Giver or Taker? | Matthew 26:1-16

Mat 26:1 When Jesus had finished saying all these things, He said to His disciples,Mat 26:2"As you know, Passover begins in two days, and the Son of Man will be handed over to be crucified."Mat 26:3 At that same time the leading priests and elders were meeting at the residence of Caiaphas, the high priest,Mat 26:4 plotting how to capture Jesus secretly and kill Him.Mat 26:5 "But not during the Passover celebration," they agreed, "or the people may riot."Mat 26:6 Meanwhile, Jesus was in Bethany at the home of Simon, a man who had previously had leprosy.Mat 26:7 While He was eating, a woman came in with a beautiful alabaster jar of expensive perfume and poured it over His head.Mat 26:8 The disciples were indignant when they saw this. "What a waste!" they said.Mat 26:9 "It could have been sold for a high price and the money given to the poor."Mat 26:10 But Jesus, aware of this, replied, "Why criticize this woman for doing such a good thing to Me?Mat 26:11You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have Me.Mat 26:12She has poured this perfume on Me to prepare My body for burial.Mat 26:13I tell you the truth, wherever the Good News is preached throughout the world, this woman's deed will be remembered and discussed."

Mat 26:14 Then Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve disciples, went to the leading priestsMat 26:15 and asked, "How much will you pay me to betray Jesus to you?" And they gave him thirty pieces of silver.Mat 26:16 From that time on, Judas began looking for an opportunity to betray Jesus.

Juxtaposition of clean and unclean

While reading this passage I noticed that the author, Matthew, has put two occurrences in the life of Jesus next to each other which may not seem related but I submit that they are.  One is of Mary, seen only as "a woman", in Matthew's version, and the other is of the betrayal of Jesus by Judas for only 30 pieces of silver - the same price one would have paid for a slave in that time. Is it coincidence that Jesus was sold for the price of a slave? I think not.

Php 2:6 Though He was God, He did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Php 2:7 Instead, He gave up His divine privileges; He took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When He appeared in human form, Php 2:8 He humbled Himself in obedience to God and died a criminal's death on a cross.

In the first story Jesus is in the home of a leper he had healed and at the same time Caiaphas, the high priest, is plotting with other "church" leaders to kill Jesus. I think Matthew is asking us to juxtapose these two events and to see the irony in their occurring at the same time. Here Jesus is with a leper that He had touched and healed (something that would have made anyone else unclean} and the highest office in the church is conspiring to murder Jesus for being "unclean" in their eyes. One is thankful for what Jesus has done for him to make him clean, the other is hateful and trying to get rid of Jesus for touching the unclean.

The Giver

Next we have a women enter into the house and pour $60,000 dollars worth  of perfume onto Jesus' head. I say $60,000 because the perfume was worth the equivalent of one year's wages in their time. The disciples are incensed, especially Judas who is the one who controls the money. He feigns concern for the poor and how much could have been done with this amount of money, but inside he is mourning the loss of control and power that money could have given him and his group.

The woman is the giver. She is called Mary in other gospel writings and I believe she is the prostitute that Jesus recently showed amazing grace to. Amazing grace that melted her heart and made her desire to do something, anything, to show her appreciation for that loving grace. Did she consider it enough to give 10%. Was she concerned with how she might get that money back now that she was free from her prostitution? No, she was instead moved to give everything to Jesus. She was moved to honor him fully and to demonstrate her thankfulness by giving Him everything she had that was of value in this world.

What that woman did is an example of how Christ can move our hearts. He can so fill us with a sense of His love and grace, all given while we were yet sinners, that we are moved to give everything we have to Him. What He did for us is an act of true, full, complete, unreserved love...and it often draws out from us, when we let it affect our hearts, acts of unreserved love and worship. I would also submit to you today, that true worship is an action that displays self sacrifice. It is not raising your hands in the air like you just don't care, and singing passionately your favorite praise songs.

The Taker

Judas is the taker, and for a moment the other disciples agree with him. They see all that "money" being wasted by the woman, as she pours it over Jesus' head. They do not see a beautiful act of unreserved love. They are still seeing through eyes that want to gain something of worldly value from Jesus. Here might be some of the thoughts that their current relationship has created...

"When is He ever going to finally raise an army and take out the Romans?"

"I wonder what I can do to show Him how loyal I am to Him and how much I love Him so that He will put me at His right hand"

"Why is that woman in here? Doesn't she know that a woman can never have a place in the Kingdom leadership."

"What is she doing!? Does she hope to gain some advantage over Jesus by showing such adoration? I'll just bring up the obvious fact that she is wasting this resource and could have fed the poor with it and then Jesus will rebuke her."

"Maybe if I turn Him in to the authorities He will be forced to raise an army to defend Himself and we can finally settle once and for all whether I have chosen the right leader."

Judas was a taker. Judas was there to gain something from his relationship with Jesus, and his heart was never melted...self was never dethroned...and he could never truly give his all for Jesus. He was a taker. Are you?

Dear Friends,

Jesus asks for nothing less than everything we have. He wants it all. He wants to cleanse us from top to bottom and He will take nothing less than 100%. And here is the beauty of it all...He gave nothing less than 100% of Himself to us...and He gave it without us having done anything to deserve it. Does that love not move you to give your all?

If you identify with Judas sometimes, don't lose hope..Jesus can change your heart's what He does best. If you identify with Mary, praise the Lord and reaffirm your commitment to give Him your all. He won't let you down. He will complete that good work in you. He is faithful to the end.



Related articles