Did Jesus Dismiss the Poor?

Matthew 26:6-13
Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper, There came unto him a woman having an alabaster box of very precious ointment, and poured it on his head, as he sat at meat.
But when his disciples saw it, they had indignation, saying, To what purpose is this waste?
For this ointment might have been sold for much, and given to the poor.
When Jesus understood it, he said unto them, Why trouble ye the woman? for she hath wrought a good work upon me.
For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always.
For in that she hath poured this ointment on my body, she did it for my burial.
Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her.

When Jesus said, “For ye have the poor always with you,” did He dismissively condemn the poor to be overlooked or ignored?

Some seem to think so. At least that’s their attitude. “Oh, well, we can’t do anything about the poor. Jesus said we’ll always have them with us after all.”

Consider that a significant event was taking place. The time was not long before Jesus was tried and crucified. He was being anointed with oil by a woman.

Kings in Israel in times past had been anointed with oil. Jesus said the woman did it in preparation for His burial. Furthermore, her deed would always be remembered.

But He wasn’t being dismissive when he said the poor would always be with us. It’s a fact of life. It’s part of the human condition, brought on by the Fall from the time of Genesis 3.

What Jesus was trying to get across to the disciples is wrapped up in the second part of his sentence. “But me ye have not always.”

In other words, His time on the earth was short. It would come to an end soon, unlike the presence of the poor. There would always be time to do something for them. His soon coming death was more important for the moment.

In the Old Testament, Deuteronomy 15:11 mentions that the poor would always be around. Israel was told to be good to the poor. As time went on, they weren’t. And they suffered judgement for that, among many other things the Lord accused them of.

God isn’t going to go against His own benevolent character. Why would He take Israel to task for not caring for the poor, then be dismissive of them in the incident related above?

If our churches took care of their own–and if they had been doing so in decades past–we wouldn’t have so many government welfare programs today.

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Explore posts in the same categories: Christian Life, Helping Others, Thoughts from John

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