2021_04_07 Insight Post- Rusty Coram
This week's reading- Matthew 26
It's interesting to me how often I catch myself being critical of others. I do this most often when I’m watching TV commercials, and if I’m being really honest it is easy and fun (especially when my daughter is there joining in). I justify this by telling myself it’s ok since it’s “just a commercial” and no one knows I’m doing it. The problem is that small habits have a way of turning into major mindsets. Criticism is a common way that we make ourselves feel better about us by reducing the value of other people and their choices. This week we see an example of this in Matthew 26,
“Meanwhile, Jesus was in Bethany at the home of Simon, a man who had previously had leprosy. 7 While he was eating, a woman came in with a beautiful alabaster jar of expensive perfume and poured it over his head.
8 The disciples were indignant when they saw this. “What a waste!” they said. 9 “It could have been sold for a high price and the money given to the poor.”
10 But Jesus, aware of this, replied, “Why criticize this woman for doing such a good thing to me? 11 You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me. 12 She has poured this perfume on me to prepare my body for burial. 13 I tell you the truth, wherever the Good News is preached throughout the world, this woman’s deed will be remembered and discussed.” Matthew 26:6–13 (NLT)
Often Jesus needed to correct, and/or adjust, His disciple’s thinking about things; the way teachers do to help students. This example in Matthew is a time when Jesus’ friends felt they had a chance to correct Jesus in an indirect way. However, by criticizing the woman’s act, they are actually saying that Jesus is an accessary by not stopping her, and instructing that the expensive perfume should have been put to a more productive use. We also know, from reading other accounts of this event, that Judas was probably the instigator of the criticism. He was the treasurer for the group, and regularly embezzled funds for his own use. The perfume in question was worth a substantial amount and no doubt he would have liked to have some for his own interests.
A couple of take-aways for me:
1. A critical attitude can lead to even criticizing God’s choices. Jesus is in no way downplaying the need to help the poor, but He makes it clear that the highest priority is to honor, and be totally surrendered in devotion to God. It is in that posture that He will direct our actions to fit His plans.
2. It is easier to criticize than it is to inquire. The disciples could have simply asked Jesus why He let the woman do what she did... that would have created an environment for learning. A very applicable adage for this situation is “I’ve never learned anything when I was talking”!
3. This is purely speculation on my part, but I wonder if there was some inherent sexism going on. Women in that day generally received very little respect or esteem. Culturally, it would have been very easy for the men to think that this woman had let her emotions and care for Jesus, circumvent wisdom, leading her to be wasteful and foolish. I love how Jesus honors her by not only accepting her kindness, but making it very clear that her actions were true worship that would be remembered for generations.