“Then, six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was who had been dead, whom He had raised from the dead. There they made Him a supper; and Martha served, but Lazarus was one of those who sat at the table with Him. Then Mary took a pound of very costly oil of spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil. But one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, who would betray Him, said, ‘Why was this fragrant oil not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?’ This he said, not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the money box; and he used to take what was put in it. But Jesus said, ‘Let her alone; she has kept this for the day of My burial. For the poor you have with you always, but Me you do not have always.’”
Jesus Commended Mary for Anointing Him with Fragrant Oil and Rebuked Judas for Criticizing Her
Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead, who was the brother of Mary and Martha. Grateful for this, Mary and Martha held a feast in Jesus’ honor. What’s more, Mary brought a pound of very costly oil of spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus, and washed His feet with her hair. The house was then filled with the fragrance of the oil.
Judas, one of the disciples of Jesus, resented what Mary was doing. So he criticized Mary, saying to her, “How can you waste such expensive fragrant oil?” The oil that Mary poured on the feet of Jesus was very costly, worth a full year’s salary for an average worker. Judas thought that this was a waste, but he saw Jesus just sitting there without rebuking Mary. So he took it upon himself to rebuke her instead.
Judas said to Mary, “Why did you waste this expensive fragrant oil when it could have been sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” When Judas said this, neither Lazarus nor the other disciples of Jesus said anything. They remained quiet because Judas seemed to have a valid point. But despite this criticism from Judas, Mary had no regrets. Of course, Mary also knew very well that if the fragrant oil was sold and the proceeds given to the poor, it would have fed and helped many. But Mary had prepared for Jesus’ funeral in advance, knowing that Jesus would die on the Cross for her sins. In other words, she was expressing her gratitude to Jesus beforehand.
Judas is the man who, after following Jesus as his teacher, ended up betraying Him for money. At that time, the fragrant oil that Mary poured on Jesus was worth enough to purchase a field of 7,000-10,000 square feet. So Judas, who did not know the grace of God, couldn’t help but think in his mind that Mary’s act was a waste of money. He just couldn’t appreciate what was in Mary’s mind when she anointed Jesus’ feet with the oil. Mary was willing to offer Jesus everything she had without any hesitation because she knew that Jesus was the Messiah and the Savior. As Mary knew that Jesus had borne all her sins and would die on the Cross, she was rejoiced to anoint the Lord with the priceless oil.
Although Judas was a disciple of Jesus, he did not believe that Jesus was the Son of God. He just thought that Jesus was an outstanding figure among men, and that’s why he was following Him. He called Jesus “Rabbi” instead of “Lord” to the very end (Matthew 26:25, 49). Judas did not realize that Jesus was the Son of God and his Savior who could save him from all sins through the gospel of the water and the Spirit, and that’s why he ended up betraying Jesus for 30 pieces of silver.
Jesus then rebuked Judas for criticizing Mary. He said, “Let her alone; she has kept this for the day of My burial. For the poor you have with you always, but Me you do not have always.” Like this, far from rebuking Mary, the Lord actually commended her.
It Is More Worthwhile to Pour Fragrant Oil on Jesus’ Feet Than to Help the Poor
Which is more worthwhile: Helping the poor for a while, or pouring the fragrant oil on the feet of Jesus for the day of His burial? It is more worthwhile to pour the fragrant oil on Jesus’ feet. Between sending thousands of bags of flour to Somalia and offering whatever little money to the Lord to spread the gospel of the water and the Spirit, which is more important? It is more important to make your offering to the cause of spreading the gospel of the water and the Spirit. We must remember that the money spent for the work of God is far more worthwhile than the money spent for any other cause in the world.
Mary spent her possessions for Jesus, and more broadly, for the gospel of the water and the Spirit. The Bible says that when Mary anointed the feet of Jesus with no less than a pound of oil and washed His feet with her hair, the room was filled with the fragrance of the oil. Here we must realize the fact that the contributions we make for the spreading of the gospel of the water and the Spirit enable many to receive the remission of sins. That’s because just as the room was filled with fragrance, so would the gospel of the water and the Spirit also spread all over the world. Like this, we should serve the gospel trusting that the offerings we make for the sake of the gospel go a long way to help others to receive the remission of sins.
The Lord commended Mary for what she did. He said that everywhere the gospel is preached, her deed should be remembered. Mary knew beforehand that Jesus would die on the Cross, and that’s why she brought her most precious treasure and prepared for the Lord’s burial beforehand. Jesus told us to remember Mary’s act of offering her treasure for the sake of the gospel. The proclamation of the gospel of the water and the Spirit is achieved through such people like Mary—that is, through those who can offer a pound of spikenard to the Lord for the gospel. I believe that it is because there still are many saints like Mary that the gospel of the water and the Spirit is being spread.
