Does your religiosity prevent your generosity?
Jesus was nearing the end of his ministry. And his life. The religious leaders of the day were mad at Jesus. He’d challenged them, made them look bad, and made them uncomfortable.
But still he had his followers, and in Bethany, the town where he raised Lazarus from the dead, a dinner was held in his honor. His friend Martha served the meal, and Lazarus, by now a local celebrity—the man raised from the dead—sat at the table with Jesus.
In the midst of these festivities, Mary took a pint of perfume and poured it on the feet of Jesus. And she wiped his feet with her hair. Not surprisingly, the Bible records that the room was filled with the fragrance.
16 ounces of perfume. That’s a lot. And in those days, perfume was valuable.
In fact, Judas, the one who betrays Jesus, and does his own calculation. “That perfume was worth a year’s wages,” he proclaims. Judas piously goes on, “We could’ve sold it, and given the money to the poor.”
In truth, we know that Judas was not motivated by generosity. He was a faker. A pretender. He was the seed that fell among the thorns and got choked by the worries, riches and pleasures of this life. He was religious. He could hang out with the other disciples and put on a good show, and no one really knew he was faking it.
His religiosity prevented his generosity.
Mary loved Jesus. She was devoted to him. He’d shown compassion and grace to her and her family. She must’ve sensed the end was near. Tensions were high. So in the custom of the day, she set out to wash his dusty feet with 16 ounces of perfume.
Extravagant. But that’s what generosity looks like in the face of grace so bold enough to save the undeserving.
So I pause.
Am I more like Judas? Or am I more like Mary?
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Published September 28, 2022