If there ever was a rebuttal to a “gospel” that centers upon social justice, it is Mark 14:3-9. Jesus, more than anyone else, loved the poor. No one ever contends with that point, and yet Jesus never made social justice central. Thus shame on those who do so with appeal to his name. In this text, Jesus makes clear that loving others is not more important than loving the Son of God. And G od is not honored by those who give their lives to serve the poor, if Christ is but a footnote for them. See, Jesus is the everlasting king of glory! Jesus is the image of the Living God. Jesus is the Lamb who takes away the sin of the world—the very thing this woman was attesting to. He has made us and he has saved us. The meaning of our lives is found in him, and his honor is the ultimate end of everything that ever was. Jesus is the center of the universe and Jesus is the center of the gospel—and indeed this is good news. With Jesus at the center, our hearts soar and the poor have hope. And as with the woman in this text, t hose who honor Jesus will themselves be honored. So would you “waste” your life with me? Would you use your money, spend your energy and give up your time to worship the One worthy of all of it? Loving the poor will certainly be one of the means by which we do this very thing, but it must never be the end. For after Christ has come again and reigned for 10,000 years, the poor will be but a distant memory, but he will still stand forever as the worthy object of all our affection.
Main point summary
The woman who "wasted" an entire flask of expensive ointment on Jesus by faith in what he said he must do—that woman did beautifully, for Jesus is central to all existence.
b And while he was at c Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, 1
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 1
and d given to the poor.”
And they e scolded her.
But Jesus said,
“Leave her alone.
Why do you trouble her?
She has done a beautiful thing to me.
For f you always have the poor with you,
and whenever g you want,
you can do good for them.
But h you will not always have me.
i She has done what she could;
she has anointed my body beforehand j for burial.
And truly, I say to you,
wherever k the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world,
what she has done will be told l in memory of her.”
Jesus Anointed at Bethany 6 v Now when Jesus was at w Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, 1 7 a woman came up to him with an alabaster flask of very expensive ointment, and she poured it on his head as he reclined at table. 8 And when the disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, “Why this waste? 9 For this could have been sold for a large sum and x given to the poor.” 10 But y Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a beautiful thing to me. 11 For z you always have the poor with you, but a you will not always have me. 12 In pouring this ointment on my body, she has done it b to prepare me for burial. 13 Truly, I say to you, wherever c this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will also be told d in memory of her.”
Mary Anoints Jesus at Bethany 12 1 Six days before i the Passover, j Jesus therefore came to Bethany, k where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2 So they gave a dinner for him there. l Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with him at table. 3 m Mary therefore took a pound 1 of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. 4 But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, 5 “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii 1 and n given to the poor?” 6 He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and n having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it. 7 Jesus said, “Leave her alone, so that she may keep it 1 for the day of my burial. 8 For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.”