by Kiplin Batchelor
“But one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, who would betray Him, said, ‘Why was this fragrant oil not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?’ This he said, not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the money box; and he used to take what was put in it” (John 12:4-6).
Judas said a good thing! Feeding the poor is kind, noble and praiseworthy. Who would not be impressed by such thoughtfulness for the less fortunate in society? To an undiscerning person, Judas is—at this time—a champion of social justice and a lover of the poor. However Jesus, Who always sees much deeper than what worshippers advertise, saw the hidden deceit behind Judas’ beautiful facade. Judas spoke with apparent compassion, but the truth is, while Mary bowed before Jesus in vulnerable and selfless worship, Jesus’ treasurer stood tall in self!
We often don’t think of a worship setting for something like this, but how many times do people say beautiful words that are intended to impress others, so they are perceived to be more than they really are? Judas could have kept silent as a mere observer in the room, but he opened his mouth and revealed his hidden deceit in the midst of worship. He not only wanted money, he wanted to appear good to Jesus and the influential crowd of Pharisees at dinner.
Judas is a humbling reminder that the stench of a wrong motive can be present while the fragrance of worship fills a room; Judas is a timely reminder that a worshipper’s heart can shift from Jesus the Divine treasure and be preoccupied with earthly Roman coins while doing ministry. He is a reminder that one’s proximity to Jesus doesn’t guarantee or equate to intimacy—we can be in the same room with Jesus, but our heart can be a thousand miles away. The difference between Mary and Judas is the difference between impressing people or loving Jesus, and all true worshippers must crossover to loving, if worship is truly worship.
Judas cheapens an opportunity to worship! Although his words may have impressed those who were close enough, it must have been disheartening for Jesus to hear his own inner-circle-follower market a great idea and a lovely self image—yet, all the while concealing theft, misappropriation of funds and betrayal. Unfortunately, Judas missed an incredible moment to join Mary in selfless worship at Jesus’ feet! Instead of being a participant who captures and seizes a moment in extravagant worship, he became a subtle, undermining critic! Like Michal who labeled David’s worshipful dance as undignified, Judas labeled Mary’s worshipful gift as a waste. What led him to think Jesus wasn’t worth a year’s salary? I have come to realize that those who struggle with God’s worth always struggle with worship. These are always the first to criticize and attack those who pour out all at the feet of His Majesty.
What is equally powerful in this story and many others in the Bible is that Jesus is not afraid, offended or incensed at His children displaying varying expressions in worship. The God of simple and quiet reflective moments in silence before Him is also the God of the exuberant and passionate worship. When He told the religious group to leave Mary alone, He allowed her to be unconventional, undignified, unrehearsed and unperturbed by her elitist environment, her terrible past and by the propriety that filled the room. Real worship kills self image, and it must do so, or we will see ourselves more than we see Him when He shows up.
Simon the Pharisee entertained Jesus over a meal, and Judas was distracted, but Mary bypassed all the pretentiousness and superficiality at the dinner and made worship her priority. One man invited Jesus to a meal, but one woman worshipped Him at that meal — there is a big difference! We must go beyond entertaining Jesus in our lovely auditoriums and actually worship without thinking our passionate expressions are too much. Mary saw her opportunity to worship Jesus, and she took it. Will you do the same? Don’t miss out on your opportunity to worship Him!Like what you've read? Receive free email updates from The Voice Online: Subscribe