Did Jesus make him do it?

This story from the bible makes Jesus look self-indulgent and Judas a champion of the poor. Consequently, Judas can claim that he turned Jesus over to the chief priests because Jesus was betraying the poor.

Below are two versions of the incident known as Jesus’ anointment at Bethany, from the Apostles Mark and John:

    Mark 14:

    3 And being in Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at meat, there came a woman having an alabaster box of ointment of spikenard very precious; and she brake the box, and poured it on his head.

    4 And there were some that had indignation within themselves, and said, Why was this waste of the ointment made? 5 For it might have been sold for more than three hundred pence, and have been given to the poor. And they murmured against her.

    6 And Jesus said, Let her alone; why trouble ye her? she hath wrought a good work on me. 7 For ye have the poor with you always, and whensoever ye will ye may do them good: but me ye have not always.

    10 And Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve, went unto the chief priests, to betray him unto them.

    John 12:

    1 Then Jesus six days before the passover came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, which had been dead, whom he raised from the dead. 2 There they made him a supper; and Martha served: but Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with him. 3 Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment.

    4 Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, which should betray him, 5 Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor?

    6This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein. (Is John bad-mouthing Judas?)

    7 Then said Jesus, Let her alone: against the day of my burying hath she kept this. 8 For the poor always ye have with you; but me ye have not always.

‘Yun lang.

Manuel Buencamino

Buencamino was a weekly columnist for Today and Business Mirror. He has also written articles in other publications like Malaya, Newsbreak, “Yellow Pad” in Business World, and “Talk of the Town” in the Inquirer. He is currently with Interaksyon, the news site of TV5. MB blogged for Filipino Voices, blogs for ProPinoy and maintains a blog, Uniffors.com. Game-changers for him, as far as music goes, are Monk, Miles, Jimi, and Santana.


  • GabbyD

    this post reminds me of how easy it is to make jesus look stupid, if you insist on judging him modern-era philosophy, economics and morality without looking at the context of his mileu and mission. 

    1) remember the stoning of the cheating wife? its easy to say: man, jesus doesnt believe in punishing wrong doing? why didnt he say something about how bad it is to cheat? or, on the progressive side, why didnt he attack the cruelty of the punishment?

    2) remember the parable about paying workers the same wage, no matter how much they worked? –> jesus is a COMMUNIST!

    etc…, etc… there is a cottage industry of people like you, filipinofreethinkers, etc, who do exactly that, and make (what appears to be) hard-hitting criticisms on theology and xtianity. 

    this also explains how you make make jesus say anything you want! — depends on your personal philosophy and advocacy.

    • Manuelbuencamino

      Gabby,

      Calm down. I made an observation about a bible story that I read.That’s all. 

       I don’t attack religions as I believe they are all valid in their own way to their believers so don’t accuse me of engaging in some anti-christian cottage industry. I am also not familiar with the story about the stoning of the cheating wife or the wage policy of Jesus. I am not familiar with the bible.

      You see when I was growing up there were no bibles in my house. My parents are catolico cerrados and when they were growing up, catholics were not allowed to read the bible on their own. The church did not like catholics reading the bible without guidance from priests. Ask your parents/grandparents or do some research to verify what I’m telling you.

      The background of my post is this: I was wondering what happened from Monday to Wednesday of Holy Week. So I googled it and I saw references to John and Mark. I read their gospels, the ones that would tell me about Holy Monday to Holy Wednesday. I didn’t find any specific accounts of Jesus’ activities during those days but in the course of my readings I came across the anointment at Bethany and I wondered if that incident would explain why Judas turned on Jesus. So I posted my observation to see if anyone would react.

      Finally I am not making Jesus say anything I want. Take note that I quoted directly from the King James version of the gospel of Mark and John. Those Jesus quotes came from the Mark and John not from me!

      • GabbyD

        ok. to be fair, this is the first “jesus seems like such as ______” article i read from you. so, i don’t want to include you in that atheist cottage industry. i apologize.

        what i’m advocating is simple, common-sensical, and i think fair to people who are long-dead but whose influence and thinking is vast and deep.

        i also think its possible to have honest, real disagreements with jesus, EVEN FACTORING IN context and his mission. but we cant get to that good stuff if we are bogged down in the basics. 

  • GabbyD

    also ”
    Did Jesus make him do it?”

    why this title? make him (who?) do what?

    • GabbyD

      ah, jesus made judas betray him? the gospels are silent on that actually. no one knows why he did what he did. but it is clear that what ever the reason is, he was so heartbroken when jesus died that he committed suicide… 

  • Interesting. Self indulgent. I was taught in Sunday School  . . . ahem  . . . a couple of years ago that the passage means Christ respected the gift bestowed upon him because it represented kindness and respect, and he did not want to reject it. I suppose that is the beauty of the Bible or Koran. There are multiple ways to read many passages, so they can be kneaded to defend one’s preconceived dogma.

