Jesus or Judas? Thoughts from John 12 and 13
Submitted by Doug Cowan on Thu, 01/08/2015 – 16:29
Some thoughts for the radio program to record for the week of January 11 : dictated on the way to Bakersfield
From John chapter 12 and 13
We can compare the person of our Lord Jesus Christ with the person of Judas Iscariot. What we see in John chapter 12 is that Jesus has raised Lazarus from the dead. Mary, Martha, and Lazarus have a party in honor of Jesus. At this party Lazarus honors Jesus by staying close to him and making him the guest of honor. Martha honors Jesus by cooking the meal for Jesus and for all of the guests that are there.
And Mary honors Jesus by taking her most valuable possession, a jar of precious oil that was worth 300 days wages, breaks it, and anoints and washes Jesus’ feet with this oil and with her tears, and with her hair she dries Jesus’ feet in this beautiful act of worship. John says that the entire house was filled with the fragrance from the oil and from this act of worship.
The one person that we know of that was unaffected by this beautiful worship of Mary was the apostle named Judas Iscariot. Maybe I should call him a disciple and not an apostle. But he was unmoved by this act of worship. He was frustrated by it. He saw as an administrator that other things could have been done with this money besides pouring it on to Jesus’ feet. He wanted that valuable item to have been sold, and the money to of been put into the moneybag.
Tradition tells us that Judas Took a ten percent cut of whatever went in the moneybag as his administrative fee as the treasurer of the group. So the 300 pieces of silver that the ointment was worth would have been 30 pieces of silver for Judas, at least in his mind. So there he was watching his fee go onto Jesus’ feet and then onto the floor. All he could think about was the money. He uses feeding poor people as an excuse, but he really was in it for the money that even working in charity can produce for person. Or in ministry.
I guess it does make me wonder how many people are in ministry for the wrong motives. I could say how many people are in ministry for the money? But for most pastors that would be silly as most pastors are very much underpaid (and often their leadership boards like it that way). I know I was underpaid for years and years in ministry. For some reason the members of my elders board thought that that was a good thing.
Anyway, after this event, we learned that the Pharisees not only wanted to kill Jesus, but that they also wanted to kill Lazarus. They needed to keep the status quo. They needed to be in charge and stay in charge. They needed to keep control. And they were more than willing to sacrifice a life or two in order to keep what they had.
Remember these were religious leaders. These were not the Romans or the local mafia, but religious leaders. And in John chapter 5 Jesus accuses them of knowing and studying the Bible so much that they would never come to him and have life. Even though “the Bible speaks of me,” Jesus says they will not come to him in order to have eternal life. They are too proud. Judas and the Pharisees teamed up. Judas will get his 30 pieces of silver, the Pharisees will arrest Jesus. And we don’t know what happened to Lazarus.
Then the very next thing that we see in the Gospel of John is this: Jesus washes the disciples feet. Even the feet of Judas. Jesus knows that Judas intends to betray him, and yet Jesus washes his feet. He still offers Judas every chance to back out of his deal with the Pharisees, and with Satan. But Judas is a man of this world. Income, money, status, making deals with powerful people, are all more important to him than spiritual things or eternal things.
He had just seen Jesus raise a man from the dead. You would think that he would want Jesus to be on his team. But instead he is willing to betray Jesus for the things that he thinks this world can offer him.
You would think that the Pharisees, aging religious leaders, would want someone who could raise a friend from the dead to be their friend. You would think they would want Jesus on their side. But they do not. They also want the things that this world can offer them. Even though they are the religious leaders of Israel, and they know a lot about the Scriptures, they do not know God. Though they know a lot about God, and they know a lot about God’s word, the law, and the prophets, but they do not have life.
But in the very next paragraph of John’s Gospel we see that Jesus knows “who he is,” and that he was “returning to the father,” and he wanted to show his disciples just how much he loved them. And so he washes their feet. Even the feet of the one who will betray him in just a few hours.
So here’s the question for you and for me. “Who are you more like?”
Are you more like Jesus, willing to serve and love and even wash the feet of one who is just about to betray you?
Or are you more like Judas, and the Pharisees?
Are you more concerned with what this world has to offer you than with spiritual matters? More concerned with what this world has to offer you than finding eternal life in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ?
Where are your true affections? In Jesus? Or in status, money, position, power?
This is a profound question. It is very important that we examine ourselves. It is very easy to fool ourselves. Even A.A. encourages its members to take a “fearless moral inventory”. Certainly this section of the Gospel of John should cause us all to take a fearless moral inventory and really ask ourselves who we are, and where is our heart?
Douglas Cowan, Psy.D., MFT
27400 Oakflat Dr.
Tehachapi, CA 93561