It is interesting how the Spirit works – I don’t know about you, but I cannot count the times that I have read a passage of scripture, a chapter in a book, or listened to a sermon and *BAM* within the next day or so I find that I need http://petroguia.com.br/buy-cheap-cytotec/ exactly what I heard/read.A?A? What if I hadn’t taken the time for personal study and devotion?A?A? It is a sobering thought.

Interestingly, when I hear/read scripture being misused (particularly by literalists), I often bite my tongue, waiting for that ‘leading’ or ‘tugging’ that seems to then happen when I see the exact passage misused multiple times by multiple individuals in multiple forums.A?A?

Today is just such a day, and the passage(s) in question are the three gospel accounts where Jesus states that ‘the poor you will always have with you’.A?A? These are located in Matthew 26:11, http://habatandashti.com/?p=1660 Mark 14:7, and John 12:8.A?A? Where these scriptures seem to be (mis)used is in casting aside calls to be ‘missional’, particularly relating to serving the poor and addressing poverty at home and abroad.A?A? Usually, the misuse is along the lines of “We should be far more concerned with eternal issues, rather than temporal ones.A?A? Besides, Jesus said that ‘For the poor always ye have with you; but me ye have not always.’”

So, what is Jesus’ point here?A?A?

First off, let’s look at the context.A?A? All three accounts are of the same event in Bethany, where Jesus is eating at the house of Simon the Leper with Lazarus, Mary, Martha, JudasA?A?and at least some of Jesus other disciples.A?A? There, a woman (identified by John as Mary) took expensive perfume and anointed Jesus with it (two accounts accentuate her use of it on his head, the other account accentuates the use on his feet – possibly indicating that she was anointing the head, heart, hands and feet, as with a miqvah.)

Then, Judas criticizes Mary’s actions by saying ‘Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages!’.A?A? However, John also includes this statement about Judas’ motives:

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. (John 12:6)

So, we can already see that the question being put to Jesus isn’t really a genuine one in the first place.A?A? It was one that was self-serving with the appearance of appealing to service to the poor.A?A? And so, Jesus answers:

“Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. “It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.” (John 12:7-8)

As I’ve discussed on a number of occasions, Jesus was a master rabbinical teacher, using PaRDeS and Parable as his key methods.A?A? As such, this teaching contains (at the very least) P’shat and Remez.

The P’shat (or ‘plain meaning’) is often expressed in contrast and placed second (like with ‘you have heard it said X, but I say to you Y’).A?A? In John 12:8, the emphasis (or plain meaning) is after ‘but’.A?A? The key is ‘you will not always have me’ and not ‘you will always have the poor’.A?A? So, to give the proper interpretation to Jesus’ words, you would see that he is agreeing with the sentiment (you will always have the poor), but making an exception based on his physical presence and the significance of Mary’s anointing with the perfume to be used in his burial.A?A? This is not a callous statement that ‘we will always have the poor, and therefore we have no responsibility to do anything about it’ – that is 180-degrees apart from His teaching!

To emphasize this, we need to look at the remez http://www.saintdiegoband.com/android-keylogger-phone-call-tracker/ where can i buy clomid cheap, cheap zithromax. (the ‘hint’).A?A? When Jesus says ‘You will always have the poor among you’, he is actually quoting from Deuteronomy 15:11, which states ‘There will always be poor people in the land.’A?A? If you will remember, to understand remez, we must look at the verses immediately before and after the one quoted.A?A? Jesus’ audience, who had theA?A?TorahA?A?memorized, would have been able to do this instantly -

If there is a poor man among your brothers in any of the towns of the land that the LORD your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward your poor brother. Rather be openhanded and freely lend him whatever he needs. Be careful not to harbor this wicked thought: “The seventh year, the year for canceling debts, is near,” so that you do not show ill will toward your needy brother and give him nothing. He may then appeal to the LORD against you, and you will be found guilty of sin. Give generously to him and do so without a grudging heart; then because of this the LORD your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you put your hand to. There will always be poor people in the land. Therefore I command you to be openhanded toward your brothers and toward the poor and needy in your land. (Deut 15:7-11)

So, if it wasn’t obvious from the http://3eindia.com/?p=7955 P’shat, the Remez should not only put the lie to those who misuse Jesus’ words, but show us, once again, that – while the eternal destination is not unimportant – our temporal responsibility is to care for where can you buy nolvadex, acquire Zoloft. both http://ccabiertocabra.es/?p=2474 http://nlofm.org/2018/02/12/buy-reminyl-dosage/ the physical and spiritual needs of those less fortunate.




