While his enemies were plotting to destroy Him, Yeshua was eating with His disciples in the house of Simon, a pharisee whom He had healed from Leprosy, and who had become one of His followers. They were in Bethany, where Yeshua’s friends Mary, Martha and their recently resurrected brother Lazarus lived. Mary believed Yeshua’s teachings that He would be killed. In her sorrow and love for her Master, she went out and spent a year’s worth of wages on one pound of precious, sweet-smelling perfume to anoint His body with. This was a great sacrifice to her, but worth every coin and every drop for her beloved Master.
But, something gave Mary hope that her Master was to triumph after all. So she brought this perfume to the feast to honor her Lord. In love and devotion, she poured the perfume on His head and feet, and then, weeping, wiped His feet with her hair.
The disciples murmured amongst each other. John recorded that Judas (who was soon to betray his Master) asked, “Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor?” (John 12:5, KJV)
Likewise, the disciples seemed to condemn Mary in their hearts, asking, “Why this waste?” (Matthew 26:8, NKJV)
“Why this waste?” The disciples were not all unified in their reason for asking this. Judas, the false disciple and traitor, condemned Mary (and indirectly condemned Yeshua, whom he professed to serve) by bringing up the use to which the cost of the perfume could have been spent, seeing the perfume being poured out upon the Lord as wasted. The other disciples may have agreed with Judas’ proposed intentions, thinking about all the good use the money could be put to in benefit of others. Perhaps, calling to mind their Master’s call to the rich young ruler to sell all his possessions and give to the poor (See Matthew 19:21), and knowing how their Master cared for the poor, even to the point that those who did not help them were condemned (see 25:31-46), they even believed or reasoned in their hearts that Judas’ concern was in harmony with their Master’s will and teachings.
But, though Judas wanted to stuff his own pockets, the Lord did not right then and there call out out His unfaithful disciple’s sin. Instead, He left that to be discovered later, and called their attention to an even greater, more important point. Even if Judas’ expressed concern had been born from true and perfect motives, there was something more important that the disciples did not yet understand.
“Why trouble ye the woman?” (Matthew 26:10 [first part], KJV) He asked, “for she hath wrought a good work upon me. For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always. For in that she hath poured this ointment on my body, she did it for my burial. Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her.” (Matthew 26: 10 [last part]-13, KJV)
John’s record of his Master’s response is shorter, leaving the point to stand out more clearly. The Lord explained that Mary had kept the ointment for His burial, and that they would always have the poor among them, but that He would not always be with them in person. (See John 12: 7, 8)
If only the disciples realized what they were saying when they complained about Mary and her “waste”. Why did they see this gift, given in pure love, this act of true devotion, as wasted, and condemn Mary as though she had poured it on the ground? Did they not value their Master? Of course they did (except for Judas). They loved and appreciated their Master, too, but they did not yet understand what was going to take place, nor the significance of the act. Perhaps Mary herself did not understand either. Nor could they read Mary’s heart, as Yeshua could. This gift was given with pure motives, and pure intentions, by a woman who truly wished to honor her Master, and it encouraged Him.
This is that same Mary who sat at Jesus’ feet some time before, listening to Him teach as her sister, Martha, busied herself around the house. Martha was busy working to serve the Lord and His disciples and her (or were they His?) guests. Mary was listening to her Master and learning from Him. Martha seemed to think that Mary was being lazy, not thoughtful or considerate of her needs or maybe Martha saw her sister as wasting time, when she should have been helping her to serve.
“Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” (Luke 10: 40, NIV) Martha complained.
Did Martha expect that the Lord would agree to her, and send Mary to help? Didn’t Martha ask in faith for this help?
But the Lord responded, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:41-42, NKJV)
Martha wasn’t necessarily wrong in preparing for and serving the Lord actively. Actually, God’s people are supposed to “serve one another” (See Galatians 5:13) and to work to save souls (See Mark 16:15), but she was wrong in believing that her sister should serve in the same way that she was, at the same time that she was serving. In this passage, the Lord did not directly tell Martha that she needed to sit down and listen to Him teach also. There is no record in this passage that He directly (though what He said to her can be seen as an indirect invitation) invited Martha to leave her work and join her sister. No, what He told Martha was that she was “worried and upset about many things” (Luke 10:41 [last part], NIV), but that her sister, Mary, had chosen what was needed. What Mary needed to do at that point was to sit and listen to Christ. Did Martha join her sister at Jesus’ feet, or did she keep serving in the way that she was (perhaps with less complaint)? The Bible doesn’t indicate which choice Martha made. What it did say was that Mary had made the right choice. No, Mary might not have been helping her sister in her work, actively serving the Lord, but she was not wasting time either. She was learning from the Master.
Whether it is time, resources, or money, nothing given to God is ever wasted. When a poor widow cast her two mites into the donation box at the temple, Yeshua commended her to His disciples (See Luke 21:1-4) . This widow had so little that perhaps some, if they had noticed and knew the poverty in which this woman lived, would have considered those two coins wasted. Perhaps those mites could have been spent on a little some bread to fill her grumbling stomach, but what good would those two mites do in the donation box? What significance would they have amongst or in comparison to the huge offerings given by the rich? But no, Yeshua knew that she had given all that she had, and that it would not be wasted. Not only does every coin add up, but the widow had given everything from a pure heart and pure motives. These would be registered in the book of Heaven, and her deed has been registered in the book of Luke also. About two thousand years later, her story is still being re-told to encourage thousands to give their all to God, and to know that God reads their hearts and appreciates what they give to Him if they give from pure motives, from the heart, in love, no matter how small and insignificant their offering may seem to them or (especially) to others, that God is pleased with them, because He knows that they have given their all.