Jesus said, “I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me.” Everything is in Jesus. In Jesus there is salvation, in Jesus there is the righteousness of God, in Jesus there was the creation of the world, and everything in this world is in Jesus. Jesus became our Savior when we were sinners. We should therefore offer our everything to this Jesus. We should spend our possessions for the gospel of the water and the Spirit and offer all our strengths, abilities, and gifts to the Lord. Spreading the gospel of the water and the Spirit is the most precious work on this earth, and the money that’s spent for the gospel of God is the money that’s spent for the worthiest cause in the world. Offering the material possessions of the world to the service of the gospel of the water and the Spirit is serving God Himself.
When Jesus comes again in His glory with all the holy angels, He will sit on the throne of His glory to judge all the nations. He will gather all people before Him and separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the righteous on His right hand, but the sinners on the left (Matthew 25:31-33). Jesus will then say to the righteous at His right side, “Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me” (Matthew 25:34-36).
The righteous at His right hand would then be puzzled and ask Him, “Lord, when did we take care of You?” Jesus will then say to them, “What you’ve done to the born-again who believe in Me, you’ve done it to Me. So I want to reward you.”
Offering Your Material Possessions for the Spreading of the Gospel of God Is the Most Precious Work
It is a precious work for one to offer his material possessions to the Lord and himself no matter in what position he is. Jesus said that wherever the gospel is preached, it should be remembered how Mary had anointed His feet with fragrant oil. In other words, Jesus said that such acts should be encouraged. Whether your offering to God is big or small is not what’s important. The very fact that you are offering your entire self to the work of God, and that you are spreading the gospel of the water and the Spirit by offering your treasures, is itself precious. The money that you offer to God is spent for the gospel. It is being spent for a truly worthwhile cause to save countless souls all over the world that still have not received the remission of sins.
Mary offered her treasures to Jesus, and the whole house was filled with fragrance because of this. Likewise, when the born-again saints offer their treasures to spread God’s gospel of the water and the Spirit, it is on account of these offerings that the world is filled with the knowledge of the true gospel as the waters cover the sea (Isaiah 11:9). Do you believe so, my fellow believers? We must use our material possessions appropriately. We must realize that it is when our material possessions are used for the work of God that our treasures find the most precious, worthy, meaningful, and worthwhile use. These possessions should not be used for ourselves or for some ephemeral cause in this world, but for God Himself. That’s because the work of spreading the gospel of God is the most precious task in the world.
Not only is it important for us to offer our treasures to the Lord, but it is also equally important for us to know how to use such offerings most effectively. We use our resources mainly to spread the gospel of the water and the Spirit. Your precious contributions are used to finance our literature ministry all over the world and to plant new churches in Korea. They are being used for the most precious cause, to bring new life to every soul throughout the whole world. Isn’t this then the worthiest way to spend your money? After all, what could be worthier than saving each and every soul?
You are now offering your material possessions to the most valuable work. Indeed, you are spreading the pure and wonderful fragrance of the gospel throughout the entire world. Your contributions are even more precious because you have offered them to God when you could have easily spent them for yourself. I do not believe that your offerings are made only after ensuring an opulent lifestyle. I am sure that you have tightened your belt to offer as much as possible to God. Such precious contributions are now being used to spread the gospel of the water and the Spirit, and this is the most worthwhile work. Just as the whole house was filled with fragrance when the oil was poured on the feet of Jesus Christ, so will the gospel of the water and the Spirit cover the whole world on account of the treasures that we offer to God. These treasures that we use for the gospel are indeed priceless treasures.
Referring to a virtuous wife, the Book of Proverbs says,
“Who can find a virtuous wife?
For her worth is far above rubies.
The heart of her husband safely trusts her;
So he will have no lack of gain.
She does him good and not evil
All the days of her life.
She seeks wool and flax,
And willingly works with her hands.
She is like the merchant ships,
She brings her food from afar.
She also rises while it is yet night,
And provides food for her household,
And a portion for her maidservants.
She considers a field and buys it;
From her profits she plants a vineyard.
She girds herself with strength,
And strengthens her arms.
She perceives that her merchandise is good,
And her lamp does not go out by night” (Proverbs 31:10-18).
And it is also written, “Her husband is known in the gates, When he sits among the elders of the land” (Proverbs 31:23). What does this passage mean? It means that when her good work is done, the virtuous wife goes to the gate of the city and gives all credit to her husband, saying, “It’s all because of my husband’s instruction that everything worked out so well.” The Lord, who is our Groom, wants us to be such a virtuous wife to Him. The virtuous wife refers to none other than us, who have received the remission of sins and are working to spread the gospel all over the world.
Our material possessions should be used for the gospel of the water and the Spirit. All of us should realize clearly that our treasures must be used for a worthwhile cause, and that the way to do so is to spend them on the work of God.
I give all my thanks to our Lord who has saved us and enabled us to use our treasures for His true gospel.