Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Fresh look at Matthew: Matthew 26, second take

In the story of the woman anointing Jesus, I have to wonder if there is a secondary lesson.  Don’t criticize others’ service.  The woman’s motivation was in the right place.  She made a sacrifice for the person who had forgiven her.  Either she knew something the others didn’t, or Jesus took it as an opportunity to interpret it that way, that is, that the anointing was in light of his death and burial in a few days.  This is a third lesson:  we have wildly imperfect perspective.  They saw it as a waste; Jesus saw the short- and long-term benefit of it in a totally different fashion than her critics did.

I am the worst in the world to analyze others’ service and say “they should have . . . “ I have no right to that.  My biggest target is “evangelotourism,” aka mission trips.   I think a lot of money is wasted on those that could be spent on more useful missions enterprises, and the people in the villages or churches in the foreign countries are being taught to depend on the U.S. (or that they are incompetent to build their own church, etc.)  So that’s my opinion . . . . So what? 
Perhaps Jesus is chiding their habit of quickly jumping to ignorant judgment; perhaps he is also defending a woman against their rampant misogyny.  He is affirming the woman, too.  It’s a wonderful account, and unfortunately people only see one statement, “The poor you have with you always.”  Well, yes, we do.  Do we have any fewer poor today than then, despite all our efforts?  Maybe a lower percentage, but poverty is still there.  Paraphrase:  “The poor are always available for your help.  Why are you taking advantage of this woman to be self-righteous?  You don’t know her heart or the long-term meaning of what she is doing.  Stay quiet.”  

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