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185 - Perfume and Payola

More Than Ink / Pastor Jim Catlin & Dorothy Catlin
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March 2, 2024 1:00 pm

185 - Perfume and Payola

More Than Ink / Pastor Jim Catlin & Dorothy Catlin

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March 2, 2024 1:00 pm

Episode 185 - Perfume and Payola (2 Mar 2024) by A Production of Main Street Church of Brigham City

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You pick up your Bible and wonder, is there more here than meets the eye?

Is there anything here for me? I mean, it's just words printed on paper, right? Well, it may look like just print on a page, but it's more than ink. Join us for the next half hour as we explore God's Word together, as we learn how to explore it on our own, as we ask God to meet us there in its pages. Welcome to More Than Ink. Well, here we are at the end of Matthew's Gospel and we're looking at this ugly series of events that ends in the death of Jesus. But in the middle of all that, there's this beautiful moment that Jesus said, this will be remembered everywhere the Gospel is proclaimed in the whole world.

Wow, what is he talking about? Let's find out today on More Than Ink. Well, good morning. I'm Dorothy. And I'm Jim. And we are sitting here at the table, as we always are on a Saturday morning with our coffee. Oh, looks like yours is gone. My mug is empty.

I drank all my coffee. So for the last few weeks, we've been talking about or we've been reading all that Jesus said in answer to the disciples' question. Tell us about what's going to happen at the end of the age.

Yeah, the end of the age. At this point in Matthew's Gospel, all of everything Jesus said about that is finished. And so he picks back up and jumps right back into the narrative. And from here, the beginning of Chapter 26, it is a very quick, action-packed couple of chapters to the end, through the cross, through the resurrection, and to the commissioning of the disciples after.

So suddenly we're done with parables. We're back in the action. Yep, yep. Back in the narrative, back in the conflicts between Jesus and the religious leaders who have already decided some time ago in Matthew's narrative to kill him.

Right, right. And so today they're going to get very serious about that because this is, well, because the timing is coming up. They're coming up on a very important holiday for Israel. One of their feasts is Passover. And you'll see in a second here that they're concerned that whenever violence is taken against Jesus, it doesn't happen during this time.

It actually could be ruinous for the religious leaders because it could actually spawn a rebellion of sorts. And yet, it was on God's calendar that this is exactly the right time. That's right. And it must happen.

That's right. During the Feast of the Passover. But the calendar is kind of forcing their hand, and they've just had enough of Jesus, and so now it's time.

And they've been waiting for a chance to apprehend him in a way that would be the least problem for them in the long run. So let's just see what happens. The plot to kill Jesus, we're in chapter 26 of Matthew, and the action starts to pick up right here in verse one. So verse one, when Jesus had finished all these sayings, he said to his disciples, you know that after two days the Passover is coming. Oh, it's right there.

Right there. Two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified. Okay, we have to stop right there, because it stopped me cold when he said, you know that after two days the Passover is coming. They know the Passover is coming in two days.

That's like really close. And you know that the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified. How would they have known that? Well, Jesus told them.

He had told them that before. But they should have had a little gear turning in their head all this time, if you remember back at the beginning of Jesus' ministry, at the very beginning of John's Gospel, he says that John the Baptist pointed to Jesus and said, there's the Lamb of God who will take away the sin of the world. And the Lamb of God has to die.

Has to die. Right. Okay, so that is a central fixture in the celebration of the Passover.

So maybe our listeners aren't acquainted with this. You can find kind of the detailed account of what that first Passover was like in Exodus 12, 1 to 13. But basically they would take a lamb, any lamb out of the herd, keep it for two weeks, tender it, care for it, feed it, nurture it, it became their own, and then they would slaughter it at a designated time. Take the blood and put it on the doorposts and the lintel.

Mark their house. And God said, when I see the blood, when I bring judgment on all of Egypt, I will pass over you. So I think, I was probably an adult before I realized that that's what Passover means. Passover. That God's judgment passed over the Israelites and their firstborn did not die. Right.

But every firstborn in the land of Egypt did. Yes. So the blood of the lamb is what saved them from the wrath of God. Right. So it's a powerful picture. Boy, we just need to really sit with that picture for a minute. So when Jesus says, Passover is coming and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified, he's saying in Passover code, I am the Lamb of God who will take away the sin of the world.

