Mark 14:3-8 tells us that Jesus was in the home of Simon the leper when a woman poured expensive perfume over Jesus’ head. This upset some people, prompting them to say, “Why has this perfume been wasted? For this perfume might have been sold for over three hundred denarii, and the money given to the poor (4-5, NASB).” This remark made me wonder why they would view this act as wasting the expensive oil.
In the time of Jesus, a denarii was the equivalent of a day’s wage. To put it another way, it would’ve taken about 10 months of work to earn enough to buy the amount of oil poured on Jesus’ head. It’s interesting that Jesus told them to stop bothering her. “For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you wish you can do good to them; but you do not always have Me (7).” That last part of his response caught my attention.
“Whenever you wish you can do good to them.” It’s easy to criticize the generosity of others — the actions of others in the name of Jesus. It’s easy to say there are poor people in need. What’s difficult is “whenever you wish you can do good to them.” How willing are we to give almost a year of our life to help others in the name of Jesus?
Our work for the Kingdom of God is an expensive oil poured on the head of Jesus. It is an act of honoring Jesus with what he has given us; an act of using what skills he has blessed us with in this world. The poor will always be with us, but so will our ability to help them.
© 2020 CGThelen