Session 4: How Money Affects our Worship
Scripture Reading: Matthew 25:1-26:16
"When Jesus had finished all these sayings, he said to his disciples, “You know that after two days the Passover is coming, and the Son of Man will be delivered up to be crucified.”
Then 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.”
Now when Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, a woman came up to him with an alabaster flask of 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 the woman? For she has done a beautiful thing to me. For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me. In pouring this ointment on my body, she has 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.”
Then one of the twelve, 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 thirty pieces of silver. And from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray him.
- Matthew 26:1-13
It has been an eventful few days in Jerusalem. If you didn’t know Jesus before Passover Week in 33AD, you did now. Caiaphas, the high priest, held council with many of the religious leaders in order to find a way to stop this “mischief” that Jesus was up to. But as politics go, the Sanhedrin had the people to worry about as they seemed to love this man named Jesus who had come to save them.
At some point in the day Jesus was eating and enjoying the company of those around him when an unexpected visitor came in, broke a jar of ointment, and poured it upon the feet of Jesus. It turns out that this was also, “a woman of the city, who was a sinner.” The Pharisees use this to diminish Jesus’s credibility saying, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.” We can infer through this statement that the sin she had was ugly and unclean. Yet Jesus looks at her and says, ““Your sins are forgiven.”
When an individual gets serious about loving people like Jesus loved people he or she will eventually run into some who are not “your type” of people that you would want to minister to. When this does happen we have this picture of Jesus to show us how to respond.
When we live alongside people who sin, people living in darkness and we decide to be a light, there will be those who see and want what light is within. Whenever this occurs, will we receive the sin riddled neighbor or try and keep our hands clean? Jesus was about washing sins away which required him to encounter sinful people who needed washing.
Those around Jesus didn’t understand why Jesus would love this woman. They also didn’t understand why he was okay with her wasting so much money to show her love for him.
It is said that this alabaster jar of ointment would be valued at a years wages! Judas comments, “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” His question seems reasonable on the surface, yet the very next verse shows us that he did not truly care for the poor, only the money.
Jesus allowing this sinful woman anoint him earned him a load of critiques from the ritually religious. Likewise, when we become people who reach into dark places, hang around people struggling with sin, and love those who are not “holy” enough you will fill the bleachers with critiques. These critiques might even want to try and destroy those who make strides to reach sinners. Judas himself will be lead to betray Jesus because he disagreed with whom Jesus loved.
We need more people in the church who will give their money, not as a means of an investment, but simply out of our appreciation and gratefulness for Jesus’ life given for us. Once that jar cracked and the oil flowed the woman couldn’t get any of it back. All that it ever could be was a testimony to her love for Jesus. Is that how you drop your money in the offering plate?
When we start to love Jesus in this way, then we can join in with the sinful woman’s testimony, “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.”
Let us not be like Judas who saw this act of love toward Jesus and was moved to destroy Jesus because of his love for money. Let us realize the danger of prosperity and see the manner of love in how we should we give our money to the local church.
Talk about it
Discuss the importance of managing your own finances. How do you use your finances as a way to worship God?
a. (This is specific to you. If you are doing this devotion with children it would be a great opportunity to share why you tithe as a follower of Jesus. Use the example of a dollar and a dime to show what a "tenth" looks like. This is what we give to God as an act of worship.)
Discuss together the difference in how Judas saw money and the woman at Jesus' feet saw money.
a. One saw money as a tool for ministry. Nothing wrong with that until we realize that when we love the tool (money) more than we love to worship Jesus. The woman was interested in worshiping Jesus with here possessions with no way of getting it back. Judas saw money in ministry as an investment. Her worship was a waste because it didn't seem to do anything except give homage, honor, worth, and praise to Jesus... something Judas didn't realize his worship was void of.
What would you break before the feet of Jesus out of love for what he has done for your salvation?
a. Personal responses
Notes  Luke 7:37  Luke 7:39  Luke 7:48  John 12:5  John 12:6  Matt. 26:13  John 12:6