Judges 1-3

Luke 4:1-30

“‘Leave her alone,’ said Jesus. ‘Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to Me.’” —Mark 14:6 

When Jesus was having a meal at Simon the Lepers home, Mary of Bethany came in unannounced and poured an expensive perfume on Jesus. The people watching were indignant, saying to one another, “Why this waste of perfume? It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor” (Mark 14:4-5). Hearing these remarks, Jesus exclaimed, “Leave her alone. Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to Me. The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have Me. She did what she could. She poured perfume on My body beforehand to prepare for My burial. Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her” (Mark 14:6-9).

What did Jesus mean by His response? Is He encouraging us to do nothing about the poor? Most definitely not! Scripture teaches us to care for the poor, such as Deuteronomy 15:11: “There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be open-handed towards your fellow Israelites who are poor and needy in your land.” Now, why did Jesus give that response about Mary?

In one of Jesus’s previous teachings, He tells us, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:37-40). In other words, if we love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, it will always lead to the second command of loving our neighbours as ourselves. Nobody can love God with all their being and not love other people.

In light of this understanding, as Mary was expressing her sacrificial extravagant love for Jesus, there was no need to worry about Mary’s concern for the poor and for her neighbour. Because Mary loved Jesus, to love her neighbour is the natural response. Yet, we cannot put the cart before the horse. We do not have the capacity to love one another until Jesus Christ is operating in our life. It is out of our love for God that we see everything else differently. Hence, Jesus tells us, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33).

As we love God, a natural outpouring of our heart will be to care for the poor and needy—our neighbours.

Precious Jesus, I ask for You to help me increase my love for You and from my love towards You to love others as myself. Thank You, Jesus.

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