That Pivotal Moment – An Easter Meditation
By Rachael S. Loukonen
Why would you put your time, talent, and treasure into the mission of St. Matthew’s House when Jesus said the poor would always be with us? Since taking on the mantle of Chairman of the Board for St. Matthew’s House, I have often received this question. The question tests human logic against the truths of the Bible. If the Bible is true, then you are wasting your resources.
The answer is simple, and it is found in the actions of a woman who recognized the significance of Jesus and the impending events of Easter.
More than 1,000 years before Jesus’ birth, the scriptures began to provide us with specific information about Jesus and His ministry. Easter was that pivotal moment when the promise of the scriptures were fulfilled in Christ Jesus. The early Christians simply, yet extraordinarily, summed up Easter as follows: Jesus suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, buried, and on the third day He rose again from the dead and ascended into Heaven. This is the gospel – the good news! Jesus is risen!
Yet, as to this woman, Jesus said, “Truly I tell you, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.” (Matt. 26:13).
Prior to the betrayal, crucifixion, and resurrection, Jesus went to Simon the Leper’s home in Bethany. There, a woman came to Jesus with a very expensive jar of perfume, which she used to anoint Jesus. The woman’s decision caused the disciples to become indignant at her wasteful gesture. “This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.” (Matt. 26:9). Jesus responded, “Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me. When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial.” (Matt. 26:10-12).
The disciples’ outrage would have been a logical human response. They are in Bethany (meaning “house of the poor”) at the home of Simon the Leper (the “sick one”). They probably walked past many poor people in Bethany only to find themselves in the home of a man that could have also benefited from them selling the perfume.
Why, then, would Jesus forego an opportunity to give money to the poor, and, instead, bestow honor upon the senseless actions of this woman?
Not only did this woman anoint Jesus with a special ointment reserved for kings, she somehow recognized that Jesus was going to die. At the same time, Jesus knew that Judas, who had been stealing money from the disciples’ treasury, only intended to sell the perfume for his personal benefit. This event set in motion Judas’ betrayal. It also prepared Jesus and the disciples for the crucifixion and resurrection and beyond.
Jesus’ statement on the poor, pulled from Deuteronomy 15, would have reaffirmed God’s commands. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” (Deut. 6:4) Out of this love, obey the Lord’s commands so that it may go well with you and you may always prosper. (Deut. 6). Out of obedience to God, be openhanded and freely give to the needy. (Deut. 15).
In short, because people do not obey God’s commands, there will always be needy people. We are repeatedly commanded to show our obedience to God by loving one another in charity, but, most importantly, by bringing people to love Christ Jesus. Giving money to the poor is a short-term solution. Only a relationship with Jesus, the Living Water (John 4:13) and the Bread of God (John 6:32), transforms a life forever. Before Jesus ascended to Heaven, His parting command was to make disciples and teach them to obey everything I have commanded. (Matt. 28:19-20).
This is why I serve. To see lives transformed through a relationship with Christ Jesus! Because, if everyone loved and followed God’s commands, there would be no poor and needy.