John 12 starts the week that includes much of Jesus’ most significant teaching, his trial, death and resurrection. Jesus is resolutely and knowingly setting his face to be obedient to his Father’s will. It was a week that tested the love, loyalty and faith of his closest followers. This was a week where only one thing dominated his mind, the mission he left glory for, to bring glory to the Father. John 12.28 Throughout the week opposition intensified. Opposition took various forms, all of them continue in a variety of ways today. Each of them, betray the true heart of the perpetrator. Understanding these various forms of opposition increases our capacity to discern them and respond appropriately.
Judas Iscariot, one of Jesus’ closest disciples with the considerable responsibility of looking after the money asks Jesus a seemingly well intentioned and honourable question. In doing so he also criticized Mary for her humble loving devotion and worship of Jesus. He didn’t mean what he said, he didn’t really think the money should be spent on the poor. He tried to use his position of trust for his own gain, with the intention stealing part of the money for his own use. Any gift to the poor from Jesus and his disciples would have gone through his hands. Jesus understood Mary’s anointing was part of his own preparation for his sacrificial death, divinely inspired. It was part of God’s most momentous act in the history of humankind. He also understood Judas’ motivation and answered him from Deuteronomy 15 which emphasizes the continual presence of the poor but also explains that is a reason to be continually generous not just engage in one off gestures.
7 If anyone is poor among your fellow Israelites in any of the towns of the land that the Lord your God is giving you, do not be hard-hearted or tight-fisted towards them. 8 Rather, be open-handed and freely lend them whatever they need. 9 Be careful not to harbour this wicked thought: ‘The seventh year, the year for cancelling debts, is near,’ so that you do not show ill will towards the needy among your fellow Israelites and give them nothing. They may then appeal to the Lord against you, and you will be found guilty of sin. 10 Give generously to them and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to. 11 There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be open-handed towards your fellow Israelites who are poor and needy in your land. Deuteronomy 15.7-11
What we can learn from this is that opposition to God’s purposes can come from people who are in a position of trust and expressed in words that have superficial credibility. How can we be discerning when this happens? We can apply the same approach that Jesus did, use a well-rounded knowledge of scripture to keep our understanding in balance.
What checks and balances do we as a church have to ensure our church life glories our Lord?
I the Lord of sea and sky