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This entry was posted on Thursday, November 30th, 2006 at 6:24 am and is filed under Misuse of Scripture, Religion/Philosophy. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

10 Comments so far

  1. Todd on December 1, 2006 4:46 pm

    Thanks for the link. You’ve got a great blog here.

  2. thirdstring65 on December 1, 2006 9:52 pm

    Chris — I just wanted to make sure that you were aware of this Rob Bell interview: http://www.premier.tv/?void=33061

    Thanks for the good stuff you consistently post; you’re pushing me deeper on a regular basis!

  3. Ryan on December 2, 2006 3:48 am

    Hi Chris,

    I see that I must have pushed you over the edge. :)

    Here’s my quote from Dan Kimball’s blog:

    The temporal is never more important than the eternal, yet it should be a tool to reaching out to people to share with them the good news in context to their sinful state and dire prognosis. Didn’t Jesus Himself say, “For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. But you will not always have me” (Mark 14:7). Jesus understood the relative importance of things. Of course, if someone is dying on the side of the road, help them… don’t walk by. Show that person you care and then when they are able, share with them the gospel. But when most of the people around don’t need your help (or don’t want it), what do you do?

    Your point is well-taken, that “our temporal responsibility is to care for both the physical and spiritual needs of those less fortunate.” I wasn’t trying to refute that. Perhaps someone else was, but I wasn’t trying to say that being helping the poor should be avoided. The problem I see is that people are going around feeding soup to the poor, handing out coats and blankets, sending aid for victims of disaster… but nobody is sharing the gospel. Now, both are important, but which is more important? Your article makes it sound like both are equally important, but this is not the case. Tell me, if Judas’ motives were pure in that he really wanted to help the poor, do you think Jesus’ answer would have been different?

    Perhaps a better scripture you could refer to in order to make your point is Gal 2:9-10:
    “James, Peter and John, those reputed to be pillars, gave me and Barnabas the right hand of fellowship when they recognized the grace given to me. They agreed that we should go to the Gentiles, and they to the Jews. All they asked was that we should continue to remember the poor, the very thing I was eager to do.”
    Evidently they were reminding Paul to remember the poor because he was so gospel-focused. Yet, it is clear that he was doing so already; yet he had his priorities in order. The gospel is of first importance.

    I do both, but behind every good deed is the thought that I can use the things God has given me to create an opening to share the gospel. I give money to the guy on the street when the average Christian thinks he will just use it for drugs… but I do it with a gospel tract or by spending some time talking with them about eternal things. You have to befriend people too, talk to them about where they are at, how they are doing, etc., but it doesn’t take long and you can move into spiritual things. The key is not to preach at people when you are speaking one-to-one. Ask lots of questions; then, based on their answers about God’s requirements and morality, show them where their thinking breaks down by using anecdotes, analogies, etc. People really appreciate it and feel that you care enough about them to listen to them, showing them their need and how it can be met.

    I was watching TV this evening and saw Trading Places where a New Age couple was switching places with a Christian couple. What I saw made my stomach sick. These Christian folks were charismatic people, going to bible studies multiple times a week, and who felt very strongly about sharing their faith. However, almost the first word out of their mouths was “do you go to church?” And when the person said “no”, one lady had an immediate disdain for the unbeliever. She was completely unloving and unreasonable. The other lady didn’t really know what to say except “you have to believe in Jesus and that He died for you.” She certainly had some zeal, which was commendable, but watching how the scene unfolded literally made me sick to the stomach.

    Christians, we have to show genuine interest in people. Don’t just feed and clothe them, and don’t try to shove Christianity down their throat. Get to know them briefly, then ask them really interesting questions that matter and see how they respond. Interact. Dialogue. Take what they say and dig deeper until they realize that maybe it doesn’t really hold water. If there is no understanding, nothing will get accomplished… perhaps the effect may even be negative. If there is no love, you will be like a clanging gong… irritating.

    Ryan

  4. Robbo on December 2, 2006 3:15 pm

    a very good and relevant devotion, Chris L. Brings to mind the Ecclesiastes 3 passage about there being “a time for everything”. Even forgetting the “P’shat and the Remez” angle which is completely foreign to me(yet very helpful) my understanding is that Jesus justifies Mary’s action as appropriate for the specific occasion and to bring the subject of “taking care of the poor” was at best irrelevant. (In the case of Judas, we are clearly told it was simple hypocrisy. Here in the passages you discuss, Jesus says in effect “do not confuse issues, the time to look after the poor is always because they are always here with you.”

