Jump Start # 3048
Matthew 26:10 “But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, ‘Why do you bother the woman? For she has done a good deed to Me.”
Recently I preached a sermon I called, “Little girls to Godly Women.” In working on that, I discovered at least three different times that Jesus defended women. And, the Lord didn’t just stand up for the women in these occasions, but verbally defended them before synagogue officials, His own disciples and before crowds. Now, for us, in our times, we’d say, ‘That Jesus was a nice guy for doing that.’ In His time, that was off the charts. Women didn’t really count. No one really cared what they said. One of the Jewish synagogue prayers that has been left for the ages said, “Lord, I thank Thee that I am not a Gentile, not a slave and not a woman.” The first to see the resurrected Jesus was women. The first recorded words that the resurrected Jesus spoke was “Woman, why are you weeping?”
Our verse is taken from the time Mary anointed the head of Jesus with costly perfume. She did this before the others. You can just see them all watching her. The smell would have filled the room. Now, this wasn’t any cheap cosmetic perfume. It was expensive, very expensive. It would have been saved for a wedding. Mark quotes the disciples complaining that the perfume could have been sold for 300 denarii. That would have been three hundred days wages. Imagine having some perfume that cost about a year’s salary. What do you make a year, $50,000, maybe $100,000? Imagine having bought perfume that costs that much. You wouldn’t let the kids touch it. Most of us wouldn’t have it setting out on a counter or a shelf.
The disciples became indignant. The Common English is more blunt. “They were angry,” it says. And, then they say, “What a waste.” This could have been sold and the poor helped. About that time, this woman is likely feeling pretty embarrassed and low. In that culture, she will not openly say anything in her own defense. But Jesus did. He not only praised her for this act of love, He also showed that she understood what was coming. And, then to top it off, the Lord said, wherever the gospel is told, this story will be a part of it. The disciples were wrong. Jesus defended this woman. He praised her and even honored her.
Jesus defended this woman. He also defended the sinful woman in Simon’s house who washed His feet with her tears. He also defended the bent over woman after the synagogue official lost his cool because she was healed on the Sabbath. Speaking out for those who cannot. Defending what is right. Not being afraid to stick your neck out for others. Supporting those who extended love to the Lord.
There are some great lessons here for us:
First, it is easy to jump on the band wagon and join in with the mob and complain and criticize. We do this with politics. We can do this with things down at the church house. Rather than thinking things though and thinking for ourselves, we allow the emotions of the moment to get the best of us. Social media excels in this. Ranting and pointing fingers without all the facts and all the details is common practice for so many. Judas led the way in complaining about the wasted perfume. He did this because he had sticky fingers and used to steal from Jesus. Slow to speak and slow to anger are powerful reminders of the direction we ought to travel in.
Second, there are times when we need to defend what is not popular or what others are wanting. We defend because it is the right thing to do. Jesus stood between the angry verbal attacks and these women He defended. The women were right. Jesus passed through the cultural dos and don’ts of His time to defend them and to defend them in front of men.
It is good for shepherds to defend preachers when they are in the right. Sermons have a way of stepping on toes. Some get upset. Some get so upset that they want to rip the preacher to shreds. I’ve had people get up and walk out while I was preaching. One guy told me that he felt it was best if I left. One of the elders overheard that. He came and put his arm around that guy and said, “I’m sure going hate to see you leave, because our preacher is staying. So, if you want a different preacher, you’ll be leaving.” He defended me. It’s sad to see a young preacher having to stand alone to face critics when he has spoken the truth. Paul told young Timothy to preach even if it is out of season. This is the cause for many young preacher to quit. No support. No one in his corner. Now, if he has done something wrong, he needs to be talked to in a proper way. But far too often, subjects of morality, divorce, social drinking, modesty hits a bit too close to home for some. Rather than change one’s ways, they’d rather chew a young preacher out. Shame on elders that stand back and allow that to happen. Jesus defended this woman. Something to think about.
Third, there comes a time when we need to defend the Gospel and the Lord’s church. Paul, in Philippians was set for the defense of the gospel. Are we? We allow family members, disgruntled members and those who no longer walk with the Lord to take all kinds of pot shots at the Bible and God’s people. The internet is the playground for these things. Now, it’s a waste of time to argue with a fool. But when one takes wide swipes at the church in general, there comes a time to stand up, speak up and support what we believe in.
Someone may have a bad experience going out to eat. The food was lousy, over priced and the service was bad. You may not go back to that place, but you don’t stop going out to eat. Someone may have had a bad experience with a congregation. Maybe they were cold, indifferent and dead. You may not go back to that congregation, but you don’t stop worshipping God and assembling with God’s people.
Defending what is right puts you on the front line of the battlefield. It may pull you into a dog fight that you don’t want to be a part of. But your silence may allow critics to have their day and a good person to be crushed by the blows of others.
Think about these things…