Posts Tagged ‘mary and martha’

Doug Wilson’s first point in his post on time management brought to mind yet again a passage of scripture that seems to be haunting me lately. I actually read it about a month ago and have thought about it ever since. It comes from Matthew 26:

Now when Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, 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. And when the disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, “Why this waste? For this could have been sold for a large sum and given to the poor.” But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a beautiful thing to me. For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me. In pouring this ointment on my body, she has done it to prepare me for burial. Truly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will also be told in memory of her.” (Matthew 26:6-13 ESV)

What struck me and helped me is the context. Look at the subsequent passage (in both Matthew and Mark!):

Then one of the twelve, whose name was Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What will you give me if I deliver him over to you?” And they paid him thirty pieces of silver. And from that moment he sought an opportunity to betray him. (Matthew 26:14-16 ESV)

Calculated and Efficient

Think about the disciples’ response and Judas’ ultimate response. They are indignant, practically angry because of the wasted resource of this young woman. This act exposes their religiosity and look at how quickly Jesus rebukes them. The disciples think: this is inefficient and wasteful, what a poor use of money, we could have helped a lot of people with that. This is just like the Pharisee. Discipline and efficiency. But how many of us are more efficient and disciplined merely for the sake of discipline and efficiency? We have our 3 digital devices and brag about our technology and how we manage our time well – but all we ever talk about is technology and efficiency. Or we’re simply penny pinchers. Sure, you save your money, but for what? What are you clinging to? All our church programs, our planning, our statistics, what an idol it can all be. The idol of control. That it’s purely in my hands. My efficiency makes me a better Christian. You know what the Bible calls that? A Pharisee.

I think this might have been the tipping point for Judas. He seemed to have a love for money and simply just didn’t get it – he still wanted the way of the Pharisee that Jesus just crushes here. He finally has enough after this and yields to temptations of Satan.

Love for Jesus is the Only Thing that Matters

Listen to Jesus in Matthew 26. You will always have the poor. Wherever this gospel is proclaimed, we will talk about this woman. What does he mean? Let’s go to another familiar passage where Jesus hammers the same thing.

Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:38-42 ESV)

Hear the voice of Jesus. What matters? Our efficiency? Is he commending Mary for her laziness? Is he commending the woman with the alabaster jar for her wastefulness? He is calling out their LOVE for him. These women are not calculated and efficient, they just act in both passages out of one motivation: They love and worship Jesus. They are enthralled by him. He matters most. All other idols give way. The woman’s alabaster jar was likely her dowry and she just throws it away like it’s nothing for Jesus, no hesitation, not even asked to do it. That’s what Jesus wants! That’s what he’s worth! It’s a matter of whether I believe that. Do I side with the disciples and get indignant when other brothers and sisters are foolish for the sake of the gospel? I think I’m holding back most of the time, just trying to be safe, letting my own comfort matter more than my love for Jesus, clinging to the spiritualized American dream that we love so much more.

I want to be self-forgetful like these women. I want to be enthralled with Jesus like they were. I want to be willing to throw my dreams and desires away to get more of Jesus. That looks like a scary place to be from where I’m currently standing, but isn’t that where the gospel has freed us to be?

If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. (1 Corinthians 13:3 ESV)

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