This amazing, action-packed chapter opens with a betrayal and ends with one too. In each instance, the heart of one of Jesus’ disciples is exposed and their commitment to Jesus is tested and found wanting in the face of the thing they love more than him.
In the first case, Judas can’t handle what he sees as the waste of the anonymous woman’s expensive perfume. In Judas’ mind this confirms that Jesus hasn’t got his priorities right. There is little doubt that Judas was joining in with the conversation recorded in verses 4 & 5. It’s fascinating to see that their concern is a good one – the needs of the poor – but Jesus reveals that the woman’s expression of worship was appropriate and beautiful at the time. When it comes to honouring Jesus, what would otherwise be wasteful is beautiful. Those of us who are prone to being stingy need to pay very careful attention to this fact. Verse 11, however, reveals that Judas’ concern is not as simple as wanting to help the poor. In the end, though he may have disliked Jesus’ priorities, it was his greater love for money that was his ultimate undoing. Jesus was right, we cannot serve both God and money.
At the end of the chapter there is another betrayal as one of Jesus’ closest friends and disciples, Simon Peter, discovers that despite what he might like to think, he loves his own life too much to be willing to be known as a follower of Jesus. And who of us hasn’t given in to that sin? Jesus clearly explained throughout his ministry that joining his kingdom necessarily means losing your life – see Mark 8:35 for an example. And here at the bitter end, Peter learnt that it was a price he wasn’t willing to pay.
It is SO amazing that we worship a King who WAS willing to pay that same price for us, despite our own very real and very personal betrayals of him.