Friends: One of the many joys of my life is my connection with Cedarcroft Bible Chapel (their website is here) in New Jersey. The elders have me come every few months and preach on back-to-back Sundays. Together we discuss church matters, do some Bible studies together, and pray that God would bless their work.
My next trip to Cedarcroft will be September 29-October 8. I stay at my mother-in-law’s (she’s 92) while I’m there and catch up on episodes of “Little House on the Prairie”! I enjoy spending time with Mom.
The elders have asked me to speak on two topics on this next visit: our obligation to the poor and the issue of using our spiritual gifts in the local church. So, let’s begin working on the first topic — our responsibility to the poor.
We’ve all heard the expression “the poor you have with you always!” Yes, it was spoken by the Lord Jesus. And, no. It does not mean that we should not care for the poor. The account which gave rise to His saying these words is found in Matthew 26, Mark 14, and John 12. [I was a bit surprised that Luke doesn’t cover the event, for he shows a great deal of concern for the poor and the oppressed in his gospel]. Here is John’s account:
There are some differences in the details with the three accounts, but no real contradictions. Here is what I found:
All accounts say this event took place in Bethany. Matthew and Mark say it was in the home of Simon the Leper. John says it was a dinner given in Jesus’ honor (with the raised Lazarus there!) Neither Matthew nor Mark mention Lazarus being there.
Both Matthew and Mark say it was a “woman” who came to Jesus. John says it was “Mary.”
Both Matthew and Mark say she poured the perfume on his head. John says it was on His feet.
Both Matthew and Mark say the disciples/some of those present asked, “Why this waste? Why was the money not given to poor!” John’s account says that Judas raised the question!
Interesting that it is Mark who says about Judas making a deal with the chief priests to betray Jesus (one would have thought that it would have been in John’s account).
In our next post, we will examine John’s account in more detail. Is it ever right not to help the poor? (to be continued)