“Now when Jesus was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, a woman came up to him with an alabaster flask of very expensive ointment, and she poured it on his head as he reclined at table” (26:6-7). The disciples were indignant because of this woman’s ministry to Jesus. They were missing something very important. Caring for the poor, giving to those less fortunate than ourselves, giving away our coats in the winter to those who need them, visiting the prisoner, well, all these things are good and are commanded by Scripture. The prophets spoke of these matters; for instance, “See that justice is done, defend widows and orphans and help those in need” (Isaiah 1:17, CEV). It is always good to do good.
This woman, though, understood the priority of loving God. Just four chapters back in Matthew’s Gospel, in answer to the Pharisees’ question about the greatest of the commandments, Jesus said, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-39). We must always be sure, as we are doing good, that we are loving our God supremely.
O worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness;
bow down before him, his glory proclaim;
with gold of obedience, and incense of lowliness,
kneel and adore him: the Lord is his name. --John S. B. Monsell (19th century)