There is an amazing encounter of two followers of Jesus in this passage of scripture. Mary is shown at the feet of Jesus pouring out her most precious possession. She is anointing Jesus with (compare Jn. 12) one pound of spikenard valued at approximately one year’s wage. 30,000 dollars worth of perfume, Judas was offended at what he considered excessive displays of affection and wasteful uses of her resources. Judas confronted Mary in anger and posed his famous question, “why this waste?”
Obviously Mary and Judas had different value systems. Mary was focused on the spiritual while Judas was hung up on the natural world. The reason for these different values was found in both of their perceptions of the ministry of Jesus. Spiritual understanding of Jesus and His kingdom comes only by revelation; obviously Judas could not see the spiritual realities that were obvious to Mary.
Mary loved the teachings of Jesus; she loved to hear his word. “Never a man spoke like this man.” To her, He had the words of life and she lived off of every word. To Judas, Jesus had just another opinion; His words open to question and discussion.
Mary also loved the anointing. After Jesus was baptized by John a fresh anointing for ministry had come upon Him. He was known as the anointed one. Today, His anointing is poured out on all flesh but not all flesh appreciated and value His presence. Some people would go anywhere or do anything to sit in His presence, while others can never make time for church, because frankly it is just a waste of valuable time.
Jesus said that Mary was anointing His body for burial. Mary had accepted the painful news of Calvary and began to understand the message of the cross for all of us. She was grateful for the message of redemption, and she was pouring out her love while she could.
Judas had no use for the cross. He wanted an earthly kingdom. When he saw that Jesus was not about politics or power, he was offended and his offense led to betrayal.
In John 17:12 Jesus called Judas the son of destruction using the Greek word apoleia, the same word used for waste in Matthew 26:8. Jesus was saying that Judas was the one wasting his life, choosing to live for this world rather than the one to come.
We have the same conflicts that existed between Mary and Judas in the church today. It all boils down to spiritual revelation which gives birth to our value system today. Why this waste? What are you wasting your life on? If you seek God and His kingdom first, the people of this world may not understand but you have chosen the best part.