    • GabbyD

      joe,

      that is fundamentally right. the only way to come up with a DIFFERENT INTERPRETATION, is if, like the disciples, you SEEK TO IMPOSE your own desires on jesus.

      the FIRST thing u do when u interpret words of long dead people(or even anonymous people on the net!) is: why did they say that? give them respect to know that they KNOW what they are doing, and that they are consistent in their views.

      the thing i noticed on the internet is that most folks dont do this basic stuff, which i expected is something we all owe to each other.

    • Manuelbuencamino

      Joe,

      Exactly.

  • UPnnGrd

    Is this going back to  a few miscreants yakking yakking about PresiNoynoy moments of enjoyment with a Porsche?

    • GabbyD

      i cant believe this, but finally UP makes sense :). IF you want jesus to give his money to charity, you should also believe that we, including pnoy, should give back anything beyond some min money to survive. 

      mb, you cannot be serious.

    • Manuelbuencamino

      UP,

      You saw a connection? 

  • GabbyD

    i don’t get it. why is that anti-poor? coz he didnt give the money (from the oil) to the poor? cmon, that doesnt make sense. if that is true, we are all anti poor. also, i never thought you were the one to advocate radical redistribution. 

    • Manuelbuencamino

      Gabby,

      Where did you get the idea that I was advocating redistribution? The amount involved was 300 pence not the entire fortune of anybody. The story said the Apostles were not happy with the extravagance of Mary and said the money could have been better spent on the poor. Judas went a step farther. I didn’t write that gospel!

      It’s the ratiocination of Jesus that intrigued me – the poor will always be around and you can help them anytime you want naman but I won’t always be around so allow me a little self-indulgence. It puts an entire new context to Jesus telling his Apostles to give up their worldly possessions and follow him. Reminded me of preachers – Falwell, Robertson, Pajero bishops etc. – who encourage their flock to give everything to their church while they live in luxury.

      • GabbyD

        1) where did i get the idea? you wrote it yourself! “The story said the Apostles were not happy with the extravagance of Mary and said the money could have been better spent on the poor.”
        redistribution happens when someone (not a party to the transaction) seeks to impose his own preferences on other people. the govt can say, for example, this distribution of land ownership is wrong, or the way you are using the land is wrong, don’t own expensive race cars, etc…

        let me (initially) ignore the context of the passage (context for #2).

        jesus’s claim here is: let her do with her money what she wants! i (jesus) will not compel her to sell the ointment, and give it to the poor. in this sense, jesus is quite the libertarian. let her decide what she wants. this leads to #2:

        2. the context of the passage is “what SHOULD WE want”?

        jesus is silent on the specifics here (he could have said: “world peace”, governance reform, kill all the romans, etc).

        A )BUT, its clear — before u can answer “what”, you should know the “how’. the answer is clear — prioritize!

        whatever you want, do the URGENT, or time sensitive things FIRST. as you may know, jesus is ABOUT TO DIE, and he knows it. people around him know it. 

        so PRIORITIZE. show your love for the person u love while he/she/it is still around.

        b) its vague, but its an important reminder — prioritize that ones you love: God and (then) man. the woman loves jesus, and wants to show it. 

        jesus’ point is: let her! her thought process is correct here. do what your love of god tells you to do. and she should be free to express her love for god (jesus). 

        now, it should not surprise anyone that the bible would espouse/prioritize loving god. 

        PS: also, the analogy with preachers is false. making god a priority is one thing. but no preacher says : i am jesus — make ME a priority. 

        • UPnnGrd

          But some would say  ” this mabait who-is-child-of-a-former-Persssii-Dente.   He is only here hanggang 2016,  show naman The Love!! Hindi ba ang bait talaga kaya give him na what he wants,   at talaga namang guilty iyong kaniyang mga ka-away, eh.  Kung walang legal technicalities, maski si Manny Pacquiao can prove they are guilty, hindi ba?  Kaya off with their heads,  kalimutan na legal technicalities.   Chop-chop bilis-bilisan, off with the head of his enemies!!   Show naman The Love!!!  Hanggang 2016 lang ang panahon ni our Mabait-child-of-a-former-PerrsssiDente!”

          At ikaw, Tiglao, makuha ka sa tingin, hah?! Tandaan mo, nasa puwesto pa rin at may mga sundalo din naman itong our Mabait…. makuha ka sa tingin!

          • Manuelbuencamino

            UP,

            Go away. You are off topic. Take some tranqs because you are becoming very pranning. Give yourself a rest. And us too!

