Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.
“Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. “It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.”
Oh God, forgive us for our hard hypocritical hearts! Mary loves Jesus. It seems so simple, and yet every day - why is this so difficult for us? Why can't we love Jesus generously as Mary did? In these verses, when Jesus says that you will always have the poor but not me, he not only meant his physical presence on earth, but more so us carrying Jesus with us as we minister to the needy. That is, even if you give to the poor, but you don't have Jesus in your heart, then what you do is meaningless. You may or may not have Jesus in your heart as you give, but it is not your giving that will change this world and end poverty - it is the richness that comes from giving through the power of the Son of God. Several say that Jesus was referencing Deuteronomy 15:11 - "There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your fellow Israelites who are poor and needy in your land." I, on the other hand, think he also was talking about Deuteronomy 15:4 - "However, there need be no poor people among you, for in the land the Lord your God is giving you to possess as your inheritance, he will richly bless you." How tragic is it that we continue the cycle of poverty because we do not accept the rich spiritual blessings of God and pass them on to others? That is why there are always poor people in this world. But thanks be to God - he saves us even from tight-fisted selves, and Jesus in his blood gives to us SO generously that he erases all poverty, destruction, and death - "They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain" (Isaiah 11:9).
(Start at the beginning of the series HERE.)