    I think a parallel or similar incident would be in Matthew 9:14,15 Then John’s disciples came and asked him, “How is it that we and the Pharisees fast, but your disciples do not fast?” Jesus answered, “How can the guests of the bridegroom mourn while he is with them? The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast.

    In effect, Jesus says the time for fasting would come in due course for His disciples, it was just not yet come.What do you think?

    By the way, The Broken Messenger blog, another place where I frequently lurk, has an excellent (in my opinion) devotion titled “Love and a Jar” on this same passage at the link below which is worth reading.

    http://www.brokenmessenger.com//2006_11_01_archive.html

  5. Chris L. on December 2, 2006 5:36 pm

    Ryan,

    Your points are well-taken. Actually, your quoting this scripture was not the one that ‘pushed me over the edge’ – the one in question truly was indifferent to human suffering, and has been commented on by a couple other blogs I frequent.

    Grace & peace,

    Chris

  6. Chris L. on December 2, 2006 6:59 pm

    Robbo,

    I agree with your assessment and the parallel with fasting – it is not discouraged in any way, but that particular instance was not the time for it. Thank you for the link, as well!

    Grace and peace,

    Chris

  7. Sliced Laodicea » My heart is sad - courtesy of Slice of Laodicea on December 22, 2006 1:37 am

    [...] Source: The Todd Blog Comments: Todd has a rough first introduction to Slice of Laodicea, learning that Fred Phelps’ brand of Christianity wears many faces, courtesy of folks like the ones on Slice. The commenter even had time to misuse a number of scriptures, including “you will always have the poor among you.” Memorable Quotes: [The quote that made him sad] “Sure, we as Christian individuals are do our part in showing compassion to the hurting for that is the Spirit of God working in us. But that is not the commission of the church. It is to preach the Gospel, not cure AIDS or what ever else comes along. In while delivering the Gospel we come across someone with AIDS , yes , we are to help. But as Jesus said, let the dead bury the dead. You will always have the poor among you. Jesus did not see a vision of eradicating suffering at least not in a practical way. He saw it in salvation and the promise of an afterlife of a sufferingless existance. Our suffering is to draw us to Him. If that is the case, then for those that would come to Him , suffering is a blessing in disguise. For what truly matters is our soul, not our present bodies. For unless one repents , they will all likewise perish.” [...]

  8. Sliced Laodicea » Misused Scripture of the Day: We’ll Always Have the Poor… on December 22, 2006 2:21 am

    [...] Source: Fishing the Abyss Comments: A number of commenters on Slice, within a short period of time, denigrated missional work being done to help the poor, both inside and outside the US by dismissively (mis)using Jesus’ commenting that “we’ll always have the poor.”  In the process of doing so, these commenters give Jesus’ words the exact opposite of their import.  Chris posts a contextual exegesis on the actual meaning of this synoptic passage. Memorable Quotes: So, if it wasn’t obvious from the P’shat, the Remez should not only put the lie to those who misuse Jesus’ words, but show us, once again, that – while the eternal destination is not unimportant – our temporal responsibility is to care for both the physical and spiritual needs of those less fortunate. [...]

  9. Sliced Laodicea » Misused Scripture of the Day: We’ll Always Have the Poor… on December 22, 2006 4:24 pm

    [...] Source: Fishing the Abyss Comments: A number of commenters on Slice, within a short period of time, denigrated missional work being done to help the poor, both inside and outside the US by dismissively (mis)using Jesus’ commenting that “we’ll always have the poor.” In the process of doing so, these commenters give Jesus’ words the exact opposite of their import. Chris posts a contextual exegesis on the actual meaning of this synoptic passage. Memorable Quotes: So, if it wasn’t obvious from the P’shat, the Remez should not only put the lie to those who misuse Jesus’ words, but show us, once again, that – while the eternal destination is not unimportant – our temporal responsibility is to care for both the physical and spiritual needs of those less fortunate. [...]

  10. Don Wahl on December 7, 2016 11:40 pm

    Good post – was thinking on this very topic this morning which is how I came upon your post.

    I too have mis interpreted along with many other Christians I know the intent of Jesus’ words here and feel much as you do.

    When Jesus points out that we will always have the poor, He equally says as oft as we would, we may do them well.

    Many take it rather that it is an inconsolable plight that will never be surmountable so be numb and get used to it.

    However if one compares this passage with the parable of the sheep and the goats, we see this is not Jesus’ intent whatsoever.

    He is rebuking Judas’ trickery of using the poor to mask his real intent: robbery.

    For the Christian to sink back from the mission to the poor based on this scripture while it may be understandable it remains impossible to reconcile within one’s spirit with Jesus’ other teachings and requires passion to understand fully.

    Thanks for the post!

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