What should be central to our ministry?

  While he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at the table, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very costly ointment of nard, and she broke open the jar and poured the on his head.  Mark 14:3 NRSV translation

What follows after this moment is something that has come to the front of our debate in this age as we “debate” to what extent should the church or any organization care for “the poor.” Some were appalled by this act of anointing done by this woman. we can’t be certain that they were mad, because it was a woman or THAT woman, or just that anyone not recognised as an authority of such divine matters would dare anoint anyone. They don’t dare attack the woman based on her gender, because Jesus had on a number of occasions reached out and included women in what used to be a “boys club.” Therefore, they attack the waste of funds by highlighting the great need all around them present in the poor that filled the streets and common areas of Bethany at that time. There is one more thing at work here that will help us understand what Jesus was and is saying to his followers then and today. Notice where in Bethany they were staying; Simon the lepers’ home. This was the house of someone who is known in his community as unclean, outcast, and all who entered his home I imagine would not be welcome to enter in the temple to worship.

Jesus’ disciples and followers are misinterpreting the entire scene and fixing their gaze on the money wasted on a moment. Jesus response is aimed at their misguided attempts to show concern. Even though they say they are worried about the poor, what really stands out is that 300 denarii is being dumped on his head.  It is clear that Jesus knows that he is entering his final hours and this anointing is more than any of his closest companions has ever offered. His body is being prepared for the death that he will face and walk through for their sake and indeed all souls. This monetary gift is minimal in comparison to the one that is going to be given through his personal sacrifice for all and Jesus is laying the ground work for their eventual understanding that money and our role of caring for those in need are important, but never at the expense of dethroning the Lord of all. Of course we must be wise stewards with the funds that we have been entrusted to use for ministry. Absolutely we must care for those who are in need. However, there is only one Jesus and nothing is more important than our adoration and praise to the one true savior of all!

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