John 12:3 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 pilfer 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.”
Since Judas is worried about the money, how much money are we talking about here? From several sources it seems 300 denarii is just over $20,000 US or $27,000 Canadian.
It's incredible to observe this scene from afar and note that nothing was what it appeared to be in the moments when it was taking place. Jesus was just a man they hoped might become their warrior king and free them from Roman rule, restoring the great nation as it was under David and Solomon. Mary was a pathetic groupie that needed to keep herself in check. Jesus needed to be better at keeping his distance from her before she ruined his reputation entirely. Judas was the intellectual and financial leader of the disciples, shrewd, bold when he needed to be, and well respected. He came across as a tad insensitive at times but he was just trying to make sure they were staying on mission.
Lazarus was there too, recently rescued from the grave, an uncomfortable situation for the Pharisees because it placed Jesus at a level they couldn't compete with or argue against. For the Sadducees it was a nightmare since they boldly taught there was no life after death. For the rest it was already an uncomfortable situation with predictions of imminent doom hanging over Jesus. It had been quite some time since Jesus had been to Jerusalem because every time He went the rulers tried to kill Him. The air was already heavy with fear and foreboding before Mary even made her scene. Now you could cut the tension in the air with a knife.
Everything she did was "wrong". Her hair was uncovered and down. She might as well have been naked. She should not have been touching him at all, much less the way she was and in the sight of everyone! If she was hoping the dim lighting would hide her movements she clearly didn't think things through. The moment she opened the perfume it saturated the air. Every eye searched to find the source and every eye fell on her. Some like Judas sneered at the waste. Others haughtily disdained the inappropriateness of her actions. Still others tried to decipher the source of her intense emotion and tears. What was happening?
Judas broke the silence. His words fell like honey and vinegar mixed. The vinegar rebuked Mary but they honey made it clear he was only concerned for the poor. Surely they must be more careful with how they spent their limited resources with a whole nation to save!
Jesus could have outed Judas right there. He could have exposed his two faced life and criminal motives. He did not. Jesus knew what I often fail to remember. Love awakens love. If there was any hope for Judas it was through love. Judas was never going to able to say he turned against Jesus because Jesus didn't love him. Jesus loves him and treated him with kindness, respect, and dignity right to the end.
At that moment Jesus had something much more important He wanted to point out. Mary was on the mission. Of all the people in that room, all of whom outranked her religiously, socially, professionally etc... Mary was the only one who was on track with the mission. She was preparing Him for burial.
Don't ever think you have to be somebody to be on track and in step with Jesus. Don't ever let the stares, whispers, and judgements stop you. Let the fragrance of your love for Him fill every room you enter no matter the consequences. The chances are high that those criticizing have motives most would never guess. Their closets are full of skeletons. Better to empty your closet at the feet of Jesus. He understands every year. He reads your motives correctly. Every regret that weighs you down will be lifted and then buried.
Jesus was on a mission. Mary got it. I want to be like Mary.