Matthew 26:1-16; (spring AD 30, Tuesday of Passion Week)
According to the murderers’ schedule in verse five, they were planning to have Jesus killed after many people had gone out of Jerusalem back to their homes in other parts of the country. i.e. they planned to kill Jesus a week later than they did.
What brought forward their schedule was Judas Iscariot volunteering – for the price of four month’s worth of minimum wage – to betray Jesus to them (v.14-16). Given how determined the religious leaders were to kill Jesus, and the amount of time over the years they spent plotting his death, it’s remarkable that they had not approached Judas Iscariot earlier.
He may have been a successful thief for several years but he was certainly very bad at negotiating. The religious leaders were afraid Jesus was going to bring down the whole country, or so they said. They certainly feared that he’d ruin their influence and control over the people, and they had no obvious means of arresting Jesus without their predicted interference by the public – even if the crowds after festival week would be much smaller. All Judas managed to negotiate as the betrayal price was the cost of a low-end slave.
“From then on Judas watched for an opportunity to hand [Jesus] over” (v.16), and it was a mere two days later that he managed it.
In Matthew’s deliberate narrative contrast with the pittance Judas received for betraying the Son of God, the woman in verses six to thirteen was extravagantly generous in her worship of Jesus. Compared to Judas Iscariot, her head knowledge of Jesus was slight, yet it seems her understanding was comparatively profound. She counted financial cost as nothing compared to the privilege of honouring her Saviour, while Judas counted the Saviour nothing compared to the opportunity of financial gain.
So what of us?
None of us are just like the woman with the alabaster jar of expensive perfume.
None of us are Judas Iscariot.
But how often do our priorities and sense of value look more like his than hers?