Yeah. This isn't just a coincidence that's accidental. That Jesus' death is on the same time as they celebrate the death of the perfect lamb to take away their sins. It's meant to be that way. It's meant to be that way. So he'll put two and two together. We said, he told them that they knew what was going to be going on, but what's fascinating is the fact that they did know, but they still got caught by surprise to a certain degree.

It seems really odd. To me, it's the distinction between knowing something and actually believing it. You hear it and you go, yeah, yeah, yeah, I heard that, but something inside of me is not really willing to embrace that.

You know, you heard it, but it went in one ear and out the other. Right, right. And it's not until it happens you go, oh, wait, yeah, I guess that was really going to happen. But we're going to see in a minute somebody who did believe it and who really bit down on it when Jesus said, I'm going to be delivered up to be crucified in a couple of days. Yep, yep. Well, let's push on. Okay. Jesus says, you know what's going to happen.

This is what's going to happen. Verse three, then at that time, the elders and the, oh, wait, the chief priests and the elders of the people gathered in the palace of the high priest, whose name was Caiaphas, and plotted together in order to arrest Jesus by stealth and kill him. But they said, not during the feast, lest there be an uproar among the people, right? Because there's hundreds and thousands of people in Jerusalem for the feast. It's a big public event, and Jesus has this gigantic following. Huge following, yeah. So if there's a big public deal of arresting him, they're going to have a riot on their hands and then they're going to have real trouble. Think of the visible display of the following when he came in on the cult, on the donkey. Just less than a week before. Right, right. I mean, it's a big deal. So the chief priests, the leadership are saying, okay, he's within our reach, but we're going to have to do this kind of under the covers so people don't see what's going on.

We need to kill him. And then, you know, it's funny, I laughed, I shouldn't laugh at verse five, but you know, not during the feast. And that didn't work out too well because, you know, what happened, the timing is exactly what they did not want to have happen. And yet, God's timing always wins. This is God's plan. So that you can put two and two together and you can see that Jesus is the Lamb of God, so well known in Jewish law and in Jewish feasts.

They know what the Lamb of God is, and here Jesus is being crucified at the very same time that they're sacrificing lambs on the Temple Mount. How about that? Isn't that? That's astonishing. It's like, how could you miss it?

Yeah, yeah. They're trying to avoid the uproar among the people because the following is so strong. I might mention one thing really quick that you might be confused if you read the parallel accounts in some of the gospels between the high priests. You know, it mentions the high priest Caiaphas here. Other places it mentions Annas as being the high priest. Annas is his father-in-law. But what most people don't know is Annas was deposed from being a high priest, I think 15 or 16 AD, something like that, and he was deposed by some secular authorities. So many Jews didn't take his deposing as being legitimate. So during the time of Jesus right here, they would look at Annas, the older one, and say, well, he's really the high priest because they kicked him out.

But it wasn't religious guys who kicked him out, so that's not legitimate. And then Caiaphas was put in place, his son-in-law, and Caiaphas is the legitimate one. So many times you'll see this two high priests idea. Luke especially does the equating of the two of them as high priests at the same time.

You'll see it in Luke's gospel, and you'll see it in Luke's narrative in Acts. So that's why you see that confusion. But Caiaphas is the actual recognized high priest. But if you remember, well, no, we'll get to that. Let's go on. Let's go on.

Let's go on. So these guys all gather together at the palace of the high priest, right? And they plot together in order to arrest Jesus and kill him. Right. Okay. What's wrong with this picture? These are the spiritual leaders of the nation of Israel, and they're meeting in secret to hatch a murder plot.

Right, right. These are the ones who claim to know the word of God and dictate to others what God has said. Yeah, but they're convinced Jesus is a phony. They think he's just a populous leader. They don't really think he's the Messiah.

So they see themselves as doing a favor, protecting the people by taking the phony guy out of the picture. Okay. So we know that during this week of Passover that Jesus was in Jerusalem, that he was spending the nights either across the valley in the garden or back in Bethany, which is just a little ways away. So that's where verse six picks up.

Just over the hill. So in verse six, Matthew says, Now when Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, a woman came up to him with an alabaster flask, a very expensive ointment, and she poured it on his head as he reclined at table. And when the disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, Why this waste?

