Reading: Matthew 26:6-13
The curriculum for Day 3 this summer is Living in Lent. As we noted in last Friday’s devotion, the main text is John’s account of the crucifixion. An alternate text is all of Matthew 26. Here’s a summary of the action in that chapter: the chief priests and elders conspire to arrest Jesus; Judas Iscariot contracts to betray Jesus; Jesus serves the Passover meal and institutes communion; Jesus prays in Gethsemane; Judas betrays Jesus and he is arrested; Jesus is brought before the high priest; Peter publicly denies that he ever knew Jesus.
Near the beginning of all that Jesus and the disciples are in Bethany where a woman pours very expensive oil over Jesus’ head causing quite a stir among the disciples. Let’s look at that a bit.
The anointing literarily relieves the dark plotting of Jesus’ enemies. But why does the woman anoint Jesus? And why is it important enough for Matthew to record? He doesn’t say. He just writes it. Jesus characterizes it as “good work.” The disciples get upset because the oil is expensive and could have been put to better use, namely sold and given to the poor. Certainly that too is “good work” that Jesus encouraged and continues to urge. But, in this instance the better work is to adore Jesus.
The ongoing obligation of caring for the poor will always be an important and essential part of our discipleship. But sometimes focusing on that work can get in the way of our loving Jesus. Today we are reminded to keep Jesus central in our lives. Sometimes we need to just adore and love Jesus. The good work of serving the neighbor will flow from that worship. --Jim Bricker, Camp Mount Luther Chaplain to the Summer Staff
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