“Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, when a woman came to Him with an alabaster jar of the most expensive ointment and poured it on His head as He was at the table. When they saw this, the disciples were indignant; “why this waste?” they said, “This could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.”
Jesus noticed this. “Why are you upsetting this woman?” He said to them. “What she has done for Me is one of good works indeed!” You have the poor with you always, but you will not always have Me. When she poured this ointment on My body, she did it to prepare Me for burials. I tell you solemnly, wherever in all the world this Good News is proclaimed, what she has done will be told also, in remembrance of her.” (Matthew 26:6-13)
Jesus was at a leper’s house having dinner. He wasn’t disgusted by Simon’s condition whereas everyone else probably thought He was crazy to go to a leper’s house! They are enjoying a nice dinner when a woman comes in with a jar of the most expensive ointment that can be bought–spikenard. Spikenard is very aromatic and was a spice used in burying royalty and the wealthy. She just walked up to Him and poured it over His head! He received her gift of the “good work” just as He receives our good works for others we come across. He said, “when you do it to the least of these My brethren, you do it for Me.”
Jesus differentiated between a “good work” and giving alms to the poor. A good work or charitable deeds are considered superior to almsgiving. Why? Because of the personal love that is shown in the act of doing something kind and good to someone else. Money can be impersonal unless it is given directly to the person. For example, putting money into a fund for the poor is impersonal, but going up to a person and giving them $20 and saying “God loves you” is very personal and will impact that person in a more powerful way.
His disciples got offended at the waste of this valuable ointment when they compared the number of poor people they could have helped with money received from selling it. The most notable critic was Judas Iscariot, who was the pilfering treasurer of Jesus’ ministry. Jesus’ reaction was great! He said, “why are you upsetting this woman?” Here she was pouring her heart of love for Him with the best gift she had to give Him and she was being chastised for it! The disciples were not walking in love towards this woman and Jesus called them on it.
Often our “good works” are misjudged by others and we are criticized for it, but Jesus sees the heart of worship in it all. Yes, we do need to give money to help the poor and that too is a “good work” but there is something special about face to face good deeds to show the love of God to a lost world. It has a greater impact and also has great value to God. Even today, here on this blog, the words of Jesus are fulfilled about this woman. “I tell you solemnly, wherever in all the world this Good News is proclaimed, what she has done will be told also, in remembrance of her.”
Beloved, look for opportunities to do good works every day in addition to your helping the poor. Jesus is very pleased with it!