By Scott Fiddler
The WordJohn 12:3-83 Mary then took a pound of very costly perfume of pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.4 But Judas Iscariot, one of His disciples, who was intending to betray Him, said, 5 “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and given to poor people?” 6 Now he said this, not because he was concerned about the poor, but because he was a thief, and as he had the money box, he used to [steal] what was put into it. 7 Therefore Jesus said, “Let her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of My burial. 8 For you always have the poor with you, but you do not always have Me.”
ExegesisIf you were reading this story for the first time and stopped after verse 6 and guessed what Jesus said or did in response to Judas’ statement, what would you have guessed?
a. Jesus, knowing what was in Judas’s heart and that he had beenstealing, confronted Judas about his true motive and thievery. Then telling Judas that He forgives him and not steal anymore;
b. Jesus, who was humble and loves and cares for the poor, gentlycorrected Mary. Then thanked her for the gesture, but told her the best wayto serve Him was to sell the perfume as Judas suggested, so the proceeds could be used for those who really needed it;
c. Jesus told Judas to leave Mary alone and that while the poor wouldalways be with them they would not always have Jesus around;
d. None of the above.
I think if we are honest with ourselves, most of us would have to admit wewould not have chosen (c). That tells me we don’t know Jesus as well as we think we do.
A number of years ago, people were encouraged to ask the question “Whatwould Jesus do?” to inform their personal conduct. Bracelets were made, trinkets given away, and social hashtags used; “WWJD?” was the question.
It was a great idea, but it presupposed one very important thing: that the person answering the question knew Jesus’ personally and intimately. I don’t mean that the person was merely a born again Christian. You can be born again and not know Jesus very well. Thomas, who spent the better part of three years with Jesus asked Jesus to show them the Father, and Jesus said, “Thomas, have I been with you so long and still you don’t know me.” John 14:9.
The truth is you can know someone very well, a little, or not at all, and being born again doesn’t usher in the full knowledge of who Jesus is. You may know Jesus as your “savior” in the same way you know the person who does your taxes as “the accountant.” We don’t know Jesus any better when we first encounter Him than we do any other person we meet for the first time. Knowing Jesus comes from walking with Him, reading the Bible (because the Bible shows what Jesus said and how He responded in various situations), and praying (communicating with Jesus). It’s very similar to how you get to know anyone. You spend time with them, see how they treat people and respond in various situations, and you communicate with them.
There hasn’t been much good news from the pandemic, but one of the good things for me is that I have had more time to spend in prayer and reading the Bible. Because of the shelter-in-place orders, most of us have the same opportunity. The healthcare workers who are very busy right now and are still going to work in a dangerous environment may not have as much time to spend in the Word and in prayer, but they have the opportunity to walk with Jesus on the front lines of a very dangerous battle. This provides a unique opportunity to grow in their trust of Jesus’ goodness and His sovereignty.
So then, back to our story. What does it say about who Jesus is that He responded the way He did to Judas? When you can answer that question accurately, you will know Jesus better.