"My heart I give Thee, Lord, eagerly and earnestly." - John Calvin
Sunday, October 11, 2009
Government Charity, the Spirit of Judas with the Power to Tax
"Six days before the Passover, Jesus therefore came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. So they gave a dinner for him there. Martha served, and Lazarus was one of those reclining with Him at the table. Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. But Judas Iscariot, one of the disciples (he who was about to betray Him), said, 'Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?' He said this, not because he cared about the poor, but because he was a thief, and having charge of the moneybag, he used to help himself to what was put into it. Jesus said, 'Leave her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of my burial. The poor you always have with you, but you do not always have Me.'"
- John 12:1-8
So, the situation is that Jesus is visiting the home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, soon after having raised Lazarus from the dead. While Martha is preparing the meal and Lazarus is sitting talking with Jesus, Mary anoints His feet with expensive perfume, made from nard or spikenard, then wiping them dry with her own hair.
But where I want to focus is on verse six, which describes the pretended indignation of Judas over the wastefulness of Mary's devotion, the supposed charity possible with the wasted wealth, and his own secret, but evil, intentions for the money. His hidden agenda was, of course, known both by the omniscience of Jesus Himself, and by the Holy Spirit, who inspired the knowledge in the writer, the Apostle John.
Where the passage took my mind was to our own modern bureaucratic system of government-forced charity. Not only is the effectiveness of such government expenditure questionable, so is the real motivation of the politicians that create the programs and the bureaucrats that administer them. The Wall Street Journal has reported that the overhead for government welfare averages about 70%, in contrast to roughly 5% for private charity. Ah, here we go! That leaves plenty of slush money for the pockets of a slew of Judases. In addition, such programs give politicians and bureaucrats the adulation of their allies and power over private lives. That seems like a lot of personal benefit arising from the confiscation and redistribution of other peoples' money.
Americans are very generous people, both to each other and to others around the world. No doubt this is a remnant of our Christian heritage. The impact of that generosity would be profoundly expanded by removing the government middle man from the process. The American Mary could be lavish with her wealth, if we could merely protect her from the government Judas.
My name is Chris Cole. I have lived in the Charlotte, NC, area for over thirty years, and have been an active Presbyterian during most of that time. I love the Westminster Confession of Faith as a beautiful expression of my own personal beliefs.
You can email me at email@example.com.
I prefer the English Standard Version of the Bible, and all quotations are from the ESV, unless otherwise stated.
I have a number of reviews of Reformed books on Amazon. There is a link to them in the Reformed links below.
"Seeing [that] the Lord of lords, the Lord Jesus, is so ready (never was there king so ready to hear a subject as Jesus is), [even] if thou wert the vilest body that goes, a thief, a harlot, etc., yet if thou wilt say this, 'Lord, remember on me, and give me a part of thy kingdom'; - if thou prayest to him from a penitent heart, with confidence and assurance, I promise unto thee, heaven and earth shall go [fall] together ere thou wantest [lack] thine asking. Seeing [that] our Lord Jesus is so liberal [free-giving], then seek more than enough, more than a kingdom, and thou shalt get more. The only cause why we want [lack] is in us: we have no hearts to seek it." - Rev. Robert Rollock, Scottish Presbyterian minister, about 1590, in a commentary on Luke 23:42-43