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 all else?
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.