When it comes to Jesus, there is no middle-ground! Jesus stated this clearly:
“Whoever is not with Me is against Me, and whoever does not gather with Me scatters.” (Matthew 12:30 ESV)
There is a story in the Bible that brings this fact to light more than any other. It is recorded best in the gospel of John. It is the story of Mary and Judas.
Six days before the Passover celebration began, Jesus arrived in Bethany, the home of Lazarus—the man he had raised from the dead. A dinner was prepared in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, and Lazarus was among those who ate with him. Then Mary took a twelve-ounce jar of expensive perfume made from essence of nard (spikenard), and she anointed Jesus’ feet with it, wiping his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance. But Judas Iscariot, the disciple who would soon betray him, said, “That perfume was worth a year’s wages. It should have been sold and the money given to the poor.” 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. Jesus replied, “Leave her alone. She did this in preparation for my burial. You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.” (John 12:1-8 NLT)
This story comes down to this: we have two people who ‘rub shoulders’ with Jesus. Judas was right there beside Jesus for 3 years. Even though Judas was physically close beside Jesus, spiritually he drifted far far away. It was far enough away that he even betrayed Jesus with a kiss. On the other hand, we have Mary, the sister of Lazarus. She only saw Jesus on occasion, whenever He happened to travel through the area. But here is what matters and what was most important. Mary was so close to Jesus spiritually, that she did not even use the spikenard on her dear brother when he had died and was buried. She was saving it to use only on Jesus. It was the most costly and precious possession she owned. Mary’s gesture was an act of pure faith that said to the world, “My LORD and Savior is going to the cross to die.” Mary worshipped Jesus without reservation. She was fully invested. She spared no expense. She knew the significance that Jesus was both LORD and Savior. The result was that Jesus Christ was adequately honored. He was prepared for burial ahead of time, and the whole house was filled with the fragrance – others were blessed by the extravagance of her worship. Spikenard itself was a costly and fragrant ointment used to preserve dead bodies and to cover the stench. We know Mary did not use it on her brother Lazarus because of the comment her sister Martha made:
Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of him who was dead, said to Him, “Lord, by this time there is a stench, for he has been dead four days.” (John 11:39 NKJV)
Now let’s look at Judas. Jesus was not taken by surprise by what Judas was doing behind His back (John 6:70). This is where I find it amazing how Jesus and His love gave Judas one more chance to think about what he was doing by calling him “friend”, just as Judas was in the process of betraying Him:
But Jesus said to him, “Friend, why have you come?” Then they came and laid hands on Jesus and took Him. (Matthew 26:50 NKJV)
I do not know if you ever realized the fact that Jesus washed Judas’ feet at the Last Supper (John 13) only hours before this. You may wonder how could Jesus proceed to wash the feet of the man who would betray Him, leading eventually to His suffering and death? The amazing answer is that Jesus is love personified, love incarnate. He is what love looks like alive and breathing. This is not a mere emotion, but true love. For Him to wash the feet of Judas is powerful. It takes perfect love to do something like that. Through this example Jesus shows us that even our enemies are deserving of our love, not just through our prayers, but through our actions. To touch someone, especially their feet, is an entrance into a certain intimacy which requires love.
So there you have it. Mary loved Jesus so much that she wiped Jesus’ feet with her hair after she anointed them. But with Judas, he allowed Jesus (his Creator who literally was God in the flesh) to wash his feet in perfect love despite the fact of what he was purposing in his heart. Wow!
No matter who you are, or how rotten you have been, Jesus always reaches out in love, regardless. The choice is ours. Will we walk with Jesus physically, but have the true intents of our heart far from Him. Or will we surrender what is most precious to us and draw as close as we can spiritually to Him. Jesus knows the inner most intents of our hearts and can’t be fooled. So examine yourself and don’t allow the true intent of your heart to fool even you. You may be able to fool others. You may even be able to fool yourself. But you can’t fool Jesus!
Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?—unless indeed you are disqualified. (2 Corinthians 13:5 NKJV)
For further reading, check out a previous article I wrote about Mary and Martha entitled: