By David Wells
They were both with Jesus at the same time. That is what we see in Mark 14 and John 12 as Jesus, Judas Iscariot, and Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, find themselves together in Bethany. Not only do you have a coming together of a man and a woman with Jesus, but you also have a juxtaposition of the best and the worst of human values and attitudes. All in the presence of Jesus!
As a colleague of mine reminded me regarding this moment, we see that as Mary lavishly expresses her love to Jesus with her outpouring of perfume and devotion, Judas attempts to sabotage this shared moment of intimacy between Jesus and Mary.
“But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, ‘Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.’ He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it” (John 12:4-6).
Same Lord, same context, different outcomes. The critical difference was the choices Judas and Mary made regarding the inner condition of their spirits and the focus of their attention.
Judas’s spiritual posture was revealed as not being focused on justice, care for the poor, and stewardship. He was a deceptive, demeaning, self-centered thief. Not only was this evidenced by his unjust judgment of Mary, but it was also revealed by his complete devaluation of who Jesus was. His focus had totally moved away from a love of being in the presence of Jesus and learning from Him to his own ambitions, attitudes, and biases. He detached his spirit and mind from the One who could transform him. He immediately chose a path that would destroy him and leave, to this day, the legacy of a betrayer.
“Then Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve, went to the chief priests to betray Jesus to them. They were delighted to hear this and promised to give him money. So he watched for an opportunity to hand him over” (Mark 14:10-11).
Mary, by contrast, chose Jesus as the fixture of her devotion. His presence, words, and affirmation were the focus of her life. She had come to know Jesus as Lord, the resurrection and the life, and the One who practiced genuine righteousness and justice. He was not a pawn to be played in the game of life. In Him she had discovered life—life to the full. She was transformed by her devotion to Him. Jesus stated what Mary’s legacy would be.
“‘Leave her alone,’ said Jesus. ‘Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her,’” (Mark 14:6-9).
Mary and Judas were with Jesus at the same time and place, but the outcomes and legacies of their lives could not be more different. Judas betrayed and sabotaged intimacy, all the while giving the facade of just reasoning. It literally and spiritually killed him. I do not want to be like Judas! It is by having the posture and attitudes of Mary that we will achieve purpose number one in our lives—to be intimate with Jesus and become more and more like Him in spirit and actions.
Please prayerfully ponder how this applies to the moment of time we are in. First and foremost, Jesus is present with us. As we celebrate on Resurrection Sunday, He is risen and He is very present in the world, the church, and our lives and communities. We are surrounded by voices that compete with our Lord’s distinctive voice, agendas that are contrary to His divine agenda, and attitudes and actions that rival Jesus’ spotless character. Jesus is present, but so is Judas. Even the very elect can become convinced of what they think matters, what needs to be said, and what their time and others’ time should be focused on, even as they become more and more removed from being like Jesus.
It is very clear that today’s church needs a lot more Mary moments, the kind of moments that Peter says allow us to be “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Peter 1:3-4). Prayerfully consider the following highlighted characteristics that are desperately needed in Christ followers today, characteristics that will be evident in our lives only as we are immersed in Jesus’ intimate presence and are transformed by His life-giving Word.
“For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self-control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, mutual affection; and to mutual affection, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Peter 1:5-8, emphasis added).
Jesus, we desperately need to be in Your presence right now. We need to be transformed by Your words to us so that our character, thinking, and spirit are marked by the very nature of the Divine One. We do not want to dishonor You.
Lead us by Your Spirit into an intimate place of communion so that we may be effective and fruitful for Your glory. Amen.
About the Author
David Wells is the General Superintendent of The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada (PAOC). He also serves as the president of the Pentecostal Charismatic Churches of North America (PCCNA) and on the executive committee of the Pentecostal World Fellowship. He has served as Canadian chaplain for the Olympic Games, the Pan Am Games, and Commonwealth Games. He and his wife, Susan, live in Burlington, Ontario.
This article appeared in the April/May/June 2021 issue of testimony/Enrich, a quarterly publication of The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada. © 2021 The Pentecostal Assemblies of Canada. Used with permission.