“Do you know what you’re worth?” the ad asked.
Our self-esteem culture strongly emphasizes knowing your self-worth—at least in terms of dollars and cents. You can find websites that tell you how much you should be making per year. I think most are too optimistic. For example, I was surprised to learn that, according to salary.com, “the average Clown salary in the United States is $60,697.” What? Could that be accurate? Or has someone inflated the numbers? (And do I need a career change?)
Oftentimes, we’re lousy at making value judgments.
For example, consider John 12.
Jesus was visiting Mary and Martha’s house, which some have described as Jesus’ home away from home. As He was eating supper, Mary came to wipe His feet:
Then Mary took a pound of very costly oil of spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil (John 12:3).
Jesus had spoken about His imminent death, but it seems no one took Him seriously. No one, except for Mary.
Spikenard was made from a plant grown in northern India, and it was very expensive to import it to Israel. Some commentators have said the oil would have cost a year’s wages. Others explain how it may have been an ancient way to store wealth—instead of buying stocks, Mary bought oil.
Then she poured it on Jesus’ feet.
Judas was outraged! Why? He knew the price of that oil:
But one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, who would betray Him, said, “Why was this fragrant oil not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” This he said, not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the money box; and he used to take what was put in it (John 12:4-6).
At a glance, Judas knew the value of the oil, but he did not see the value of Jesus. While Judas complained, Jesus defended Mary:
But Jesus said, “Let her alone; she has kept this for the day of My burial. For the poor you have with you always, but Me you do not have always” (John 12:7-8).
For example, Mary’s act shows she thought Jesus was more valuable than the spikenard, so she poured out her life savings on her Savior’s feet.
By contrast, Judas thought Mary was wasting the oil. While he valued it at three hundred denarii, to him, Jesus’ life was worth no more than a mere thirty pieces of silver (Matt 26:15).
Two people. Two very different valuations of Jesus. Judas did not know Jesus’ true value. Do you?