Sunday, September 11, 2016

Jesus our Treasure

From "Narrative Criticism of the New Testament" by James L. Ressseguie:
"The setting is Mary's anointing of Jesus in Lazarus's house. She pours a costly perfume on Jesus' feet and wipes them with her hair, a symbolic act that prefigures Jesus' preparation for death and burial. Judas, however, misses the symbolism and sees only waste: 'Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?' Since a character's first words in a narrative are usually important, a comparison of Judas's speech with the first words of the other disciples is instructive for our understanding of Judas's characterization:
  • Two of John's disciples: 'Rabbi . . . where are you staying?' (John 1:38)
  • Andrew: 'We have found the Messiah' (John 1:41).
  • Philip: 'We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth' (John 1:45).
  • Nathanael: 'Can anything good come out of Nazareth? . . . You are the Son of God . . . the King of Israel' (John 1:46, 49).
  • Peter: 'We have come to believe and know that you are the Holy One of God' (John 6:69).
  • Thomas: 'Let us also go, that we may die with him' (John 11:16).
The first words of the other disciples are lofty confessions of faith, or a willingness to die with Jesus in Judea (Thomas), or a desire to abide (i.e., stay or remain) with Jesus (the 'two disciples'). By contrast, Judas is indignant that an expensive perfume---worth a year's wages---has been wasted on Jesus rather than lavished on the poor. While other disciples anoint Jesus with extravagant titles and confessions of faith, Judas's response is niggardly. No title or confession of faith flows from his lips, only a complaint that the anointing is a waste."
What do we treasure? Is it the state or Jesus? Is it the poor or Jesus? Is it self or Jesus? Is it family of Jesus? Is it possessions or Jesus? Is it our pleasure or Jesus? Our words are probably a good indicator of what we truly value.

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