“But when his disciples saw it, they had indignation, saying, To what purpose is this waste?”
This woman had just poured an alabaster box full of ointment on the head of Jesus. Matthew described the ointment as being very precious, or extremely valuable. The disciples were taken back by such an extravagant gesture of love and worship, and with indignation asked, “To what purpose is this waste?” They thought that a better use of the ointment would have been to sell it and give the proceeds to the poor. Their attitude and response earned them a stern rebuke from the Lord, showing us once again how we can see things much differently from how He sees them.
It would not be difficult to see how the unsaved world would see this act of worship as a “waste.” They commonly wonder how it is that followers of Jesus give their resources to God and His church. They are perplexed as to why busy people gather together several times a week for worship, Bible study, and prayer. Why would believers give their precious time to reading the Bible, praying, witnessing, and serving the Lord? To them it is such a “waste.” But then, they do not know Him, nor do they know what He has done for us.
The amazing thing about this story, however, is that it was the disciples who were amazed at this apparent “waste.” They did not understand, nor could they relate to, such an outpouring of devotion. How can one explain their reaction? It would seem that they would be rejoicing that Jesus was receiving the kind of praise and thanksgiving that He was due. Could it be that sometimes, as disciples, we lose sight of how deserving our Savior is of our supreme worship and adoration? Perhaps because of business or distraction, or even familiarity, we forget how incredibly worthy the Master is.
Another thing the disciples were guilty of was being out of touch with what was going on at that particular moment. Jesus would soon be laying down His life as a sacrifice for all sins, and though feeding the poor has its place, nothing should have competed with the priority and glory of this moment. This despised woman demonstrated more discernment and devotion than all the rest, expressing without reservation her appreciation and love. We can learn a valuable lesson from her. It is never a “waste” to give Him our very best.