For this could have been sold for a large sum and given to the poor. But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, Why do you trouble her? For she's done a beautiful thing to me.

You always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me. In pouring this ointment on my body, she's done it to prepare me for burial. Truly, I say to you, wherever this Gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her. Wow. Now, this is an interesting story, and there's a lot of cultural touch points that we just don't really get. What's with the oil?

What's with the perfume? What's with the anointing, all of that. So it's helpful if we read the parallel accounts. Right. This is an important one to look at. Mark's account is almost exactly like this one, but John's account gives us some really interesting details. And Mark's account is in chapter 14, in case you want to go check it out. But John's account, chapter 12. Yeah.

So I have it open in front of me. Okay, good. I think we should probably read it, because it gives us details. So Jesus, therefore, six days before the Passover, came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, from whom Jesus had raised from the dead. Oh, that tells us. That's already important information, right? And we know that the religious leadership had already hatched a plot to do away with Lazarus, because they couldn't deal with the fact that Jesus had raised him from the dead.

Okay. So back in John 12, verse two, so they made him a supper there, and Martha was serving, but Lazarus was one of those reclining at the table with him. Mary, therefore, took a pound of very costly perfume of pure nard and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair, and the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.

Now, this is really a first-hand account. This is the Apostle John, closest one to Jesus, recounting this. Verse four, but Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples who was intending to betray him, said, Why was this perfume not sold for 300 denarii and given to poor people? Now he said this, not because he was concerned about the poor, but because he was a thief, and as he had the money box, he used a pilfer what was put into it. Jesus therefore said, Let her alone, in order 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. So the beginning and the end of the story are the same, but those details in the middle. When I was just reading this earlier, it suddenly occurred to me, Jesus had been talking about sheep and goats, and suddenly here we come to this dinner in Bethany, where Mary and Martha and Lazarus are there, and among the people there, we have one of each, we have Mary, a sheep, who believed what he had said, I'm going to die, and she says, I may not have another opportunity to anoint him, here it is. And Judas, acting like a goat, is only interested in what's going to happen to the money. And John, who knew him well, said, you know, he really was interested in pilfering his share of the money box. Yeah, he wasn't interested in using the money for the poor.

That is such important detail. Yeah, exactly. And you think, remember the goats in that other case, they had no interest in the needs of other people.

Right. Judas has no interest in the needs of other people here, he's just using that as an excuse. Yeah, and he really hasn't even been paying attention to what Jesus had said up to this point. He's just interested in making a show of being righteous, but interested in what he can get out of it. Yeah, yeah. It's also interesting to note a couple of small differences between these.

They're not actually differences, they're just more pictures. The alabaster flask in John's gospel is poured on the feet. In Matthew's gospel, we're reading, is on his head. So is that in conflict?

Bible studiers? No, it's both. So when Jesus says that she's anointing my body, it really isn't just his feet. Head to toe. Head to toe, yeah. So when you see conflicts like this, don't jump to the conclusion they're conflicts.

They're not conflicts. Well, and that detail that she wiped his feet with her hair. So no shred of that ointment was going to waste for one thing, but for two, the fragrance filled the house and she was covered with it.

The fragrance of that offering to the person that she loved more than any other that she knew was going to die. Yeah, yeah, exactly. And it says in Matthew's account that they were indignant saying, why this waste?

Well, we know it's not the disciples, it's Judas we're talking about. But it is interesting contrast for some people, they see this as a waste and for other people they see this as worship. Is it worship or is it waste? And the purpose is what's really making... When we talk about worship, we bring our treasures, we bring our expensive things to him in worship.

It's not a waste at all. So the perspective is really a difference in perspective between a sheep and a goat. The same resource for one is a worship, for the other it's a waste. Well, and there's some thinking about that alabaster vial being so costly that it represented Mary's dowry. It represented her future, right? Her future husband, her future life, all that she had to expect in life and she breaks it open and pours it out on Jesus. That is a mind-boggling picture of sacrifice, of saying, it is all invested in you, Lord Jesus.

Yeah, and it is a substantial sacrifice. John wants us to understand that this wasn't just a little dab of perfume behind the ears. This was an extravagantly poured out. John's gospel says it's a pound. I don't know what the equivalent in the New Testament language is, but it's a Roman pound of expensive ointment.