When a young boy gave his lunch, five loaves of bread and two small fish, the disciples thought that they and Yeshua might be able to share the meal and each have a little, or that at least their Master might be able to eat something. Maybe the boy was giving this food in faith, believing that he too would be fed, that Yeshua would share a little with him. Maybe he had already eaten and was giving what he had left. Maybe he was giving in faith believing that Yeshua could multiply them and feed everyone. Or, maybe this boy thought he was making a sacrifice, giving the only food that he had to eat. The Bible doesn’t specify the boy’s thoughts or motives, but he gave them. The child’s offering of food was not only not wasted, but the Lord multiplied that small offering abundantly, so that not only were over five thousand people fed (there were five thousand men plus women and children), but twelve baskets of leftover pieces. God not only multiplied the offering, providing extra blessings, but re-affirmed His disciples that nothing should be wasted, not even the leftovers, by telling them to “gather up the fragments” (See John 6:1-14).
Even in the parable of the ten talents, the unfaithful steward’s talent, which was given back to the master upon his return, was not wasted. In this parable, the master represents God (more specifically, he may represent Yeshua Himself), and the unfaithful stewards represent God’s servants (or even more broadly, all those whom God has given talents and resources to, which is everyone). Two stewards, who had been given more than the one, traded and invested their talents, and their talents were doubled. The unfaithful steward was given only one talent. Perhaps he was lazy, or perhaps he really thought that he had so little that there was nothing he could do with it, and in fear of losing it he put it in a safe place. The unfaithful steward was punished for hiding the talent rather than trying to use it. To the unfaithful steward, this talent was wasted, but in God’s service, it was not. Though the unfaithful steward was cast out and did not get to take part in the joy of his Master and the faithful stewards, his talent, at his master’s command was taken from him and given to the steward that had been given the most (See Matthew 25:14-30), because that steward had proven himself faithful in using and multiplying what he had been entrusted with.
Nothing given to God is ever wasted, even when it is mis-used. When Judas betrayed his Master, he sold Him for the price of a slave, thirty pieces of silver. It is possible that the silver that was used to buy Yeshua was taken from funds that were donated to the temple, the priests, or the rulers–from some form of offering or perhaps even the tithe. Even though the money that was possibly given to God was mis-used by people who should have been serving Him for selfish and horrifying evil purposes (to kill their Creator and their only Hope of freedom from sin and their only Way to eternal life), it was still used to carry out God’s purpose and intentions of performing the ultimate sacrifice of His son, which was necessary for our survival (and eternal destiny, if we wish to be saved), but Judas, who accused Mary of wasting the oil, performed the ultimate waste. In selling his Master for 30 pieces of silver, he was selling his salvation. Judas traded eternal life in paradise with his Master for a measly thirty coins that he threw away before taking his own life. The money that he sold his soul for was no good to him, and was, as far as Judas was concerned, wasted (See Matthew 26:14-16, 27:3-6), though it was used to buy a potter’s field to bury the dead (and therefore still used and not fully wasted, it was wasted as far as Judas was concerned, and so was his life, except that his story lives on as a warning to us all, but in Judas’ case the lesson was wasted).
Though it can be wasted by the people who misuse it, and people who should have benefitted from it can be denied because of this misuse, nothing given to God is ever wasted. To withhold or steal from God for our own selfish purposes is waste, and to turn our backs on our Master, and betray our Lord, and sell our souls to the devil, whatever the price, is a waste. Why this waste?
Have you been wasteful? Give Him whatever you have left. As Him for wisdom as to what He would have you to do with what you still have. Ask Him to help you to redeem the wasted time, and show you what to do with it. Then, do something for the Lord.
Even if you have sold your soul to the devil, it’s not too late. God is able, “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace…” (Ephesians 1:7, KJV)
“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1st John 1:9, KJV)
You see, you have no authority to sell yourself to the devil. “You do not belong to yourself.” (1st Corinthians 6:19 [last part], NLT) You belong to Christ and God the Father, who created you (See John 1: 1-4, 14), and who bought you back again after the human race sold themselves to the devil by partaking of forbidden fruit and continuing in sin (See Genesis 3). You were redeemed by a price (See 1st Corinthians 6:20 and 7:23), which is the blood of Christ, the Son of God, and the Creator (See 1st John 3:16, John 3:16 and 1st Peter 1:18). It’s not too late to turn back to Christ, and he can rescue you.
But, He is alive. “Therefore he is also able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, seeing that he lives forever to make intercession for them.” (Hebrews 7:25, World English Bible)
“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16, NIV)
“But now having been freed from sin and enslaved to God, you derive your benefit, resulting in sanctification, and the outcome, eternal life.” (Romans 6:22, NASB)
“For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Romans 6:23, KJV)
But, you have to believe (See John 3:14-21, or John 3:16 and 18 for short).
Other Sources: Matthew 26, John 6, John 12, The Desire of Ages “The Feast at Simon’s House”, Art by Gustave Doré (public domain, from my understanding, though please correct me if I am mistaken, and I will remove it) found here.