I heard a sermon today about Mary washing Jesus’ feet and how Judas and Simon were disgusted by the waste of her perfume and by the proximity of this sinful woman to Christ, respectively. The sermon basically called us all out for our gossiping, judging, and belittling.
A part that particularly struck me, though, was that neither Judas nor Simon were wrong in their condemnation of Mary. She did spend a year’s wages on a single bottle of ointment to anoint Jesus’ feet (John 12:5). The next verse we learn that Judas really only said this because he handled the expenses and often helped himself to the coin purse whenever he wanted. But, despite his motive, Judas isn’t wrong in his accusation. A year’s wages could have helped a lot of people.
Simon also wasn’t wrong in his accusation. Many assume Mary was a prostitute (or at least a former prostitute), but there’s actually no text that states this. We can, however, assume that whatever her sin was, it was public. Otherwise, how else would Simon know she was a sinner? Likewise, though, Simon was a sinner, for Romans 3:23 says all have sinned.
So Mary could have used that money to help the poor as Judas was quick to point out, and she definitely was a sinner since we are all sinners but hers was particularly public.
Jesus’ response to Judas was simple:
“Leave her alone” (John 12:7).
She was worshiping (and actually symbolically preparing His body for burial) as best as she knew how, and Jesus honoured that. She worshiped Him from her heart as she cried (Luke 7:38) and wiped the tears and oil with her own hair. This was a true worship experience.
Jesus’ response to Simon was to tell a parable about a man with a massive debt and a man with a small debt, but both debts were fully waived. He asked Simon which man would be more grateful. Simon replied,
“I suppose the one who had the bigger debt forgiven” (Luke 7:43).
Mary had already been forgiven as she symbolically repented at Christ’s feet. Simon, however, condemned a woman in his heart, thought himself more important and holier than Mary, and even smarter than Jesus because he doubted Jesus had any idea who this woman was. His debt was bigger. Had he repented, he would have been forgiven.
In the book of Zechariah, Joshua is accused before God in a vision:
“Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right side to accuse him. The LORD said to Satan, ‘The LORD rebuke you, Satan! The LORD, who has chosen Jerusalem, rebuke you! Is not this man a burning stick snatched from the fire?’ Now Joshua was dressed in filthy clothes as he stood before the angel” (Zechariah 3:1-3).
Satan isn’t wrong! He is prepared to accuse Joshua before the Creator of the Universe, and his accusations are not wrong!
Isaiah refers to our self-righteousness as filthy rags,
“All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away” (Isaiah 64:6),
and here we see Joshua dressed in “filthy clothes”! His righteousness is not right. It’s a mess. He’s in shambles. He’s unclean and detestable, but God calls him a burning stick snatched from the fire. He’s burnt. He’s damaged. He’s nearly past the point of no return, but God rebukes Satan and claims Joshua as his own.
Jesus claims YOU as His own. You might be burnt. You might be damaged. You might be dangerously close to that point of no return. Like Mary, you might be a social pariah and just trying to do this whole “God thing” as best as you know how. You might have your own Judas criticizing every little thing you do. You might have your own Simon who only knows your mistakes, never lets you forget them, and likes to keep others informed.
“Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised–who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us” (Romans 8:33-34).
“There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit” (Romans 8:1).
In Christ, He will not accuse. Even though Joshua was a mess, he stood uncondemned before God. You can too.
Like Mary, come to Jesus as best as you know how.