If you’ve spent anytime at all around toddlers then you are aware of their own set of rules. I’m sure if toddlers everywhere could have prevented it, they would have tried to stop the publication of those rules. Thankfully, because of the internet, these rules were brought to everyone’s attention.
If it's mine it's mine,
if it's yours it's mine,
if I like it is mine,
if I can take it from you it is mine,
if I am playing with something ALL of the pieces are mine,
if I think it is mine it is,
if I saw it first it's mine,
if I had it then put it down it is still mine,
if you had it then you put it down it is now mine,
if it looks like the one I have at home it is mine,
if it is broken it is yours.
Humorous though they maybe and true for toddlers, likely world wide, the rules are not limited to toddlers alone. Developmental theorists have observed that this stage of developmental can be a place where some people get stuck. In other words, a portion of people in our population arrive at this point morally, and never leave it. Their behavior may not show itself in a 30 year old taking Transformers from a 8 year old but it is there in much more subtle ways. Take a moment, check yourself on this one - when have you wanted what someone else had?
Now take a look at this passage from John 12:1-8
Six days before the Passover Jesus came to Bethany, the home of Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead. There they gave a dinner for him. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those at the table with him. Mary took a pound of costly perfume made of pure nard, anointed Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (the one who was about to betray him), said, ‘Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and the money given to the poor?’ (He said this not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief; he kept the common purse and used to steal what was put into it.) Jesus said, ‘Leave her alone. She bought it so that she might keep it for the day of my burial. You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have me.’
The contrast between Judas and Mary couldn’t be more telling regarding the journey of the glory road, that path which leads to fullness of life in Jesus Christ. John takes Judas to task. Everything about Judas is called in to question and especially as it relates to his character and his motives. Clearly, being “religious” is not at all the same as being faithful to Jesus. Being a disciple, an apostle, does not alleviate a person from the temptation and living out of our selfishness - of refusing to grow up into Christ.
Professor Gary Burge, in examining Judas’ behavior notes, “...care of the poor cannot come before undiluted worship of Christ (12:8); and when the care springs from an impure heart (v.6) its spiritual value evaporates.” Jesus’ words on the matter are clear and pointed at the true, heart of the matter - when it comes to the spiritual life, motivations matter.
Grow up, Jesus seems to say. Paul put it more succinctly when he wrote to the Corinthian church: “When we were children, we thought and reasoned as children do. But when we grew up, we quit our childish ways. (1Cor 13:11 CEV)” It is so easy to look at what Judas did, not examine it and say, “Hey, look Judas is being a good steward! He is right you know, if we took the perfume, I mean, look, we could pay for a new program at the church, we could support a missionary.” And that would be correct BUT...We would miss the soul work that Jesus’ presence in a life is doing. Mary’s extravagant gift, is not wasteful Jesus implies, not when Jesus is present in our midst, not when we are living in humility. If we are trying to understand God by reason alone, then Judas is right, it makes no sense to do what Mary did.
Where does Jesus call us to live life under the direction of toddler’s rules? Where in the gospel, in the New Testament or the Old Testament, are we called to bring less than our very best to God? Paul says worship should be orderly but does he say restrain your passion? Surely we have no problem restraining our love for our sports teams.
Mary is pointed out as one who grew up. Maybe, because she did not travel with Jesus, she came to appreciate so much more his presence when he came through Bethany. She could have said to Jesus, “Mine! Don’t go to Jerusalem! Don’t go to the cross!” She could have, but she did not. She didn’t try to keep Jesus for herself, but for our sake, she gave extravagantly so others could know Jesus, so that you and I could know Jesus. So what is it that you are holding on to in your life? What are you convinced about that is your’s? Are you so full up with stuff you can’t fit Jesus in your life? Are you clinging so tightly to Jesus, you are fearful of sharing him with others?
Are you living like Judas or like Mary? In Judas’ heart, a broken Jesus wouldn’t be of any good. But Mary knew a broken Jesus would be good news for the whole world.