Not long ago a friend sent me a card with a picture of a small boy wearing a straw hat floating on an inner tube on a tranquil country pond. His head was thrown back. He was in perfect peace. The caption read: “Each life needs it’s own quiet place." The verses we come to next in Matthew 26 are like that. They are a quiet place at the center of the storm that is about to break upon the body of Jesus Christ. The rulers of the people were plotting how they might take Jesus’ life. Judas had offered to betray Jesus to them at the earliest possible opportunity. Evil was afoot. But while it was gathering, Jesus collected his disciples for one final time of fellowship and teaching before the crucifixion.

This brings us to Matthew’s appropriately brief reference to Judas who, we are told, went to the chief priests and offered to betray Jesus to them in exchange for thirty silver coins (vv. 14-16). For Judas certainly did lose his soul! Jesus called Judas “the one doomed to destruction” (John 17:12), and just a few verses further on in Matthew 26 Jesus says of him, “Woe to that man who betrays the Son of ManIt would be better for him if he had not been born” (v. 24). Clearly Judas perished and his money with him!

It was not merely that Mary sat at Jesus’ feet and learned from him, however. That points to what Jesus gave her, but it is only half of what was going on. Mary also gave herself to Jesus, which is what the pouring out of her expensive perfume means. Mark tells us that she broke her jar to do it (Mark 14:3). So it wasn’t a case of her merely dipping into it a little bit and placing a little bit on Jesus, or even carefully pouring out a little bit as one might be expected to dispense perfume. On the contrary, she gave it all, not holding back even a little bit.

Jesus had come with his disciples to Bethany to stay at the home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, who were his friends. They gave a supper in his honor, probably as a thank-you supper for the raising of Lazarus from the dead. It was a brave thing to do since the Sanhedrin were seeking to arrest and kill him. But what stuck out in everyone’s mind, as they remembered the dinner afterward, was Mary’s extravagant act in anointing Jesus with her valuable perfume. John suggests that Mary has been keeping the ointment for this purpose for some time (John 12:7). So she did not act impulsively on a mere whim. Nevertheless, her act was extravagant since the perfume was worth three hundred denarii, about a years wages for a working man (John 12:5).

The leading figure in the plot to arrest and kill Jesus was Caiaphas, the high priest. Caiaphas had been appointed high priest by Valerius Gratus, Pilate’s predecessor, in A.D. 18, about twelve years before this. He was the son-in-law of Annas, the hereditary high priest who had served from 6-15 A.D., until the Romans deposed him. Caiaphas survived until A.D. 36, which means that he held his office for eighteen years. This tells us something important about him. Between 37. B.C. and 67 A.D., when the last of the high priests was appointed just before the destruction of the temple, the Romans appointed and deposed no fewer than twenty-eight high priests. So if Caiaphas survived for eighteen years, it could only have been because he was a shrewd politician who wanted to hang on to power at all costs.