As young boys, my brothers and I ran a restaurant. It only operated for one meal and it was so exclusive that it had only two guests—our parents. One day we decided to honor our parents, and so we created a seafood restaurant on our back porch. I don’t remember what it was called, but it probably had a cute name like, “Under the Three” (a combination of the song from the Little Mermaid and us three boys) or maybe “JM’s C-food” (the first letters of our names). Whatever the title, you can bet we made a sign out of poster board and wrote the name on paper placemats. We served fish sticks and played romantic music and hung towels on our forearms like real waiters. And our parents loved it, this dinner we threw in their honor.
The book of John talks about a dinner that is thrown in Jesus’ honor, although I doubt he got paper placemats. The twelve disciples are there along with friends, and of course the guest of honor Jesus. They’re reclining at the table when all of a sudden, one of the friends named Mary pulls out a bottle of perfume called spikenard. This perfume is very expensive and today would cost about $300-400. Mary pours the spikenard on Jesus’ feet, and then wipes his feet with her hair. The scent is so thick that it fills the house.
One of the disciples, Judas, objects to the act. As the keeper of the group’s money bag, he thinks this is a major waste of money. If Mary had just given the bottle—intact—to Jesus, then it could have been sold and the money used for a proper purpose, instead of being spilled on feet and floor. I mean, isn’t this dinner enough honor for Jesus? He is already the guest of honor. Does he really need such an extravagant display?
One thing about Judas—he’s greedy. He’s stealing money from the group’s money bag. Whenever he wants, he helps himself to the group’s money, spending it on himself. Had the spikenard been sold for its worth, Judas would have pocketed that money, not used it for a special purpose as Mary might have intended. And so catch this: because of greed, Judas objects to Jesus’ extravagant honor.
We’re not far from Judas. We might assign Jesus a certain place of honor, but should that place be extended—require sacrifice or become costly—then it seems too extravagant. It’s like we’ll grant Jesus a measure of honor, but should he ask for more, we decide it’s too much. Then we object. Because it costs too much.
One thing about us—we’re greedy.