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—MATTHEW 26:1-16.—OCTOBER 30.—
Golden Text:—"She hath done what she could."—Mark 14:8 .
IN a previous study we considered the Great Teacher's triumphal entry into Jerusalem on an ass, and his tender of himself to the Nation of Israel as their King, in fulfillment of the prophecy of Zechariah 9:9-12. That was five days before the Passover. For several days Jesus taught in the temple, going at night to the home of Lazarus, Martha and Mary at Bethany. He knew what to expect—that his hour was come. He knew that even then the chief priests and elders of the people were considering his destruction and hesitating only lest it should cause tumult. Their indignation against the Great Teacher was that he did not teach as they taught and that his teachings had much more power with the masses than all their teachings combined. Anger, envy, hatred, united in branding him as an impostor and in sending him to his death, "for the good of the cause."
The feast at Bethany referred to in this study may have been on the night before our Lord's betrayal, two days before the feast of Passover. But the concensus of opinion seems to be that it occurred on the Sabbath evening preceding the triumphal ride to Jerusalem. It matters not, however. There was such a feast. Jesus and his disciples were present. During the feast a woman approached with an alabaster flask of very precious perfume. She poured it upon his head and the entire room was sweet with the odor. The woman was Mary, the Sister of Lazarus and Martha.
Another account shows that the protest made by the disciples against this as a waste was instigated by Judas, the treasurer of the little company of the Lord's disciples. John remarked that he was a thief and carried the bag and intimated that he was more interested in the money than in the poor and that his mention of the poor was merely a subterfuge. But the Great Teacher rebuked his disciples, saying, "Why trouble ye the woman; for she hath wrought a good work upon me; in that she hath poured this ointment upon my body she did it to prepare me for burial. Truly I say unto you, Wheresoever this Gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this which this woman hath done be told for a memorial of her." (Matt. 26:10-13.) How considerate was the Great Teacher! How sympathetic! How appreciative of everything done for him!
The Lord, in line with all the Scripture teachings and usages, declines to recognize woman as a teacher of religion in the Church amongst his followers. No woman was given a place amongst the twelve Apostles—nor even when the seventy evangelists were sent forth with the simple message, which any woman could have given, surely as glibly as any man, or more so; even on this mission he did not send women, nor even a representative of the sex. The man, in Scriptural usage, is the figure of the Lord; the woman, the figure of the Church. It would be out of harmony with the figure that the Church should be the instructor and the Lord the pupil. Consistently, therefore, it would have been improper for woman to have been commissioned to represent the Lord. Hence, women as teachers in the Church have no authority in the Bible for the position. We read that the serpent beguiled Mother Eve and made of her a teacher of error to her husband. We read that the evil spirits used a certain young woman as a medium to announce the Apostles. But we find no Divine sanction of woman as a teacher in the Church, but that the young woman who acted under the spirit of divination and attempted to preach Christ and the Apostles was rebuked by the Apostle Paul and the spirit of divination dispossessed.
All this, however, does not indicate that either Jesus or the Apostles were either rude toward women or unappreciative of their qualities of heart and mind. Quite the contrary. Amongst the Lord's followers were many "honorable women" and his special love for this Mary and her sister Martha is particularly recorded. Let us learn the lesson from the Book and not attempt to teach the Book.
Our Lord, in reply to the argument of Judas, that the ointment should have been sold for a large sum for the benefit of the poor, answered, The poor ye have always with you. Whensoever ye will ye may do them good; but me ye have not always. Poverty is sure to be a factor in the social order during the present time, because, in our fallen condition as a race, some are more brilliant of mind than others and selfishness is the general rule. Hence, until the end of the reign of sin and death the poor will be here. And there is a blessing attached to every good deed, every noble endeavor to help any member of the race to higher and better conditions, mentally, morally, physically. By and by there will be no poor, for, under the Kingdom condition, love will be the ruling principle, instead of selfishness. Under the Messianic rule righteousness will soon become universal; God's will is eventually to be done on earth as it is done in heaven.
This was true of the Master. A little while and he was gone from them, ascended to the Father's right hand. The same principle prevails in respect to the Lord's followers styled, "The members of his Body." Whatever we can do for these members, the great Head will consider as though done unto himself. While, therefore, it will always be in order to do good unto all men as we have opportunity, it will always be in order also to do good "especially unto the household of faith." These should always be first in our thoughts.
The spirit of selfishness in Judas led on from one degree to another of covetousness until he was willing to sell his Master to his enemies. Alas, what a terrible power for evil is selfishness! How many are willing to barter the Truth for the sake of worldly ease or prosperity! Such as have the spirit of the Truth to a considerable extent should beware of where selfishness leads if followed—to the Second Death.