This post is part of a series that will take us up to the Easter holiday that celebrates the Resurrection of our Lord.
Mark 14:3–11 (ESV) – 3 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. 4 There were some who said to themselves indignantly, “Why was the ointment wasted like that? 5 For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.” And they scolded her. 6 But Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 7 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. 8 She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial. 9 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.”
10 Then Judas Iscariot, who was one of the twelve, went to the chief priests in order to betray him to them. 11 And when they heard it, they were glad and promised to give him money. And he sought an opportunity to betray him.
A woman, identified in Matthew and John as Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, took a flask of expensive ointment and poured it over Jesus’ head. Some others in attendance spoke among themselves of this action and were critical towards Mary for wasting such an expensive thing. After all, it could have been sold and the proceeds used to feed the poor. Such thinking may seem pious, but Jesus corrected these disciples by explaining that they would always have the poor with them, but he would not always be with them.
What did Jesus mean by his statement about the poor always being with them? Some have taken it to mean that we should not worry about the poor or try to eliminate poverty because that is not possible. That is not Jesus’ point at all. He was addressing the actions of Mary. Mary had prioritized correctly. Jesus would soon be gone so the opportunity to worship and honor him in such a way would soon be past. The opportunity to minister to the poor would still be present after Jesus was gone. They needed to prioritize Jesus while they still could. We today also must prioritize Jesus in our lives while the time is before us. If we wait too long the opportunity will pass.
Lord, help us to put you first in our lives. There are many things that distract us, some of them good things, but help us to always put you first. Amen.
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