A Jar of Oil & Judas

{ John 12:1-8}

Lent 5

Forgive my tendency to title these meditations. I was  after all, pretty much raised as a Protestant.

 This Sunday’s Gospel finds Our Lord at the home of his good friends Mary & Martha of Bethany. He is on His way to Jerusalem, & I imagine that He is pretty tired from all that walking.  Scripture tells us that a supper was served in Jesus’ honor & that Lazarus, whom He had  literally raised from the dead, was present with the two sisters.  Mary immediately  takes the jar of expensive oil & begins to anoint Jesus’ feet with it. This action does not sit well with Judas Iscariot. He says to Mary:

“Why was this oil not sold for three hundred denerii & the money given to the poor?”

But Christ  replies:

” Leave her alone.”

 Scripture also tells us that Judas’s words do not match his intentions.  Judas had control of the group’s finances & apparently was dishonest & only pretending to  care about those with  nothing so that the money may be pilfered later.

This story can be read in many was, but today I see the character of Judas as someone whom we all both know in our own lives . But more importantly, each and every one of us  has a bit of Judas in us. That is correct: each & every one of us has a piece of Judas burried deep within us. No one likes to be compared to the disciple who betrayed Our Lord.{ I know I don’t!}

There is a song I remember singing in the Presbyterian church  several years ago on a Good Friday which * really* brought to my mind the Judas-nature of  all Christians.  I cannot recall the exact words to the song, but the general gist of the last system  went like this:

It is I, Lord/ It is I  who nailed You to a tree/ It is I I, Lord. 

If we examine our conscious honestly, I bet that we’ll see more of Judas in our deepest self than we would ever admit to anyone else.  I know I am  at times much more like Judas Iscariot than I am like any of the other disciples mentioned in Scripture.  We betray our close friends & even family members by our words & deeds but more importantly, we betray Christ. Sin infects everyone, so perhaps Judas Iscariot is the most ” human” of all the original disciples?

One of my very favorite pslams is Pslam 139, a psalm which tells of God’s ever-loving presence among us. The pslam, at least in the Bible I use, is known as ” the Inescapable God”.

Judas might have fooled Mary, Martha  Lazarus & anyone else who attended that supper party with his false piety but he did not fool God. God knows everything we do  & everything we say  before we do.  Psalm 139 2-4 says:

” You know when I sit down & when I rise up

  you discern my thoughts from far away

 You search out my path & my lying down

and are acquainted with all my ways

Even before a word is on my tongue

O Lord , you know it completely.”

 We sin . God knows we sin, so there is no point in hiding from God.  But the good news is that God loves each of us enough  to seek us out & bring us back from sin. Last week we heard the story of the return of the prodigal son & this  illustrates of the  unconditional love  that God has for God’s people in spite of  our sins.  God loves every part of our nature: even our ” inner Judas”.


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