“But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was about to betray him), said, “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it. Jesus said, “Leave her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of my burial. For the poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me.” (John 12:4-8)
You can rest assured that whenever somebody does something for the Lord Jesus Christ and the kingdom of God, there will be those who will sit back and find fault with whatever was accomplished. This does not mean we should not be discerning when certain things are done which are not in keeping with Scripture. However, there are those times when an act of sincere and biblical worship is criticized by those whose worship is questionable at best.
This is where the phrase “no good deed goes unpunished” is applicable. The phrase ‘ is a sardonic or sarcastic commentary on the frequency with which acts of kindness backfire on those who offer them. In other words, those who help others are doomed to suffer, or be criticized, as a result of their helpful act.
Mary’s anointing of Jesus was an act of a singular and un-pressured worship. No one compelled her to do what she did or forced her to give away this extravagant perfume. It was her way of honoring her Lord. It was her gift to Jesus.
However, Judas Iscariot took issue with what she did. He condemningly asked, apparently within earshot of everybody at the dinner including Mary, “Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” Remember, this nard belonged to Mary or her family. It was theirs to do with as they pleased. Judas had no particular place or position in which to question her actions. We should note that three hundred demarii was equivalent to a year’s wages.
John, however, comments about the real reason behind Judas’ remark: “He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag he used to help himself to what was put into it.”
Jesus immediately took charge of the situation and commanded Judas to leave Mary alone. Jesus explained that whether Mary realized it or not, her singular act of devotion pointed to His death and burial. Although this type of anointing would normally take place following death, Jesus equated her act as if she had done it while He was still alive.
Dr. R.C. Sproul comments that, “Our Savior responds by noting that Mary’s act is fitting because it anticipates His burial. There is a correct time to help the poor, but in light of what is immediately ahead, it is right for Mary to give a gift to the Savior (vv. 7–8). She is not exercising poor stewardship by honoring Christ instead of using the perfume to help the needy.”
Dr. Sproul concludes by saying, “Scripture repeatedly calls us to help the impoverished. However, this is not all that we are called to do with our resources. It is appropriate to use our resources in other ways that honor Christ and His church, and it is a matter of wisdom for each of us to steward our financial means effectively. Let us ask God to grant us the wisdom to allocate what He has given us in the proper way.”
Let’s also resolve that the next time someone does something for the Lord, which is sincere and biblical, we will think twice about finding fault with what was done and how it was done. Just a few words to the wise.
Soli deo Gloria!