John’s gospel, 12:1-11, points out three interesting things that help to
clue us in to Who Jesus is and what is about to happen. First, the
gospel tells us that six days before the Passover, Jesus was in Bethany
with Lazarus, Mary and Martha. It’s interesting that just a week before
His own resurrection, Jesus visits the man who had already been brought
back from the dead. Perhaps Jesus was trying to give His followers a
reminder that being laid in the tomb isn’t necessarily the end.
Next we see the anointing of Jesus by the woman who uses her hair to
wash His feet with expensive oil—Another hint to us of His imminent
fate. But the greatest lesson here is conveyed in the reaction of the
others to her having “wasted” this precious commodity when the money
could have been spent to help the poor. Jesus rebukes the naysayers and
says, “You always have the poor with you, but you do not always have
me.” On the surface this seems as though He is putting Himself above the
poor, but we know this cannot be since Jesus has already preached that
we are our brothers’ keeper. So what can we glean from His words?
First, we have to recognize the primacy of God. We are to put Him
first—above riches (the money spent on expensive anointing oil instead
of worldly wants or necessities), above the needy (not because the needy
should suffer or because we should be indifferent to those in need, but
because if we put God first, He will ensure the needy will be helped.)
In this instance, Jesus knows that His impending Passion will ransom
both the wealthy and the poor from an eternity separated from God, even
though those in attendance do not know what is about to happen.
Which leads us to the second lesson: We should not be judgmental. Why? Because we don’t know everything.
But God does. (Which ties in with why we should put Him first in our lives.)
These naysayers are quick to judge this woman for her (seeming)
wastefulness, but God does not condemn her. In fact, her devotion to Him
outweighs all else. Ask yourself: Does your devotion to Jesus outweigh
Today, let’s recall all the times we have been quick to judge outward
appearance, those times when we easily condemned the actions of others
without first gathering all the facts. Let’s call to mind the times we
failed to put God first, even if we had good intentions (The naysayers
in John’s gospel wanted to use the anointing oil money to tend to the
poor—a worthy endeavor, if not misplaced at that moment.) We are to put
God first at all times, regardless of how it looks to others and
regardless of the cost to ourselves. When we put God first, we open a
pathway to grace and salvation.
Let’s pray: Lord, help me to be discerning and not to judge too quickly
or too harshly without having all the facts. Help me to put You first in
my life, and all else second so that You can shine through my actions
and be a light to the world.