A Heart for Christ

Matthew 26  •  8 min. read  •  grade level: 6
Read Matt. 26
In this solemn chapter, we have a great many hearts revealed: the hearts of the chief priests, the hearts of the elders, the hearts of the scribes, the heart of Peter, and 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 be spent on Him.
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 and experienced His kindness. However, though he was an apostle, a companion of Jesus, and a preacher of the gospel, he had no heart for Christ. He had a heart for money. His heart was always moved by the thought of gain. The depths of his being were stirred by money. "The bag" was his nearest and dearest object. Satan knew the special lust of Judas. He was fully aware of the price at which he could be bought. He understood how to tempt him, and knew how to use him. Solemn thought!
Notice 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 terribly callous, profane, and wicked. The chief priests and scribes in Matthew 2 had a head knowledge of the Scripture, but no heart for Christ. They could at once reach for 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 they had no heart for this "Governor;" they did not want Him. They had Scripture at their fingertips. 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. 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.
We would not, however, underestimate 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, even to be a sort of a walking concordance, and still the heart can 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 [lave applied to ignorant men for information. The devil seldom takes up ignorant men, or stupid men, to act against the truth of God. No; he finds agents more fit to do his work. The learned, the intellectual, the deep-thinking, provided they have no heart for Christ, will serve him well at all times. What was it that drew the wise men from the east? Why could not Herod-why could not Satan-enlist them into his service? They had a heart for Christ. Blessed safeguard! Doubtless they were ignorant of Scripture. They would have made only a poor hand of searching for a passage in the prophets, but they were looking for Jesus-earnestly, honestly, diligently looking for Jesus. Herod would 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.
We would not commend ignorance of the Scriptures-by no means. People who do not know the Scriptures are sure to err greatly. 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;" 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 make us more effective agents in the hands of Satan.
Thus, in the case of the hard-hearted, money-loving Judas, he had knowledge without any 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.
Think of it! Here was an apostle, a preacher of the gospel, and yet, underneath the cloak 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 warning! Think of the heart, course and character of Judas; consider his end. He preached the gospel, but he never knew it, never believed it, never felt it. 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, and mechanical religion-just seek to have a heart for Christ.
2. In Peter we have a warning of a different kind. He really loved Jesus, but he feared the cross. He shrank from confessing His name in the midst of the enemy's ranks. He boasted of what he would do, when he should have been self-emptied. He was fast asleep when he ought to have been on his knees. Instead of praying, he was sleeping, and then, instead of being still, he was drawing his sword. He followed Jesus "afar off," and then warmed himself at the high priest's fire. Finally, he cursed and swore that he did not know his gracious Master. All this was terrible! Who could suppose that the Peter of Matt. 16:1616And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. (Matthew 16:16) is the Peter of Matthew 26? Yet so it is. The highest position, the loudest profession, may all end in following Jesus afar off, and basely denying His name.
Peter would have spurned the thought of selling Jesus for thirty pieces of silver, and yet he was afraid to confess Him before a servant maid. He did not betray Him to His enemies, but He denied Him before them.
Remember Peter's fall, and beware of self-confidence. Cultivate a prayerful spirit. Keep close to Jesus, and away from the influence of this world's favor. "Keep thyself pure." Be earnest and watchful, occupied with Christ. This is the true safeguard. Do not be satisfied with the mere avoidance of open sin. Do not rest in mere blamelessness of conduct and character. Cherish lively, warm affections toward Christ. One who follows Jesus "afar off" may deny Him before long. Let us think of this. Let us profit by the case of Peter. He himself afterward tells us to "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: whom resist steadfast in the faith. 1 Pet. 5:8, 98Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: 9Whom resist stedfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world. (1 Peter 5:8‑9). These are weighty words, coming, as they do, from the Holy Ghost, through the pen of one who had suffered so much from lack of vigilance.
Blessed be the grace that could say to Peter, before his fall, "I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not." Notice that He does not say, "I have prayed for thee, that thou mayest not fall." No, but "that thy faith fail not when thou hast fallen. Precious, matchless grace! This was Peter's resource. He was a debtor to grace from first to last.
3. The woman with the alabaster box stands forth in bright and beauteous contrast to all of this. While the chief priests, elders, and scribes were plotting against Christ "in the palace of the high priest, who was called Caiaphas," she was anointing His body "in the house of Simon the leper." She was wholly absorbed with her object, and her object was Christ. Those who did not know His worth and beauty might pronounce her sacrifice a waste. He who could sell Him for thirty pieces of silver, might talk of giving "to the poor," but she paid no attention. She had found her all in Christ. The disciples might murmur, but she could worship and adore. Jesus was more to her than all the poor in the world. She felt that nothing was "waste" that was spent on Him. Happy woman! May we imitate her! May we ever find our place at the feet of Jesus, loving, adoring, admiring, and worshiping His blessed Person!
May the Lord grant us each a heart for Christ.