled the house.
One of Jesus’ disciples, Judas Iscariot, made a show of being indignant at this “waste” of expensive ointment and sharply rebuked the humble lady before everyone there. “Why was this oil not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” But Judas was not truly indignant at what Mary had done to Jesus; he was angry for an entirely different, and secret reason. John explains: “[Judas] said this not because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; he carried the money box and stole from what was put into it.”
Now Judas certainly appeared to be justified in his displeasure. Israel’s ancient prophets had spoken often and forcefully about the necessity of helping the poor. So, to those lacking in spiritual discernment, Mary’s deed could be made to seem wasteful. It is remarkable how quickly slanderers can seize upon a particular moment and do and say just the right thing to appear especially holy and wise to those around them. But they can do this only because Satan inspires them with wisdom beyond themselves. That master of lies knows exactly when someone under his influence can seize upon an opportunity to make himself appear to be more righteous than the ones who are over him in the Lord.
At this precise moment in the gospels, to most of the people at that supper in Bethany, including Jesus’ own disciples, Judas appeared to be more righteous and compassionate than Jesus himself. After all, one might have asked, where was Jesus’ concern for the poor as Mary poured this very expensive oil over his weary feet? Her very deep love for Jesus passed all earthly understanding and motivated her to make this sacrifice. Judas’ invisible love of money motivated his “righteous indignation”, and few if any of the guests gathered around the table saw through his lie.
In response to Judas’ rebuke of Mary, Jesus rose to her defense. “Leave her alone. She has kept this for the time of my burial; you always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.”
Judas made no reply . . . to Jesus. By all appearances, he humbled himself to the Master’s reproof. But an appearance of submission is all there was in him. His heart was not moved to repent of his evil thoughts, and over the next three days, he was to reach the height of his influence over his fellow disciples.
Tomorrow: The disciples fall into the Slanderer’s trap, but Jesus rescues them.