What a Waste!


6 Now when Jesus was in Bethany, at the home of Simon the leper, 7 a woman came to Him with an alabaster vial of very costly perfume, and she poured it on His head as He reclined at the table. 8 But the disciples were indignant when they saw this, and said, “Why this waste? 9 “For this perfume might have been sold for a high price and the money given to the poor.” 10 But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why do you bother the woman? For she has done a good deed to Me. 11 “For you always have the poor with you; but you do not always have Me. 12 “For when she poured this perfume on My body, she did it to prepare Me for burial.”

Matthew 26:1-12

We have too often heard in the news of someone entering a school, church building or shopping mall, taking a weapon and start shooting people randomly. When all is said and done, the back-story tends to reveal some of the things that set this person off. When the facts start to be revealed, we often learn of someone who is usually disturbed about some particular issue who becomes fixated on one particular irritation and takes radical steps to vent their raging irritation, or they think they are “fixing” the problem. Their solution is often far more devastating to those around them and never really fixes the problem.

When Jesus was in Bethany at the home of Simon the leper, a woman surprises them by entering the home with a very expensive vial of perfume and pours it on Jesus’ head as he was at the table. (Mark indicates this is Mary of Bethany – Mark 14:5). All the disciples respond exactly the same way – they are indignant! Why? In their minds it was a waste, which basically means it was ruined. Their rationale is that it should have been sold and the money given to the poor. Jesus corrects them to justify her actions by stating she has done a good deed to him; she did this to honor Jesus by anointing him for his burial. It was an unselfish act of love and generosity. So much for stewardship…

While all of the disciples were indignant about this act of kindness, it was the “last straw” for one of them. Only a few verses later (14-16), Judas uses this as the moment that he snaps and heads off to the chief priests to arrange to betray Jesus. This one act of kindness towards Jesus infuriates Judas. He is so frustrated that Jesus did not stop this women from wasting this perfume that he plots to have Jesus killed. Why this indignation? Judas looked after the money and often helped himself to some of it for his efforts. In any event, this is the event that “sets Judas off” and in his own indignation goes out to find those with the power to destroy Jesus. Judas did not take a gun and shoot someone, but he goes out and hires someone who can.

Unfortunately this often reminds of some marriages… really. Wives tend to have a generous heart and want to do good deeds for others, even if it is costly. This is often responded to an intense indignation from husbands because this really screws up the stewardship (or his control on the money). I am not advocating or promoting that ladies should have permission to step out of bounds of a family budget, especially if they have not discussed and agreed as a couple on these acts of kindness. However, sometimes our wives are much more in line with honoring the Lord with good deeds while we stand back on the pedestal of “stewardship” and fire off our condemnation upon their actions. You and I both know that one of the great destroyers of marriage can revolve around money. Isn’t it intriguing that one person’s act of kindness for the Lord, can be met with such intense disdain from the very people who ought to honor Jesus above all else.

Jesus reminded his men that they always have the poor, but He was with them only for a short time. So the circumstances are a bit unique. We always have the poor and opportunity to care for them and do something that will encourage and meet their needs. Before we get too “indignant” at others because our perception of their generosity is clearly a waste of time, money, effort or anything for that matter, we need to realize that doing something good in the name of the Lord may not always be good stewardship, but it is not a bad thing either.

Pastor Brad Little