|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
12:1-11 Christ had formerly blamed Martha for being troubled with much serving. But she did not leave off serving, as some, who when found fault with for going too far in one way, peevishly run too far another way; she still served, but within hearing of Christ's gracious words. Mary gave a token of love to Christ, who had given real tokens of his love to her and her family. God's Anointed should be our Anointed. Has God poured on him the oil of gladness above his fellows, let us pour on him the ointment of our best affections. In Judas a foul sin is gilded over with a plausible pretence. We must not think that those do no acceptable service, who do it not in our way. The reigning love of money is heart-theft. The grace of Christ puts kind comments on pious words and actions, makes the best of what is amiss, and the most of what is good. Opportunities are to be improved; and those first and most vigorously, which are likely to be the shortest. To consult to hinder the further effect of the miracle, by putting Lazarus to death, is such wickedness, malice, and folly, as cannot be explained, except by the desperate enmity of the human heart against God. They resolved that the man should die whom the Lord had raised to life. The success of the gospel often makes wicked men so angry, that they speak and act as if they hoped to obtain a victory over the Almighty himself.
Verse 8. - This verse is omitted in D, but abundantly attested here. It occurs almost verbatim in Matthew and Mark, and cannot be set aside on the authority of this one eccentric manuscript. For the poor ye have always with you (cf. Deuteronomy 15:11). You will always have opportunity of doing to them, as to representatives of me, what is in your heart of compassion (cf. Matthew 25:40-45). But me, as an object of personal, tangible regard and visible attention, deserving thus and ever the affluence and exuberance of your love, ye have not always; and, though I shall be with you always in my Divine power and Spirit, even unto the end of the world, and though I shall always be with you in the person of the poor and needy, yet in the sense in which this expression of love Can be made, I shall be absent. As though he had said, "After this very night, the opportunity to offer me affectionate attention or symbolic homage, to give expression to feelings in accordance with just presentiments as to my mission, will be over forever, and belong to the irrecoverable past - Now or never! She has done this thing, she will have everlasting remembrance thereby." The frankincense of the Wise Men, the ointment of Mary, the homage of the Greeks, were symbols, and can never be repeated. The greatest motive for generous and affectionate interest in the poor is that they represent the Lord; but they are not to be rivals of the Lord himself. Westcott remarks, "The promise of the future record of the act of love is omitted by the one evangelist who gives the name of the woman who showed this devotion to her Master." Moulton, "The very charity that cares for the poor whom we see has been kept alive by faith in and devotion to the crucified Redeemer whom we cannot see."
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
For the poor always ye have with you,.... And so would not want opportunities of showing a regard to them, which Christ always recommended; nor does he here in the least discourage an industrious and affectionate concern for them: the words seem to be a sort of prophecy, that there would be always poor persons in the churches of Christ, to be taken care of and provided for; See Gill on Matthew 26:11; and yet the Jews suppose cases, in which the collectors of alms may have no poor to distribute to, and direct what they shall do in such cases (l):
but me ye have not always; meaning, with respect to his corporeal presence, which would be quickly withdrawn from them, when there would be no more an opportunity of showing him personal respect, in such a way.
(l) T. Bab. Pesachim, fol. 13. 1. & Bava Metzia, fol. 38. 1. & Bava Bathra, fol. 8. 2.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
8. the poor always … with you—referring to De 15:11.
but me … not always—a gentle hint of His approaching departure. He adds (Mr 14:8), "She hath done what she could," a noble testimony, embodying a principle of immense importance. "Verily, I say unto you, Wheresoever this Gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her" (Mt 26:13; Mr 14:9). "In the act of love done to Him she had erected to herself an eternal monument, as lasting as the Gospel, the eternal word of God. From generation to generation this remarkable prophecy of the Lord has been fulfilled; and even we, in explaining this saying of the Redeemer, of necessity contribute to its accomplishment" [Olshausen]. "Who but Himself had the power to ensure to any work of man, even if resounding in his own time through the whole earth, an imperishable remembrance in the stream of history? Behold once more here, the majesty of His royal judicial supremacy in the government of the world, in this, Verily I say unto you" [Stier]. Beautiful are the lessons here: (1) Love to Christ transfigures the humblest services. All, indeed, who have themselves a heart value its least outgoings beyond the most costly mechanical performances; but how does it endear the Saviour to us to find Him endorsing the principle as His own standard in judging of character and deeds!
What though in poor and humble guise
Thou here didst sojourn, cottage-born,
Yet from Thy glory in the skies
Our earthly gold Thou didst not scorn.
For Love delights to bring her best,
And where Love is, that offering evermore is blest.
Love on the Saviour's dying head
Her spikenard drops unblam'd may pour,
May mount His cross, and wrap Him dead
In spices from the golden shore.
(2) Works of utility should never be set in opposition to the promptings of self-sacrificing love, and the sincerity of those who do so is to be suspected. Under the mask of concern for the poor at home, how many excuse themselves from all care of the perishing heathen abroad. (3) Amidst conflicting duties, that which our "hand (presently) findeth to do" is to be preferred, and even a less duty only to be done now to a greater that can be done at any time. (4) "If there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not" (2Co 8:12).—"She hath done what she could" (Mr 14:8). (5) As Jesus beheld in spirit the universal diffusion of His Gospel, while His lowest depth of humiliation was only approaching, so He regards the facts of His earthly history as constituting the substance of this Gospel, and the relation of them as just the "preaching of this Gospel." Not that preachers are to confine themselves to a bare narration of these facts, but that they are to make their whole preaching turn upon them as its grand center, and derive from them its proper vitality; all that goes before this in the Bible being but the preparation for them, and all that follows but the sequel.
John 12:8 Parallel Commentaries
John 12:8 NIV
John 12:8 NLT
John 12:8 ESV
John 12:8 NASB
John 12:8 KJV
Bible Hub: Online Parallel Bible