Before you read the passage coming up I want to direct your thoughts. The focus I want you to take is on the words of Christ in verse 7. Please try to avoid getting hung up in the woman anointing or the disciples judging. The important thing is how Jesus is reclining, observing, and improving those around him.
3 And while he was at 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. 4 There were some who said to themselves indignantly, “Why was the ointment wasted like that? 5 For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii2 and given to the poor.” And they scolded her. 6 But Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 7 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. 8 She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial. 9 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.” (Mark 14:3-9–ESV)
Back handed compliment? I used to think so
All my life when I have read verse 7 I have sort of scoffed at the disciples. “Like you want to give to the poor!” has gone my thoughts. Not only have I semi-scoffed at the disciples, but I have imagined Jesus was implying the same thing. I have presumed Jesus was giving a back handed compliment.
The problem with this approach is that it presumes Jesus to be insulting his disciples. We have no grounds for that. Jesus does not descend to witty jibes. Doing so often stems from a judgmental attitude and that is not the manner or means of Jesus.
I think the far better approach here is to see that Jesus is putting a positive spin on their words casting them as interested in the poor. It is good to want to do good for the poor. That is a godly and healthy motivation. There was this inkling of truth even in the disciples judging. Jesus picked up their words, dusted the bad things away and selected the one good nugget that was there. He then exalted that. Jesus redeemed their judgmental stance for something good.
Jesus was not insulting them, but was displaying a gentle and gracious attitude toward them.
My tendency in this passage is to say, “Go Jesus! You got them. Those sniveling disciples.” Well, by having that tendency I am a doing the same thing that they were. I am judging the disciples. That is doing the same thing to the disciples as they were doing to this woman.
When we study our Bibles the Holy Spirit teaches. Well, he has been teaching me and the lesson I need to learn is to be like Jesus. Find the good and exalt it. Dust the bad from other’s responses.
Donald Trump’s Transition
Now let us see how that is working in the political scene in America. In the week of November 13, 2016 the Republican National Committee spokesperson Sean Spicer said, “Not only will people not be able to (be) registered state or federal lobbyists, but when they leave government, they will be banned from being a registered lobbyist for five years.”
How was that received? Well, let us look at what Danielle Diaz in writing for CNN on 11/17/2016 said. Here are her words, “Any ban on lobbying, however, depends on how it is written and enforced. A common practice in Washington is for key power players not to register as a lobbyist, but instead work as a consultant or adviser — allowing them to take their experience and contacts to make hundreds of thousands of dollars on K Street.” (link here)
Now, we must not get sidetracked from Mark 14 and off into the politics, but what I want to point out is our tendency. I am not unlike Danielle Diaz in this. What she is doing is making bad presumptions. Donald Trump is making an attempt at good. The response is, “Yes, but we had better look at the fine print because surely it is chock-full of loopholes.”
Can we be like Jesus in our daily lives?
We would do well to begin looking for the good things in what people say. If we can pick up the nuggets of excellence, no matter how small, and redeem them for something good we can be like Jesus. That may take a lot of practice for some of us. Practicing godliness is a great thing, though.