Now when Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, a woman came up to him with an alabaster flask of very expensive ointment, and she poured it on his head as he reclined at table. Matthew 26:6
Six days before Passover, Jesus and his disciples were at Bethany and they had been invited to eat at the house of a man named Simon. From John’s account, we also know that Simon had invited friends of Jesus, Lazarus, Martha and Mary. As he reclined at dinner, Mary came to Jesus, broke open the jar she had brought and poured the contents on his head and his feet. This pure act, of love for and worship to the Lord, was met with anger from the disciples and they turned on her saying, “Why this waste? For this could have been sold for a large sum and given to the poor.”
You can understand why the disciples were upset. Mary had used a costly ointment and the amount she had used equated to around a year’s wages. This could truly have fed and clothed a lot of people. For Mary, this was her Lord and her offering to him would be nothing less than the very best that she could give. She was unaware, however, that her sacrifice was actually preparing the Lord for his. Jesus was aware and he addressed the disciples,
“Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a beautiful thing to me. In pouring this ointment on my body, she has done it to prepare me for burial.”
Jesus was not making little of their concerns, but he did want them to focus on what was important in that moment – “For you always have the poor with you, but you will not always have me.” Jesus was telling them that there would be weeks and months and years ahead to look after the needy, ‘for everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven’ (Ecc3), but his time with them was drawing to a close and that was where their focus should be right now.
There is lots of different work to be done for the kingdom and many things that vie for our time. Let Jesus guide your focus and let him show you what is important for right now.