He wants you to know this was extraordinarily costly. This was something, like you said, might have actually been her dowry in a real sense. And Jesus, who knew her heart, said, she's doing this to prepare me for burial.

You guys didn't even register to you that I'm going to die in a couple of days. But she gets it. But she gets it. She gets it. She is preparing me and you guys are still clueless, even though you know what's going to happen.

But you believed him and they had missed it. Yeah, and this was her opportunity. So isn't it interesting that Jesus says, anywhere the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, this thing is going to be remembered about her.

That she poured it all out for Jesus. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. And hey, look, here we are 2,000 years later and we're still talking about 10,000 miles away and we're still talking about it. Well, it's interesting.

Okay. So Matthew, Mark and John all include this exact event in their gospels. Luke includes a similar, but a different event that had taken place earlier in his ministry. But again, it is a woman coming in that time. It is a woman who is known as a prostitute, essentially, who again comes and recognizes the lordship of Jesus in his saving grace.

And she pours out a very expensive ointment oil. That's in Luke 7, if you want to go and read that. And Luke actually gives it a lot of space.

He does. It's almost a whole chapter of Luke 7. So go and read that. But it is not this event. It is a different event, but the parallelism is striking. Yeah. Yeah. Of worship, intimate worship of Jesus in his presence, costly worship. Costly worship and that a woman would be given, featured so prominently in these gospel accounts with this all-encompassing sacrificial devotion. That is significant when the men who were closest to him didn't have a clue yet. Yeah.

Yeah. It's a great scene. And many times when we read the account in one of the other gospels, without reading this account, we miss the fact that the Mary and Martha event at the dinner, Mary is actively worshiping and in a very costly kind of way.

And so we miss that picture. But she is preparing Jesus for burial. Well, and we cannot say Martha was not worshiping. Martha was serving. Right, right. She was serving. She had been taught about surfing properly another time. And Lazarus was there, a guest of honor at the table.

He was reclining at the table with Jesus. Yeah. Yeah. Well, should we go from the sheep to the goat?

Yeah, let's find out what the goat did. Yeah. Yeah. You want to read?

Okay. So we're at verse 14. Verse 14 here, Matthew 26. Well, then one of the 12, whose name was Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, what will you give me if I deliver him over to you? And they paid him 30 pieces of silver. And from that moment, he sought an opportunity to betray him. Yeah. Judas is such a quandary for many of us, because for three years, he's seen some remarkable things at the hands of Jesus.

And you hear everything turns. He hasn't just seen them. He was among the 12 who were sent out to proclaim the gospel and to do healings and to speak in Jesus' name. And he was among them when they did that, casting out demons, and came back crowing with the rest of them. I mean, he had a whole experience. He was in the boat when he saw Jesus steal the waves. Yes.

Yeah. So at this point in the story, many times people's imaginations start to go, so what would change his mind? I mean, why such a, not necessarily, well, maybe not change his mind, but why do this after he's experienced what the rest of the apostles have experienced?

And you can speculate all you want about this. I mean, one interesting speculation about Judas, it says Judas is scariot. And that means literally he's from Kiriath, which is a Judean village that's to the south, which makes Judas the only Judean in the apostles. So a lot of people have speculated, because they're all Galileans, they're all from the north. So the speculation is, well, maybe he was kind of sore at the fact that the other Galilean guys, the crude fishermen, seemed to be in more favor with Jesus than himself. Because after all, he's a Judean, that's the more pure Jew. The Galileans are kind of hicks.

Stuff like that. Well, that's one idea, but there's another thought out there, and that is that Judas were told early in the accounts that he was a zealot. So he was a member of a specific political party that was after claiming, reclaiming the kingdom, and they were expecting the Messiah, and they were gonna make it happen. And by force. They were expecting the Messiah to do it by force. And so there is some thinking that Judas, by seeking to betray Jesus, he was looking for a way to force his hand. Force his hand.

Because he could see the writing on the wall, oh, this Jesus is not, he didn't come into town a week ago and claim the kingdom. He's wasting his time healing people and telling stories. So we need to push him along a little bit.

We need to force his hand so that he can actually start flexing his muscles with the religious leaders. Yeah. So that's not a bad, that's not a bad guess. It's an interesting kind of insight into what Judas may have been thinking, we don't know. We don't know.

