By Tyson Thorne

August 14, 2019

John 35 Large

Passover season was upon them again, and most people from outlying regions made their way to Jerusalem for the celebration. As had become a kind of tradition, many looked for Jesus on the streets of the capitol city. This year, however, had a different feel. Everyone knew the Temple rulers had commanded them all to report any sighting of Jesus in the city. Some thought the Savior might stay away, while others scoffed saying, "“What do you think? That he won’t come to the feast?” Of course Jesus would come, its what his followers — and the Pharisees — were counting on.

Six days before Passover (so a few months after raising Lazarus from the dead), Jesus returned to Bethany to visit. Mary, Martha and Lazarus welcomed him, Mary anointing his feet with expensive oil (12.3). But these are not the primary characters in today's reading. These two paragraphs aren't even about the crowds that came to see Jesus and the man who tasted death who yet lives (12.9). These verses aren't even about the Pharisees who see Lazarus as a liability and plan to kill him and Jesus together (12.10). No, they are all about a single man, a man named Judas Iscariot.

Judas greedily eyed the precious oil Mary used on Jesus' feet. He saw her offering as wasteful, and while he openly objected with good intentions (saying the money it could raise should be given to the poor), his true intentions were less than noble. As the treasurer for Jesus and the disciples he had opportunity to skim a bit here and there which, according to John, he frequently did. The oil was fragrant and of an unusual purity known as a pistic nard. As a thief, Judas knew its value. 300 silver coins it would fetch at the market, which is almost a years wages. No doubt it crossed his mind that if Mary had wasted so much wealth on Jesus' feet, she may have more. If she heard what he'd said, perhaps she would part with more and trust him to sell and distribute the funds.

Jesus quashed such wishes, explaining that Mary had done what was right and explaining that there would always be an underclass. His statement appears conversational, but Jesus' words undercut Judas' plan. We're not told, but it probably wasn't the first time Jesus interceded to save someone from being taken. Judas' treachery was hardly complete with thievery, however, as John discloses he would later betray the Son of Man (12.4).

Some wonder if Judas, who would return the money he obtained for betraying Jesus, truly repented and might be in heaven. It is a nice thought, but one without merit. Luke tells us that Satan had entered Judas (Luke 22.3), something he could not have done unless Judas was open to it. Later in John's gospel Jesus prays and tells the Father that none that have been given him have been lost, except the one doomed to destruction (17.12). While called by Jesus to play a part in his death, Judas was never a God fearing man. His fate was sealed long before he met Jesus.

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