It was Intended
It was Intended
Words of Faith 12-28-16
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2016
Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL
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 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."
 Meanwhile a large crowd of Jews found out that Jesus was there and came, not only because of him but also to see Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead.  So the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus as well,  for on account of him many of the Jews were going over to Jesus and putting their faith in him.
Caution: This may be the most difficult text of the year.
Mary of Bethany had just anointed Jesus with a perfume that cost about a year’s wages. It was an extravagant gift that immediately drew criticism as being wasteful. Judas Iscariot grumbled about the waste that could have benefited “the poor”. But John points out to us that Judas was not really concerned for the poor and that as the treasurer for the traveling group he often dipped into those community funds.
Jesus’ response tells us that all these events were pointing toward His death. But He also calls us to contemplate how love Him and others.
"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." Both Mark and Matthew report that Jesus called this “wasteful” act “a beautiful thing”. It was a blessing to Jesus. Clearly an extravagant thing done for Jesus is beautiful.
But what about the poor? Was Jesus unconcerned for the poor? Far from it. In fact, Jesus leveled scorching criticism at those who are religious but fail to hear the needs of the poor. "I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me” (Matthew 25:45). Jesus was consistent in lifting up the needs of the poor.
So what are we to make of this? Where is the balance? Extravagant love for Jesus is a beautiful thing but how is that balanced against the ever-present poverty of this world? Even today if a great thing done for Jesus it will often be criticized in the name of the poor. On the other hand, concern for the poor will sometimes be dismissed flippantly by Christians with the words of Jesus that “the poor will always be with you”.
We find ourselves in quite a quandary. Is it a sin to build an expensive piece of architecture or art that draws people closer to God over a long period of time? Is it a sin to spend money on expensive technology and communication when there are hungry people in the world? Is it a sin to use a cell phone and computer to reach a technological generation? Is it a sin to buy a new friend a $5 latte in the city as a way of sharing some time in conversation that may have an eternal consequence?
Even when we are sure of our motivation and that we are not building monuments to men, are not the needs of the poor always a most pressing concern?
But is it not also a sin to neglect the “poor in spirit” who are consumed by the worldly culture? Truly, some of the most impoverished people I have known were wealthy in this world. Is it a sin to fail to reach them with the Gospel using every architectural and technological tool available?
Did not the Apostle Paul say, “I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings” (1 Cor. 9:22-23)? I am convinced that today Paul would have a wireless modem-equipped laptop and a killer website.
Is it legitimate to enjoy any creature comforts in life? It might be said of almost anything that it is an unneeded luxury in the face of the needs of the poor. Can we enjoy any meal or purchase any piece of clothing without guilt?
The truth is that the poor will always be with us, yet, Jesus enjoyed at least some creature comforts in His life. His lifestyle was humble but He did eat. He stayed frequently in the home of well-to-do friends in Bethany. At a wedding, he enjoyed the party and even provided more wine. On a number of occasions Jesus accepted gracious hospitality while certainly there were others in poverty.
So what is the answer? What is the rule? The answer is to keep seeking the answer. Keep walking with Jesus. Continue to listen to the Spirit. Listen. That is the answer. That is the only answer.
Lord, I am listening. Guide me. Show me how I can become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some for the sake of the gospel that I may share in its blessings. Guide me in the path that will love You extravagantly and show deep concern for the least of these. In Jesus’ name.
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© Jeffrey D. Hoy 2002, 2016
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy - Faith Fellowship Church (EFCA)
2820 Business Center Blvd.
Melbourne, Florida 32940 (321)-259-7200
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