In the past few years I have found myself under attack. It has not been from who I would expect. Without going in to too much detail, I have found myself under attack from people who are supposed to be on the same team. I have found that there are a few out there who seek to destroy for whatever reason and I must say some days the pain of it was crippling. I know some have told me. “Don’t let them see they got to you.” Well, I decided come out and say that yes, they did get to me and I know there are other people in this fight that are in this position. For some reason, we like to be very of critical of one another and for the life of me I don’t get it.
I picked up my Bible on Wednesday and decided I would read from Matthew and I thought to myself, “Why not start with the Easter story?”
Matthew 26:6 caught my attention. “While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of Simon the Leper, 7 a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table.
8 When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. “Why this waste?” they asked. 9 “This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.”
10 Aware of this, Jesus said to them, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 11 The poor you will always have with you,[a] but you will not always have me. 12 When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. 13 Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”
This caught my attention because I knew exactly where this woman was. I could feel the cut of their criticism. I had been there. She had been there to show Jesus she was there to serve. Her heart was in the right place and she was criticized by the very people she was there to honor. While Jesus did defend her, I am sure it still stung that those closest to Jesus were criticizing her. Why would they do that? Why? You know when people who are against you and you know they are against you criticize you, it is not something you really care about. You don’t think about it a lot because you know they are against you.
I would expect that Mayor Wharton and Mayor Strickland aren’t big fans of me or the show and they would most definitely have some negatives to say. But when it comes from those who you are fighting to honor, it truly hurts. So, I knew exactly what this woman must have been feeling and because of that, I wanted to know more about her.
You may or may not know that the gospels tell different accounts of the same story so I turned to Mark. Mark 14 tells this story. “It was now two days before Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread. The leading priests and the teachers of religious law were still looking for an opportunity to capture Jesus secretly and kill him. 2 “But not during the Passover celebration,” they agreed, “or the people may riot.”
3 Meanwhile, Jesus was in Bethany at the home of Simon, a man who had previously had leprosy. While he was eating,[a] a woman came in with a beautiful alabaster jar of expensive perfume made from essence of nard. She broke open the jar and poured the perfume over his head. 4 Some of those at the table were indignant. “Why waste such expensive perfume?” they asked. 5 “It could have been sold for a year’s wages[b] and the money given to the poor!” So they scolded her harshly.6 But Jesus replied, “Leave her alone. Why criticize her for doing such a good thing to me? 7 You will always have the poor among you, and you can help them whenever you want to. But you will not always have me. 8 She has done what she could and has anointed my body for burial ahead of time. 9 I tell you the truth, wherever the Good News is preached throughout the world, this woman’s deed will be remembered and discussed.”
There is a little more information about where they are and it is clear that Jesus is scolding her critics, but why are they so critical of this seemingly good thing? Should he not be honored? Do they not believe he is indeed the Messiah and therefore not deserving of such honor?
John is very detailed and this is where it all comes together for me and this is my AHA moment. Read John 12:1-8
John 12 Six days before the Passover celebration began, Jesus arrived in Bethany, the home of Lazarus—the man he had raised from the dead. 2 A dinner was prepared in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, and Lazarus was among those who ate[a] with him. 3 Then Mary took a twelve-ounce jar[b] of expensive perfume made from essence of nard, and she anointed Jesus’ feet with it, wiping his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance. 4 But Judas Iscariot, the disciple who would soon betray him, said, 5 “That perfume was worth a year’s wages.[c] It should have been sold and the money given to the poor.” 6 Not that he cared for the poor—he was a thief, and since he was in charge of the disciples’ money, he often stole some for himself. 7 Jesus replied, “Leave her alone. She did this in preparation for my burial. 8 You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.”
Did you see it? Her critic was not all of them. The voices seemed loud in Matthew and Mark. It felt like they were ALL being critical and John tells us that it is just one. It was Judas. JUDAS!! Well now that makes a difference given what we know about Judas. He had an agenda. His motive was not to honor Jesus. He was the very one that would deliver Jesus to his death. Judas represents those in my struggle who I thought were one my side and then to find out they were not.
Knowing the critic was Judas lets me know that Jesus was not concerned about Mary’s motive (John let us in on her name) because he knew Judas’s motive. He knew both of their hearts as he knows mine and my critics’. We cannot hide who we are from God. We may be able to fool one another for a time, but the truth is always revealed, just as Judas turned out to be the sole critic and it was his shortcomings that caused his behavior, not Mary’s.
Next time you are faced with criticism that is both unwelcome and troublesome remember that it may not be as bad as you think. It may feel like the entire world is against you but it may just be the one. The voices may be loud but they may not be numerous. Most importantly, God knows your heart and theirs and in time their true motive and heart will be revealed to those who need to see it, including you.
In the meantime, you do what you are called to do. Mary did not let Judas stop her from honoring Jesus. He didn’t distract her from serving as she felt led. I am sure it wasn’t easy, since Judas’s motive had not been revealed to her. Her resolve was solid and because of this Jesus says people would be talking about her in the future……he wasn’t wrong, was he?