A Heart for Christ: Part 1

Matthew 26  •  6 min. read  •  grade level: 6
Read Matthew 26.
In this solemn chapter, we have a great many hearts revealed. The heart of the chief priests, the heart of the elders, the heart of the scribes, the heart of Peter, the heart of Judas. But there is one heart in particular unlike all the others, and that is the heart of the woman who brought the alabaster box of very precious ointment, to anoint the body of Jesus. This woman had a heart for Christ. She may have been a very great sinner – a very ignorant sinner, but her eyes had been opened to see a beauty in Jesus which led her to judge that nothing was too costly to he spent on Him. In a word, she had a heart for Christ.
Passing over the chief priests, the elders, and the scribes, let us look for a moment at the heart of this woman in contrast with the heart of Judas and the heart of Peter.
1. Judas was a covetous man. He loved money. A very common love in every age. He had preached the gospel. He had walked in company with the Lord Jesus, during the days of His public ministry. He had heard His words, seen His ways, experienced His kindness. But, alas! though an apostle, though a companion of Jesus, though a preacher of the gospel, he had no heart for Christ. He had a heart for money. His heart was ever moved by the thought of gain. When money was in question, he was all alive. The deepest depths of his being were stirred by money. “The bag” was his nearest and dearest object. Satan knew this. He knew the special lust of Judas. He was fully aware of the price at which he could be bought. He understood his man, how to tempt him, and how to use him. Solemn thought.
Be it observed, also, that the very position of Judas made him all the more fit for Satan. His acquaintance with the ways of Christ made him a fit person to betray Him into the hands of His enemies. Head knowledge of sacred things, if the heart be not touched renders a man more awfully callous, profane, and wicked. The chief priests and scribes in Matthew 2 had a head knowledge of the letter of the Scripture, but no heart for Christ. They could at once hand down the prophetic roll and find the place where it was written, “Thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda for out of thee shall come a Governor that shall rule My people Israel” (Matt. 2:66And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel. (Matthew 2:6)). All this was very well, very true, and very beautiful; but, then, they had no heart for this “Governor” – no eyes to see Him – they did not want Him. They had Scripture at their fingers’ ends. They would have felt ashamed, no doubt, had they not been able to answer Herod’s question. It would have been a disgrace to men in their position to exhibit ignorance; but they had no heart for Christ, and hence they laid their scriptural knowledge at the feet of an ungodly king, who was about to use it, if he could, for the purpose of slaying the true Heir to the throne. So much for head-knowledge without heart-love.
It is not, however, that we would make little of scriptural knowledge. Far from it. The true knowledge of Scripture must lead the heart to Jesus. But there is such a thing as knowing the letter of Scripture so as to be able to repeat chapter after chapter, verse after verse, yea, so as to he a sort of walking concordance, and, all the while, the heart be cold and callous toward Christ. This knowledge will only throw one more into the hands of Satan, as in the case of the chief priests and scribes. Herod would not have applied to ignorant men for information. The devil never takes up ignorant men, or stupid men, to act against the truth of God. No; he finds fitter agents to do his work. The learned, the intellectual, the deep-thinking, provided only they have no heart for Christ, will answer him well, at all times. What was it saved “the wise men from the east?” Why could not Herod – why could not Satan – enlist them into his service? Oh! reader, mark the reply. They had a heart for Christ. Blessed safeguard! Doubtless, they were ignorant of Scripture – they would have made but a poor hand of searching for a passage in the prophets; but they were looking for Jesus, earnestly, honestly, diligently looking for Jesus. Wherefore, Herod would fain have made use of them if he could; but they were not to be used by him. They found their way to Jesus. They did not know much about the prophet who had spoken of the “Governor;” but they found their way to the “Governor” Himself. They found Him in the Person of the babe in the manger at Bethlehem; and instead of being tools in the hands of Herod, they were worshipers at the feet of Jesus.
Now, it is not that we would commend ignorance of Scripture. By no means. People are sure to err greatly who know not the Scriptures. It was to the praise of Timothy that the apostle could say to him, “From a child thou hast known the holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation;” but then he adds, “through faith which is in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 3:1515And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. (2 Timothy 3:15)). The true knowledge of Scripture will always conduct us to the feet of Jesus; but mere head knowledge of Scripture, without heart – love for Christ, will only render us the more effective agents in the hands of Satan.
Thus, in the case of the hard-hearted, money-loving Judas, he had knowledge, without a spark of affection for Christ, and his very familiarity with that blessed One made him a suitable instrument for the devil. His nearness to Jesus enabled him to be a traitor. The devil knew that thirty pieces of silver could purchase his service in the horrible work of betraying his Master.
Reader, think of this! Here was an apostle – a preacher of the gospel – a high professor; yet, underneath the croak of profession, lay “a heart exercised in covetous practices” – a heart which had a wide place for “thirty pieces of silver” but not a corner for Jesus. What a case! what a picture! what a warning! Oh! all ye heartless professors, think of Judas! think of his course! think of his character! think of his end! He preached the gospel, but he never knew it, never believed it, never felt it. He had painted sunbeams on canvas, but he had never felt their influence. He had plenty of heart for money, but no heart for Christ. As “the son of perdition” “he hanged himself” and “went to his own place.” Professing Christians, beware of head-knowledge, lip-profession, official piety, mechanical religion – beware of these things, and seek to have a heart for Christ.
(To be continued)