          • GabbyD

            and…. ur back off topic again! sigh… i shouldve expected itwas a fluke 🙂

        • Manuelbuencamino

          Gabby,

          First, let’s get the chronology straight. You posted two reactions to my post and I replied, “Where did you get the idea that I was advocating redistribution?”. And your response to my question was, “where did i get the idea? you wrote it yourself!” But you quoted from my response to your two reactions. 

          Now please explain how you were able to know what my response would be to your comments even before I responded? ESP? The holy ghost?

          Now to your arguments.

          (1) Redistribution does not happen until it happens so those apostles seeking to impose their preference on Jesus were only seeking. Now there’s nothing wrong with seeking to impose one’s preference on anybody else. It’s normal behavior, it’s normal to want things your way. The problem arises only when you use force to impose your preferences on others and by force I mean illegitimate force. At any rate, read the first two sentences of my post. I wrote the story “makes Jesus look…:” and “Consequently, Judas can claim…” Now those are observations not advocacy. Now as to what you quoted from my response. Again I was summarizing not advocating!

          Now as to Jesus telling his disciples to let her do what she wants with her money. Nothing wrong with that. Except that Jesus was all about prioritizing the poor, right? That’s why I think the apostles were dismayed by the “waste” specially when there were people in need.

          And that leads us to your second point. PRIORITIZE.

          I think the apostles felt that Jesus got his priorities wrong. 

          “Why was this waste of the ointment made? For it might have been sold for more than three hundred pence, and have been given to the poor. ”

          Now, so what if Jesus and the people around him knew he was about to die? They were followers of Jesus so maybe  they thought  Jesus, who knew he was about to die, should have been spending his last moments thinking and doing charity for his beloved poor instead of getting bathed in extravagant oil. 

          And they murmured against Mary because, I assume, they thought a follower of Jesus should show her love for him by doing charity work for his beloved poor instead of bathing him in expensive oil and then washing it off with her hair!  

          PS. The analogy. 

          You are right, preachers say “do it for Jesus” because who is going to give them money if they say do it for me? And who is going to believe them if they say they are Jesus? But of course they say that God speaks through them, right? 

          And so going back to Jesus, his apostles must have been dismayed because their teacher allowed himself some self-indulgence instead of selflessness in the last days of his life. “And Jesus said, Let her alone; why trouble ye her? she hath wrought a good work on me.” In modern words, Jesus told his apostles, “Leave her alone; why are you bitching on her? she made me feel good.” 

          • Manuelbuencamino

            Gabby,

            By the way, sorry for the late reply. I was out playing golf with my friends and then drinks afterwards so I didn’t get to your comment until almost 9PM.

          • Beats flagellation I suppose.

          • Manuelbuencamino

            Joe,

            There are days when a round of golf makes flagellation seem like a weekend in a spa.

      • GabbyD

        1) timeline — why does this matter? you have been consistent — you agree with the disciples and disagree w jesus’s actions. after all, if u call jesus “selfindulgent”, i CANNOT SEE how u can then agree w him.

        2) lets me simplify the passage:
        the disciples advocated redistribution (which u supported). 

        jesus said : let her decide what to do.

        3) yes. the disciples advocated redistribution, and questioned jesus. if u read the gospels, they do that constantly!

        i wont attempt to explain the details, but IF you are interested, there are books.

        but fundamentally, at the risk of some oversimplification: Jesus had a mission. the mission was about redemption. 

        he didnt prioritize earthly matters. he was focused on his mission — so much so that in EVERY INTERACTION in the bible, he keeps reminding people about 1) who he is, 2) he is about to die, 3)and what #2 means.

        its almost comical. once at a well, jesus struck up a conversation with a samaritan woman. she offered him water coz he thought he was thirsty. he turned it into an analogy of him being the water of life. imagine being with someone who has laser like intensity of purpose that he cant even do small talk — jesus is like a sketch character… 

        anyway, that aside, its clear that, while he loves the poor, and jesus did ask that the disciples love others like themselves, etc… its is IMPORTANT that loving others IS NOT the first priority.

        its LOVE GOD.

        so, this explains why jesus defended mary. he saw her, realized its an act of loving him (god), and said :”let her be”.

        now, if YOU (mb) arent a christian, i dont expect you to agree that loving god is a priority.

        BUT, give jesus the benefit of acknowledging that this is part of his advocacy/mission. (in the same way, we would acknowledge that the teachings of mohammed is crucial in islam, even if you dont agree with it…. etc).

        but this is what the disciples had to learn. they would disagree w jesus coz they didnt understand the mission/redemption, until after he died. 

        note: jesus never  forced anyone to follow him. the disciples decided to do so on their own. they left everything behind.

        you may ask; what about their families? is it really a good idea to follow a fisherman you hardly know?… we could doubt the disciples decision to follow jesus, in the same way that they doubted mary’s decision to offer him oils. 

        but following jesus is something they did VOLUNTARILY, out of LOVE. 

        jesus wants mary to do the same.

