There’s a stunning story to contrast the suffocated heart of the money-loving Judas, a disciple, and the excessive money-spending worship of Mary, a local sinner. Here’s the story in John 12:1–8:
Six days before the Passover, Jesus therefore came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. So they gave a dinner for him there. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at table. Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples, said, “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii [a year’s salary] and given to the poor?” He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it. Jesus said, “Leave her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of my burial. For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.”
John Piper picks up here in his 2011 sermon:
“Judas, let me start by giving you the benefit of the doubt,” Jesus says. “You love the poor? Guess what? For the rest of your life, serve the poor — they are always going to be there. In fact, Judas, you better love the poor. I love the poor. So, you may now feel free with no obstacle from Mary at all to love the poor the rest of your days. Go ahead, Judas.
“But Judas, I know you. You don’t love the poor. And you don’t love me. You love money. In five days you will sell me for 30 pieces of silver.”
Listen, Judas. Listen, Bethlehem. Listen, world. Listen to the apostle Paul. Where did he learn this? Where did Paul learn this?
“We brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith” — O, Judas! — “and pierced themselves with many pangs” (1 Timothy 6:7–10).
The love of money is suicidal. Jesus said it. Paul said it. Judas proved it.
Do you love money? Do you want to be rich? That is what the Bible says. If you want to be rich, you are on a suicidal track.
“Judas, Bethlehem,” Jesus says, “if you can’t see me and my worth, you are going to die and never see me again. You can’t serve two masters. Either you will love the one and hate the other or you will despise the one and be devoted to the other. You can’t serve God and money. You are devoted to money, Judas. You are devoted to money. You get up in the morning, you think money. You go to bed at night, you think money. You open the newspaper and go to the stock page, you think money, money, money, money, money. It is the hope and the god that you have. It is your security. It is your pathway to pleasure. If that is true, you are dead. You are going to die, Judas, and never see me again.”
“But think what Mary could have bought?!” Leave her alone. You are a lover of money, not a lover of me.