Image source: WisdomHuntersBlog
“The poor you will always have with you” – is a saying from Jesus in Mark 14:7 and John 12:8. It is part of the story where Mary poured nard oil on Jesus, and in response Judas said this expensive perfume should have been sold to help the poor; John 12:6 says Judas the team treasurer, did not really care about the poor, he wanted the money because he was stealing some of it for his own personal use.
What did Jesus mean, when he said the poor you will always have with you? Should this make us less concerned about the poor? Jesus was compassionate to harassed and helpless people, and was on a mission to represent the love of God to all humanity. Why then did he say ‘the poor you will always have with you’?
Deuteronomy 15:7-11 (NIV)(shortened) says: “If anyone is poor among your fellow Israelites… do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward them… do not show ill will toward the needy among your fellow Israelites and give them nothing… Give generously to them and do so without a grudging heart… There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your fellow Israelites who are poor and needy in your land.”
Israel already had clear divine principles on how to care for the poor – those who have should give generously to the poor. While it looks like Jesus just made a simple response to Judas, in reality he was quoting from Deuteronomy, to remind Judas of the divine solution to the poverty problem.
God’s solution to never ending poverty, is never ending generosity! The poor will always be with us, so too those who have a little more than enough will also always be with us – and they have been called upon to be openhanded, not to be hardhearted or tightfisted, to be openhanded and generous to the poor.
Lord, convict us to be generous to the poor in our community, Amen!