        PS: i think we can agree that preachers who make religion about themselves doesnt understand jesus’ mission. 

        but the role of the church/church leadership is fairly complex, which i cannot do justice here. suffice it to say that since jesus was SILENT on many important specifics, we (as mortal men) must come up with some specific answers. 

        • UPnnGrd

          Jesus, the apostles believed was to be another King of the Jews. So following the future king made sense — the rewards are quite enticing. Just think the thought of being a governor of this province or that territory — due reward to them who were loyal as The-Dude-with-a-Golden-Tongue is transmogrified from rabble-rouser into a King Of The Jews.

          But one of the Inner-Circle-BFF’s cashed in early, and then when push came to shove, the choice became Barabbas . . .   tough!!!

        • Manuelbuencamino

          Gabby,

          Timelines matter. Past, present, future. We have to know what’s what. Like your comment on timelines above, for example. It should follow my comment in chronology otherwise how will anybody know that you have ESP?

          But moving on to what I said earlier, I was making observations based on what those two disciples wrote. One has to have that entire explanation of yours inside his head to see the oiling incident as something more than just another guy engaging in a little self-indulgence before he died, right? 

          The apostles were not advocating redistribution. They were reminding Jesus about his priorities. 

          I am not the guy you want to throw redistribution at because my lifestyle requires honest accumulation not redistribution of capital. 

          “now, if YOU (mb) arent a christian, i dont expect you to agree that loving god is a priority.” I take offense at that remark. Christianity is not the only way to God. Your remark reminds me of something a Jewish friend once asked me, “Which part of the Old Testament did you christians not understand?”

          • GabbyD

            by god here, obviously, i mean jesus christ. (because we are talking about xtians). 

            indeed, at that point, the disciples were questioning jesus’ priorities. they (again obviously) changed their minds.

            as a non-xtian, u can decide that jesus is wrong. BUT, you have to make an effort to know what he (jesus) meant, BEFORE u do so.

            u hit the nail on the head here: ” One has to have that entire explanation of yours inside his head to see the oiling incident as something more than just another guy engaging in a little self-indulgence before he died, right? ”

            PRECISELY! before you interpret, think about the context of the exchange to explain the same set of fact. the interpretation might change if u do.

            di ba obvious yun? if u dont do that, then u make SNAP JUDGEMENTS, which tend to be wrong. 

          • Manuelbuencamino

            Gabby,

            Sorry. What I meant was you have to be a believer to buy into your interpretation because your interpretation sounds like excuses to a non-believer. But I’m not dismissing Jesus. I think he had a lot of good teachings, specially the sermon on the mount.

          • GabbyD

            i didnt say you had to have faith — only that you understand what jesus meant. 

            you dont have to believe that jesus is god to know what jesus meant when he wanted to let mary do what she wants. 

            its the same as studying ANY historical figure ( as NIK might argue). you dont have to believe that what they are saying is true :

            ie. aryan is a pure race — hitler, 
            aliens are in our midst — scientology
            jesus christ is god…
            … just to name some of the more outlandish claims

            but you can UNDERSTAND what they are saying… 

            …and thats all that is needed to understand the passage you quoted.

            so please, in the future, how about some basic textual research, huh? 

            then, once you get that right, THEN you can criticize it. 

          • Manuelbuencamino

            Gabby,

            Let me see if I got the story right. It was a few days before Jesus would be crucified. Jesus and his posse were having dinner at the Lazarus’ crib whome he raised from the dead.  Mary gave him an expensive oiling. The posse was dismayed. Judas specially. They started to buzz on Mary because they thought she  could have put the money she used to buy the spikenard to better use, like giving it to the poor. Jesus stood up for Mary and said, let her be she’s showing her love for me. Besides you will always have the poor around and you can help them whenever you want but you won’t have me around forever because I am going to die soon.

            Did I get the story right? 

          • GabbyD

            well, i actually wrote alot in my first comment about the context. 

            di ba?

          • Manuelbuencamino

            Gabby,

            Now as toy your examples: ie. aryan is a pure race — hitler, 
            aliens are in our midst — scientologyjesus christ is god…… just to name some of the more outlandish claims
            but you can UNDERSTAND what they are saying… …and thats all that is needed to understand the passage you quoted.

            Yup I can understand what they are saying without believing them. I think Hitler et al are nuts. But there are those who believe them, who agree with their assumptions and conclusions after doing textual research.