READ: Psalm 144, Matthew 26, Hebrews 8
TO GIVE OR TO GIVE UP
Matthew 26 unveils two very different approaches to giving where the disciple and Jesus are involved. One giver pours on Jesus her life savings, an alabaster flask of very costly fragrant oil (v. 7). The other giver wants to see what he can get for giving Jesus up–and Judas bargains for 30 pieces of silver (v. 15). We face a daily similar choice: to give Jesus extravagantly or to give Jesus up.
Giving Jesus extravagantly. Abiding in Jesus is based on the principle of lavishing extravagant daily time on Jesus, both in disciplined blocks of time and in an all-day communion. Extravagant giving is not fulfilled through a one-time sacrifice; to lavish on Jesus is a daily choice, a daily offering. The alabaster box was the accumulation of savings and the loss of it had future implications. When Jesus is precious to us, we daily give Him our best, daily give up other things, daily prioritize Him in our schedule, daily linger longer in His presence. Daily choices on when we go to bed, when we get up, how we spend our time, what we say no to, and what we prioritize undergird an extravagant response to Jesus.
Giving Jesus up. Though we scorn Judas for giving up Jesus for a sum, we are not that different from him, nor from the Gadarenes who preferred their pigs to the presence of Jesus. We continually give Jesus up for truncated and rushed morning abiding times. We give Jesus up for an extra hour of sleep. We give up Jesus to waste time watching sports or a movie that sullies our soul. Most often we betray Jesus with the kiss of false intimacy. Judas’ kiss has been repeated by Christians through the centuries who pay lip service to extravagant time with Jesus but do not live it. Pseudo-abiding is a betrayal. When we claim with our mouths that Jesus is supreme but do not live that commitment out in the moments and hours of our day, we stand with Judas kissing the Savior. We cannot continue to hide behind the cries or worries of legalism. No lover is thought legalistic when he is devoted to his bride. Another way we betray Jesus is when we use Him as a bartering chip or an item to be pawned. Judas sold Jesus cheaply. Just how much ransom is the King of kings worth? We too tend to approach Jesus with the clenched fist of possession, lingering with Him for what He can give us, or worse yet, for what we can get for Him. Jim Elliot prayed: “Lord, release me from the tension of the grasping hand.” Abiding is not a grasping of Jesus for self gain–not in its purest form. Abiding is delighting in Jesus to the extent that we lose all sense of time, all desire for material gain (including healing or blessing). All we want is Jesus Himself. All we want to do is give to Him. This is our alabaster box: so delighted in Jesus, we give Him all.