What I Learned in Sunday School: Regret
Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it. Jesus said, “Leave her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of my burial. For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.” –John 12:3–8
(See also Matthew 26:6-13 and Mark 14:3-8 for parallel accounts)
Note: All are welcome to join our Sunday School trek through Mark’s Gospel. We meet Sunday mornings at 9:00 AM.
Every unpaid sin committed will one day be regretted.
The Gospels tell of a woman’s (Mary) worshipful act, anointing Jesus with costly perfume on the eve of His death. Jesus declared it “beautiful,” an act of worship from the heart of one who saw Jesus as precious. Yet, to Judas (and other disciples) it was an egregious waste.
But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” –John 12:4
According to John’s Gospel Judas’ heart was indignant with Mary, for Judas, “…was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it.” (John 12:6). Judas loved money, and he acted accordingly right after this event, leaving to sell out the Savior for 30 silver pieces (Mark 14:10-11).
However, Judas was eventually terrorized with regret for the injustice he committed. He realized he was terribly wrong all along. The burden of Judas’ regret meant death for him. Indeed, all unaddressed regret will end in death.
Then when Judas, his betrayer, saw that Jesus was condemned, he changed his mind and brought back the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and the elders, saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” They said, “What is that to us? See to it yourself.” And throwing down the pieces of silver into the temple, he departed, and he went and hanged himself.” -Matthew 27:3–5
No unpaid sin ever committed will be returned without a payment of regret.
All people will one day kneel before Jesus and declare, “You were always right!” All will one day recognize Jesus as King and Lord (Philippians 2:9-11). Everyone who unwillingly bows will weep, tears streaming with terror and regret at how wrong they always were and how right God has always been. They will continually cycle through the realization that their wasted time pursuing sin has now run out. There will then be no more time to return from their regret.
And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the book of life. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done…And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. –Revelation 20:12, 15
Regret is terrible, yet it is the all-gracious reminder from God that sin never pays. Its flavors never satisfy. It promises much but delivers death (Proverbs 9:18). Sin’s bitterness is felt in the sorrow of regret, but that is just sin’s first personal effect.
Every UNPAID sin committed…
Regret holds power if my sin still burdens me with condemnation—a charge against me before the Holy God.
But, when I think about the cross, Jesus reminds me that something happened in his death. My sin, “…that held Him there,” as the song* goes, “…until it was accomplished.” I then remember, “His dying breath has brought me life—I know that it is finished.”
What was accomplished?
The full payment of my sin in the body of my Savior. Jesus has eternally ensured that I have no more unpaid sin (Romans 8:1).
What is finished?
My striving, for I am saved by grace alone (Ephesians 2:8).
My fear, for I am secured by Him alone (Philippians 1:6).
My regret, for my sins are to Him (and me!) as far away as the depths of the sea (Micah 7:19).
*Lyrics from, How Deep the Father’s Love for Us by Stewart Townsend, 1995.