We Need a ‘Who’ more than a ‘What’

A woman pouring very expensive perfume on Jesus' head


“Why do you trouble the woman?”

I was reading my Bible and I find this incident hard to comprehend. Let’s take a look at it together. It’s in the book of Matthew, chapter 26.

10But when Jesus was aware of it, He said to them,“Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a good work for Me. 11For you have the poor with you always, butMe you do not have always. 12For in pouring this fragrant oil on My body, she did it for My burial. 

I find it interesting that, in response to a  legitimate and sensible comment by His disciples about selling a very expensive piece of fragrance and giving them to the poor, Jesus rebuked them.

I identified with these disciples a lot more than I had not hoped for. Rather than ‘wasting’ so much money you could have given to the poor, wouldn’t their suggestion have made much more sense? These questions have since plagued my mind as I carefully ponder what He meant when He rebuked His disciples to not bother the woman:

– Isn’t Jesus a servant?

During His time, as He roamed earth preaching about the Kingdom of God that is to come, bringing good news and healing people, Jesus have all but made it clear that He comes not to rule, but to serve. He taught His disciples that those who wanted to be great amongst themselves are to first be a servant. At the outset of His ministry days, He told His disciples to follow Him. I believe that Jesus did not only say for them to follow Him by where He goes, but also in His deeds.

If Jesus was indeed a servant, why then did He accepted the treatment of the woman, who treat Him as if He is a King?

– Doesn’t He love the poor and didn’t He teach us to feed the poor, clothe the naked, visit the prisoners, etc?

I noticed a striking paradox of Jesus’ behavior  while He lived amongst humans whom He Himself created. He, who is the King of Kings, who is the Lord of Lords, having the Name above all Names, who should have been hanging out with the rich, nobles and kings, shunned those of the higher status.

Instead, [tweet_quote]He enjoys the company of people who are rejected, people who are considered sinners, tax collectors, betrayers, the lepers, the sick, the poor and the Gentiles.[/tweet_quote] In fact, not only that He enjoys having them around, He purposefully seeks to spend His valuable time around with them. If I knew, like Jesus Himself knew very clearly, that my time on earth is limited to three years, and that my mission to spread the gospel of my Father on earth, I would have spent majority of my time rubbing shoulders with the rich, the celebrities, the rulers, the presidents and the kings. These A-listers would have made a better partners of Gospel, Inc.

Turns out Jesus have a different approach to make His gospel known throughout the entire world.

If Jesus did love the poor so much, why did He not advise the woman to sell the expensive fragrance and give the earnings to the poor instead?

As I study the pattern of Jesus’s behavior, I begin to understand why He accepted the glorious treatment from the woman.

Here are the reasons

1. He is King. 

The woman understood, more than Jesus’s own disciples, that Jesus is indeed the King above all Kings and that He deserves more than what He has received so far.

To Jesus, who are well aware of the time that is soon to come for Him to fulfill His purpose, this is one of the few ways that He may teach His disciples about valuing their personal self-image. His crucifixion is beckoning, afterall.

Jesus was and remains to be the only person with the healthiest and complete self-image that I have ever studied. He received the affirmation from His Father in Heaven as He was getting baptized. Even as He took up the temptation from the devil, He understood very clearly about who He was, why He has been sent, where and when HE will be sent. Thus, there was no hint of doubt in Him as He rebuked the devil easily three times.

The woman gave her greatest treasure to honor Jesus and Jesus rewards her faith by gracefully accepting her gift.

2. Church is the Body and Jesus is the head. 

The woman first poured the fragrance on Jesus’ head.

That act, to me, symbolizes the fact that Jesus was demonstrating to His disciples and everyone who is watching Him that the reason the church is called the “Body of Christ” is because we are called to be an extension of Jesus’ limbs. Jesus knows that eventually His mission will be taken up by His disciples who will eventually become the first Church.

Through the woman’s actions, Jesus demonstrated very clearly that regardless of the many possible levels of hierarchy in the church, Jesus should always be the head and all decisions are to be made based on what He has shown and taught.

3. They need Jesus more than they need money. 

Money is important and God gave us money so that we may use it to be a blessing to others. What we tend to forget though, was that for a lot of the poor and the sick who desperately needs money to survive or even to seek medical treatment, they actually need Jesus more than money.

Jesus made the comparison clear as He said, “… the poor you will always have with you, but Me you will not always have with you …” Jesus effectively says that, He is the Source of all things and the Healer. For the poor, give them Jesus and they will be satisfied. For the sick, give them Jesus and they will be healed. For the trouble minds, give them Jesus and they will receive peace.

Ultimately, through this little but significant act of love and respect from the woman, Jesus taught His disciples, and us too, that as we put Jesus as the center of it all, we get more than what we could imagine or ask for.

Discussion Questions: Do you often find yourself turning to Jesus for what He can give you, instead of for who He is? Which question do you ask more often, “What do I need?” or “Who do I need?” What can we do to change that attitude?

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