Uncover the deep contrasts among Jesus' disciples, exploring Judas' objection, Mary's devotion, and the balance of worship and social justice.
John 12:4-8 — How Deep Is Your Love? — Aneel Aranha
Hello and welcome to the Bite-Sized Gospel. Today we will reflect on John 12:4-8. Listen.
But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.
“Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. “It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.”
This passage opens a window into contrasting attitudes among the disciples around Jesus. Judas Iscariot's objection to Mary's act of anointing Jesus with expensive perfume is layered with irony and prophetic significance. Judas, known for his dishonesty and impending betrayal, becomes a foil to Mary's genuine devotion. His concern for the poor, though seemingly noble, is revealed as a facade, unmasking a heart that isn’t in tune with Jesus’ mission. This contrast challenges us to reflect on the authenticity of our motivations in serving others and God.
Furthermore, Jesus’ response, "Leave her alone," profoundly endorses Mary's act. It recognizes her insight into Jesus’ impending death and affirms her devotion. This moment highlights the value Jesus places on heartfelt worship and devotion, even over practical or social concerns. It poses a question to us: How do we prioritize our personal devotion to Christ in the midst of practical ministry needs?
Then Jesus says, “You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.” This statement is often misunderstood. Jesus is not dismissing the importance of caring for the poor; rather, he is emphasizing the uniqueness of his physical presence and the significance of that moment in salvation history. It's a reminder that while social justice is crucial, it should not overshadow the central focus of Christian faith – the person and work of Jesus Christ.
Jesus’ mention that the perfume was for burial anointment shows how individual acts of devotion can have profound theological implications. Perhaps unknowingly, Mary is partaking in a ritual that signifies Jesus' upcoming sacrifice for humanity. Her act points not just to Jesus’ physical death but to the larger story of salvation.
This interplay between personal devotion and divine plan invites us to explore how our own acts of faith reflect and contribute to God’s redemptive work in the world. While we do this, we can also reflect on the multifaceted nature of discipleship and the challenges inherent in following Jesus. How do we embrace differing perspectives while staying true to the core message of Christ's teachings?
God bless you.