My Sister-in-Law Ann has been doing a Bible Study and posed an interesting question for me.
Her study involved a comparison between these two verses found in the Gospels.
The first is the rich man that asked Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life.
16. Now a man came up to Jesus and asked, "Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?"
17. "Why do you ask me about what is good?" Jesus replied. "There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, obey the commandments."
18. "Which ones?" the man inquired. Jesus replied, "`Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony,
19. honor your father and mother,' and `love your neighbor as yourself.' "
20. "All these I have kept," the young man said. "What do I still lack?"
21. Jesus answered, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."
22. When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.
23. Then Jesus said to his disciples, "I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.
24. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."
25. When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, "Who then can be saved?"
26. Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible."
27. Peter answered him, "We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?"
28. Jesus said to them, "I tell you the truth, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.
29. And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.
30. But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.
The same verse from Mark 10:17
17. As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. "Good teacher," he asked, "what must I do to inherit eternal life?"
18. "Why do you call me good?" Jesus answered. "No one is good--except God alone.
19. You know the commandments: `Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honor your father and mother.' "
20. "Teacher," he declared, "all these I have kept since I was a boy."
21. Jesus looked at him and loved him. "One thing you lack," he said. "Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."
22. At this the man's face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.
23. Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, "How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!"
24. The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, "Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God!
25. It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."
26. The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, "Who then can be saved?"
27. Jesus looked at them and said, "With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God."
28. Peter said to him, "We have left everything to follow you!"
29. "I tell you the truth," Jesus replied, "no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel
30. will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields--and with them, persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life.
31. But many who are first will be last, and the last first."
And here is the verse from John 18:18
18. A certain ruler asked him, "Good teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?"
19. "Why do you call me good?" Jesus answered. "No one is good--except God alone.
20. You know the commandments: `Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother.' "
21. "All these I have kept since I was a boy," he said.
22. When Jesus heard this, he said to him, "You still lack one thing. Sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me."
23. When he heard this, he became very sad, because he was a man of great wealth.
24. Jesus looked at him and said, "How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!
25. Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."
26. Those who heard this asked, "Who then can be saved?"
27. Jesus replied, "What is impossible with men is possible with God."
28. Peter said to him, "We have left all we had to follow you!"
29. "I tell you the truth," Jesus said to them, "no one who has left home or wife or brothers or parents or children for the sake of the kingdom of God
30. will fail to receive many times as much in this age and, in the age to come, eternal life."
The comparative verse concerns the woman that approached Jesus before his Crucifixion
with an alabaster jar of perfume and anointed Jesus.
6. While Jesus was in Bethany in the home of a man known as Simon the Leper,
7. a woman came to him with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, which she poured on his head as he was reclining at the table.
8. When the disciples saw this, they were indignant. "Why this waste?" they asked.
9. "This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor."
10. Aware of this, Jesus said to them, "Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me.
11. The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me.
12. When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial.
13. I tell you the truth, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her."
3. While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of a man known as Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head.
4. Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, "Why this waste of perfume?
5. It could have been sold for more than a year's wages and the money given to the poor." And they rebuked her harshly.
6. "Leave her alone," said Jesus. "Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me.
7. The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me.
8. She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial.
9. I tell you the truth, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her."
1. Six days before the Passover, Jesus arrived at Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead.
2. Here a dinner was given in Jesus' honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him.
3. Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus' feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.
4. But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected,
5. "Why wasn't this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year's wages. "
6. He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.
7. "Leave her alone," Jesus replied. "[It was intended] that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial.
8. You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me."
Simon the leper had invited Jesus (and all of His disciples) to dinner after being cured when Lazarus’s sister Mary pours a very expensive (likely costing her life’s savings) perfume normally reserved for kings on Christ’s feet and wipes them with her hair (only a prostitute normally untied her hair in public) – how much better it is to show love to someone before they die. Mary lovingly gave her best despite criticism and Christ honored her and defended her from evil attacks. We should similarly devote ourselves to the honor and mission of Christ. Martha’s question to Christ yesterday (Where were you when we needed you?) was the result of not really understanding His resurrection and life message until after He brought her brother back to life. Christ’s betrayer Judas, however, never understands and tries to sound spiritual by expressing concern for the poor that he surely did not feel (piety often cloaks hidden motives). John makes it fairly clear here that Judas was stealing from the disciples and may have been particularly interested in making as much as he could before Jesus died (remember that Jesus picked Judas fully knowing his character and demonic influence). While Jesus had given his disciples plenty of warning of the pending events, perhaps only Mary and Judas perceived that Christ’s death was imminent and therefore we have their two reactions to compare. Mary’s devotion angered Judas just as the success of Lazarus was angering the Sanhedrin.
It is of note that in John 12:10 it is stated that the high priests made plans to kill Lazarus when they killed Jesus.
As I read these two different stories it is apparent that the rich man wanted to buy his way into God’s Kingdom. His mindset was not ready for accepting Salvation for his god was wealth.
There is a story about the a Pearl of Great Prize that was the most awesome, beautiful jewel. An old man offered it to anyone that would give away all of their possessions to him. The catch was that if you accepted this Great Pearl, although the old man now owned all that you had including your wife and your children, he would loan them back to you. This is what the rich man did not understand. By giving up all that he owned he would be by far richer and receive a far better gift. He would be doing the Will of God.
As I read the story of the woman that anointed Jesus with perfume it is clear that she is doing God’s Will. The cost of the perfume is of no consequence to anyone save Judas. Jesus knew that He was to be executed by crucifixion and He knew that His Father would raise Him from the dead. It was the custom to anoint the dead. You will note that further along in the Gospels when the woman come to anoint the body of Jesus they find the tombstone is rolled aside and His body is gone. Like the rich man, Judas was interested only in what was in it for him. Judas saw through the eyes of the world. Yet he was there. He knew Jesus. He spoke with Jesus. He learned from Jesus and yet Judas never understood.