Two stories about how much money Jesus is worth

During this morning's devotions (it's a habit you can't really live without, BTW), I came across two stories in Matthew 26, each of which puts a price on Jesus' head. In being set side-by-side in Matthew's Gospel, these two stories make quite a point.

Story 1: It is a couple of days before Jesus' death, and he is reclining at table with his disciples as usual. On this particular evening, a woman comes in carrying an alabaster vial of extremely expensive perfume. Today's top-dollar perfume is Clive Christian No. 1, valued at $12,721 per ounce. Picture a 3-4 ounce bottle of that.

Her gift is worth perhaps $40,000 in today's money, and the disciples smile with approval. In Jesus' circles, people often bring gifts, and Jesus' disciples convert them into disbursable resources and give the money to the poor. This is apparently what they assume will happen when they see the treasure the woman is carrying.

What the woman does next -- and what Jesus allows her to do -- shocks everyone. She opens the bottle and pours the perfume out on Jesus' head so that it is running down his hair. Jesus' disciples become indignant. "What a waste! Why didn't he stop her so we could sell this perfume and give the money away to the poor?" (In today's Christianese, "What poor stewardship! We could have made good missional use of those funds!") Jesus says to them, "Leave her alone. She has done something beautiful for me. You will always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me with you. What she has done is prepare my body for burial."

(By the way, have you ever pictured Jesus walking around for those last couple of days smelling like a million bucks?)

Story 2: In the very next verses in Matthew 26, Judas finally concludes that his dreams of money and power will never be fulfilled in Jesus' strange kingdom. He goes to the chief priests and offers to turn Jesus over to them, but he wants to get something out of the deal. They offer him thirty pieces of silver. Now I did a little quick Bible study on thirty pieces of silver. In Exodus 21:32, that is the price you would pay if your ox gored to death someone else's slave. In other words, the chief priests insultingly valued Jesus at the price of a slave. And Judas insultingly accepted. It is less than $400 in today's money.

The moral: In story #1, Jesus is valued at an outlandish price others would consider wasteful. In story #2, Jesus is valued at the insulting price of a slave. The question is, what do your choices show about how do you value Jesus?
Do you make decisions for him that are so outlandish others criticize you for being wasteful or unwise with your resources? Do you give up income, possessions, or retirement funds for him? 
Or do you follow the disciples' instincts to do the most sensible thing? ("Good stewardship" in American Christian circles usually means "making and having more money.") 
Or, worse yet, do your choices show that you value Jesus at the insulting price of a slave?


  1. “Search me, God, and know my heart.”


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