You always have the poor with you ...

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. There were some who said to themselves indignantly, “Why was the ointment wasted like that? For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.” And they scolded her.

But Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 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. She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial. 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.”

I think compassion is at the very heart of this passage. Consider how Jesus says:
"For you always have the poor with you,
and whenever you want, you can do good for them."
It is odd how many people often quote the first half of this verse and rarely remember the rest of it. It is as if they forget that the message that Jesus proclaimed was good news to the poor. In truth God's people can do good for the poor whenever they want but rarely do deferring to do good for buildings and religious leaders much in the ways that the Jews back then did. It is as if the gospel message has been twisted to eliminate the poor.

In contrast the Lord speaks encouraging words for the woman who gave lavishly and generously. He says that she has done a beautiful thing. Perhaps we would do well to understand the beauty of this kind of worship? Reminds me that King David once said:
I will not give that which costs me nothing.
The nard used to anoint the body of Christ was pure and it was costly. Perhaps the message in this story is two fold: firstly, we should do good for the poor; secondly, our gifts of worship can only be measured in the currency of heaven

Show me the nard in my life Lord. Help me to not hold back.

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