Why Waste the Money?

by Steven Chan
17 July 2011

Have you ever wondered why Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus after having been with Jesus throughout His earthly ministry? Whilst it was true that Judas agreed with the chief priests to accept 30 pieces of silver as his reward for betraying Jesus, what caused Judas to turn against Jesus? This is an important question as we are followers or disciples of Christ and it may also be possible for some of us today to turn our back against Jesus for the same reason as Judas.

Let’s consider the account recorded in the Bible concerning the circumstances that led to Judas betraying Jesus:-

Matt 26:6-16: “And when Jesus was in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper, 7 a woman came to Him having an alabaster flask of very costly fragrant oil, and she poured it on His head as He sat at the table. 8 But when His disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, “Why this waste? 9 For this fragrant oil might have been sold for much and given to the poor.” 10 But when Jesus was aware of it, He said to them, “Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a good work for Me. 11 For you have the poor with you always, but Me you do not have always. 12 For in pouring this fragrant oil on My body, she did it for  My  burial. 13 Assuredly, I say to  you,  wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her.”

14 Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests 15 and said, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver Him to you?” And they counted out to him thirty pieces of silver. 16 So from that time he sought opportunity to betray Him.”
The above account tells us that the disciples protested that a woman had “wasted expensive fragrant oil” by pouring it on the head of Jesus, when in their opinion the oil could have been sold for “much money” and the proceeds thereof “given to the poor”. Although Jesus explained to them that the woman had done a good work for Him, it should be noted that immediately thereafter Judas went to the chief priests to discuss how he may betray Jesus. Could it be that Judas was not pleased with what had transpired?

In Mark 14:5, the bible records that “they criticized her sharply.” According to the account in John 12:4-6 it was Judas who made the statement: “Then one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, who would betray Him, said, 5 Why was this fragrant oil not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” 6 This he said, not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the money box; and he used to take what was put in it.”

We need to know that there is a time for everything under the sun: “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven” (Ecc 3:1). Jesus explained to them that they will have opportunities to help the poor but in this particular instance, the woman is anointing Jesus for His burial. We should not fail to honour one at the appropriate opportunity. For instance, those who contributed significantly towards the work of God should be “counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine” (1 Tim 5:17). Unfortunately, we sometimes fail to give the double honor due to those who have worked hard in God’s kingdom because we reason that others are also contributing towards the work! We think we are not showing partiality but effectively we have failed to encourage the ones who should be given double honor as God’s Word requires. Indeed we ought to “rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.”(Rom 12:15)

There will almost be competing requirements for our time and money – and all of them may be good. But we need to determine what would be the most appropriate thing to do at that given time with what we have. In the case of Jesus, He did not seek such anointing all the time although there were a few occasions that this was done for Him. One should not be filled with a sense of dissatisfaction and unhappiness with an act of honour done to person deserving of honor.

More importantly, there is liberty for one to do honour – in this instance the woman chose to honour Jesus with the expensive oil. The disciples could still help the poor but they need not prevent the woman from doing the good that she wants to do for Jesus. Sometimes we expect everyone else to do what we want to do – what we think or feel is the right thing to do! If we feel that way, go ahead and do it but we should not require or demand others to do the same or to criticize their action.

Lets beware of this danger which may cause us later to become dissatisfied and upset and turn our back on Jesus just as Judas did.