“Leave her alone,” said Jesus. “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me”. Mark 14, verses 6-7.
You know, if these words were uttered in 2016, I suspect some of us would jump to be offended by them. “How dare Jesus insinuate that we don’t do enough to help the poor!” “How rude of Him to insinuate that there will always be poor people!” “How dare Jesus say He’s better than us because He says He deserves to have a priceless bottle of perfume poured on Him!” Pretty shrill, don’t you think?
Yet I truly do think that we, as a society, really do sound that shrill. Our tone wouldn’t be about Jesus: it would be about us…just like that of Judas and the Apostles who were dissing the woman with the perfume. After all, social media is ‘all about me.’ The best description I’ve ever heard about Facebook is that “it’s an inch deep and a mile wide.” That plays well for the shrill age of offense. If you troll online boards, you’ll find that complaints about being offended are a common and recent topic. With so many factors bombarding our lives, it seems as if folks today find all kinds of reasons to be offended. Turn those around and you quickly see that being offended isn’t about Jesus: it’s about me and you.
Don’t be surprised, then, to hear that it’s nothing new. Whatever Judas’ motive, both he and the other Apostles were offended by the woman who anointed Jesus with the expensive perfume. Is it surprising, then, that Jesus would rebuke them on it? What’s more, He not only rebuked them: He told them to back off, then reminded them of why she was doing it. Doesn’t that still happen to you and I? Aren’t we offended when someone rebukes us with things that we don’t want to hear, especially if those things are true?
What’s more, Jesus gave them a dose of reality. To paraphrase, “I’m the Son of God and my human life is almost over. Poor people aren’t the Son of God and they’re going to be around for a very long time. Get with the program, boys.” Jesus not only shamed Judas (and anyone who agreed with him) for his sin of pride, but He schooled them (read ‘taught,’ not ‘humiliated’) on why it was important that this woman’s act of faith be honored. Millenia down the road, it’s easy to see that we need the schooling as well. We need to be reminded that the Son of God is worth setting apart, worth honoring, worth dedication and remembrance with the best things this life has to offer. That’s a very real thing to recognize because it brings the real Jesus of AD 33 into the real world of AD 2016.
Knowing all that, I wonder how many people are still offended. Call me skeptical, maybe even cynical, for predicting that countless folks are still looking for a reason to be offended by the Son of God and the very radical ministry He performed. Go ahead and blow up my email for this. It’s ok. I’m not offended. If it means you’re focusing on Jesus in your heart, then offend all day long.
Lord, may any offense in this world bring You glory and spread Your Word.
Read Mark 14, verses 1-11.