Day 36 – A Powerful story of Love.
Matthew 26:6-13 (ESV)
Now when Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, a woman came up to him with an alabaster flask of very expensive ointment, and she poured it on his head as he reclined at table. And when the disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, “Why this waste? For this could have been sold for a large sum and given to the poor.” But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a beautiful thing to me. For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me. In pouring this ointment on my body, she has done it to prepare me for burial. Truly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her.”
I treasure this powerful story of love. I like to look at the same story told by Mark
Mark 14:3-9 (ESV)
And while he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he was reclining at table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over his head. There were some who said to themselves indignantly, “Why was the ointment wasted like that? For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.” And they scolded her. But Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. But you will not always have me.
She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial. And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.”
Quite likely, it was Judas who was so concerned about the money being wasted, as he acted as the treasurer for Jesus and the disciples. Jesus quickly challenged the indignation of the disciples and let them know that this beautiful act of love and worship would be remembered forever. I prefer the version of the story told by Mark, as it makes clear that Jesus was quoting Deuteronomy 15, in his statements about the poor.
Deuteronomy 15:11 (ESV)
“For there will never cease to be poor in the land. Therefore I command you, ‘You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in your land.”
Some in Christendom have unfortunately used the phrase by Jesus in the Matthew story, ‘ For you always have the poor with you’, to tolerate poverty and used it as an excuse for inaction. However, Jesus’ phrase as reported by Mark reiterates the message of Deuteronomy and it is a call to action. “If you are obedient there will be not be poor in the land, but since there is disobedience, there will always be poor in the land, so open wide your hand to your brother!”
Jesus’ expectation was for us to do good for those in poverty every day. What could we do today for someone in need?
Rev. Andy Bales
President/CEO of Union Rescue Mission