I read two posts a while ago about kindness and it got me thinking how we may have differing personal views on kindness. This personal view involves our motives and intents—how and why we value kindness and perhaps what we consider as kindness.
A simple story found in three of the four gospels—Matthew, Mark, and John—reveals at least two different views on kindness. It also reveals the heart and character of two people—known for very different reasons.
I’ll give a synopsis of the story below but you can read it for yourself here—Matt 26:6-13; Mark 14:3-9; John 12:2-8.
A story of two hearts
Following the Lord’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem, at the beginning of the week and before the Passover Feast, a woman named Mary comes to anoint Jesus with an expensive ointment as He reclines at a meal given in His honor.
Lazarus, whom Jesus raised from the dead only a short while before this, reclined at the table with Jesus at the home of Simon the leper. Martha, the sister of Lazarus, is busy serving the guests as her sister Mary anoints Jesus with fragrant spikenard.
As the fragrance of the oil filled the room, it prompted a complaint and caused some dissension. Why the complaint? It was seen as a waste of money. Who complained? None other than Judas who would soon betray Jesus—the focus of this act of pure love.
Mary understood who Jesus was and expressed her love and devotion by sitting at the feet of Jesus as her sister Martha served. Once again, her devotion to Jesus caused some dissension. This time with her sister, Martha, who complained to Jesus about her workload because of Mary (Luke 10:38-42).
When Mary poured her oil on Jesus, it was an expression of love, a picture of true worship. It’s as if she poured her soul out to honor Jesus. It was true kindness.
The heart of Judas is also revealed—he was a greedy thief—he cared only for himself not for the poor (John 12:6). His concern had nothing to do with kindness. It was pure selfishness.
What a great contrast he is to Mary—Judas the betrayer and Mary the worshiper.
What a great contrast—Judas the betrayer and Mary the worshiper
Jesus made it clear what was most valuable—
She has done a beautiful thing to me…She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. I tell you the truth, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her. (Mark 14:7, 8-9 NIV84)
Empty praise or a heart full of worship?
Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey to the cheers of the crowd shouting, Hosanna—oh save us—Son of David! It fulfilled an ancient prophecy (Zech 9:9) but was prophetic in its own right (Matt 21:1-11).
The crowd who honored Jesus as He rode into Jerusalem with shouts of triumph would cry out in just a few days, Crucify Him! How quickly things changed this final week of Jesus’ life on earth—from triumph to tragedy.
How could this happen? Why would it happen?
Yes, it was prophesied. And it also exposed the shallow expectations of one of Jesus’ followers and the depth of devotion of another.
Judas was rebuked for his selfish complaint—shamed by his greed and shallow commitment. He was part of the crowd who shouted, Hosanna! And his betrayal set in motion the cruel cries of hardened hearts to crucify the Lord.
Mary’s gift was accepted and honored by Jesus. It would become an enduring testimony of her love for Jesus—an act of worship and a prophetic preparation for the Lord’s burial.
What is of greatest value to you—wealth and good intentions or a heart of devotion?
As people celebrate Holy Week worldwide, many will express their worship and devotion for the Lord. So I ask, what do you have to offer Jesus?
What do you have to offer Jesus?
Empty palm branches and shouts? Or, will you pour your soul out to the Savior of the world?
Here’s another post related to Holy Week you might like to read— It’s Easter Time!