We can speculate about this all day. But it is a fascinating thing that for someone who has seen and experienced the same thing the other apostles had, his heart was against Jesus. And so it reminds me of that passage, Jesus talks about the rich man and Lazarus after they die and the rich man saying, you know, why don't you send an emissary back and warn my brothers.

Tell them what's going on here. And Jesus says, look, even if they see someone come back from the dead, it won't change their mind. And in a sense, that's what he's saying here. Even though Judas himself saw remarkable things, he saw people come back from the dead. And that Jesus had done it, his hands. Even if he sees all that stuff, there's something about the heart that even facing that kind of incontrovertible fact, the willingness of the heart digs in its heels and says, no, I will not believe.

And that to us is just astonishing. Well, I'm not sure that it was that kind of unbelief. I'm thinking he was convinced that Jesus was the Messiah, but he was the political Messiah who was going to bring in the kingdom and change everything and they were suddenly going to be the guys on top. And when he saw that that was not happening, then he took steps to make sure that Jesus would be put in a place where he could call down 10,000 legions of angels, as he says a little while from this in the garden, that Judas was very intent on making that happen. So he was pursuing his own purposes, not God's purposes. He's clearly not thinking about being saved from his sin or redeemed from his slavery to self.

No. And I kind of soft pedal the idea that he still believed he was the powerful Messiah because after all, his heart's pretty apparent here. He goes and says, what will you pay me? The greed factor is still gigantic here. And in previous accounts in this gospel and the other ones, we get a pretty full picture that Judas was all about the money. Well, that's true.

So it could just be as crude as the fact that Judas sees things going not the way he had hoped or expected, maybe from the Messianic period, and then he says, I can salvage this affair. I might as well go look out for myself and make some cash off this. Or I can, yeah, I can make some cash out of this because I know Jesus can take care of himself. Right. He raised the dead. Right.

He'll get out of this somehow. I don't know that he actually expected them to follow through with the crucifixion. Yeah, I don't think he did.

Which is why he goes out and kills himself later. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. We follow.

That makes sense. We follow up his trail and his regret is enormous. Just enormous. Things did not go the way he thought they would. The role he played is not what he wanted to have played.

I mean, everything did not go according to his plans, clearly, because his regret is so huge. Wow. Yeah. The whole Judas thing just blows our minds. Well, we're not done with Judas.

We're going to see him again in a little bit, but this is where he is unmasked. Yeah. Yeah.

That's totally true. He goes off looking for silver and he gets it. And he gets it. Yeah. Well, you know, next time we're going to come back.

The story proceeds. We're going to move right into the Last Supper, which we know so much about. By the way, Judas is there at the Last Supper. Yeah.

Yeah. A very dramatic event happens while he's there. The story continues on and it seems to go from bad to worse, but you have to remember as we look at the story of the crucifixion of Jesus, nothing is an accident. Nothing is unplanned by God. Everything is going actually according to plan.

And the Son of Man, who is indeed the King, who prepared a place for us from the beginning of the universe, is the one who will voluntarily, voluntarily sacrifice himself and make such a public statement about the fact that he is the true Lamb of God, because this happens right on Passover. So the events are very familiar to us, but as we come back and continue to look at the events, especially the upper room events, don't be jaded by the fact that you know this so well. It's so familiar. Yeah. I mean, you need to put yourself in the narrative. You need to look around.

You need to experience it as if you've never read it before, as we see the Son of Man voluntarily put himself in harm's way to be crucified. Yeah. Any closing words? Nope.

I've got nothing to add to that. It's the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Yeah.

Yeah. And after such large statements before about his coming back, as like lightning from the east to the west, here's the King, who now will allow himself to be taken. So come back and join us as we see this in Matthew 26 here on More Than Ink. There are many more episodes of this broadcast to be found at our website, More Than Ink. And while you are there, take a moment to drop us a note. Remember, the Bible is God's love letter to you.

Pick it up and read it for yourself, and you will discover that the words printed there are indeed more than ink. Are you ready? I am. Okay. In three, two, one. This has been a production of Main Street Church of Rhythm City.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-03-02 14:13:15 / 2024-03-02 14:25:24 / 12

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