Matthew 26:11
For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always.
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(11) Ye have the poor always with you.—Our Lord dealt with the objection of the murmurers on their own ground, as if it were genuine, and does not openly rebuke the dishonesty of the chief objector. But look and tone, and the solemn pathos of the words, “Me ye have not always,” must have made the Traitor feel that he was in the presence of One who read the secrets of his heart.

26:6-13 The pouring ointment upon the head of Christ was a token of the highest respect. Where there is true love in the heart to Jesus Christ, nothing will be thought too good to bestow upon him. The more Christ's servants and their services are cavilled at, the more he manifests his acceptance. This act of faith and love was so remarkable, that it would be reported, as a memorial of Mary's faith and love, to all future ages, and in all places where the gospel should be preached. This prophecy is fulfilled.For ye have the poor ... - Mark adds, "Whensoever ye will, ye may do them good." It was right that they should regard the poor.

It was a plain precept of religion (see Psalm 41:1; Proverbs 14:21; Proverbs 29:7; Galatians 2:10), and our Saviour would not prohibit it, but do all that was possible to excite his followers to the duty. But every duty should be done in its place, and the duty "then" incumbent was that which Mary had performed. They would afterward have abundant occasion to show their regard for the poor.

Me ye have not always - He alludes here to his dying, and his going away to heaven. He would still be their friend and their Saviour, but would not be physically always present with them, so that they could show kindness "in this way" to him.


Mt 26:1-16. Christ's Final Announcement of his Death, as Now within Two Days, and the Simultaneous Conspiracy of the Jewish Authorities to Compass It—The Anointing at Bethany—Judas Agrees with the Chief Priests to Betray His Lord. ( = Mr 14:1-11; Lu 22:1-6; Joh 12:1-11).

For the exposition, see on [1361]Mr 14:1-11.

See Poole on "Matthew 26:13".

For ye have the poor always with you,.... This is said in answer to the objection of the disciples, that the ointment might have been sold, and the money given to the poor. Christ seems to have respect to Deuteronomy 15:11, and which, agreeably to the sense of the Jews, refers to the times of the Messiah: for they say (h),

"there is no difference between this world (this present time) and the times of the Messiah, but the subduing of kingdoms only; as it is said, Deuteronomy 15:11, "for the poor shall never cease out of the land": the gloss on it is, from hence it may be concluded, that therefore, "for ever there will be poverty, and riches".''

Our Lord's words also show, that there will be always poor persons in the world; that there will be always such with his people, and in his churches; for God has chosen, and he calls such by his grace; so that men may always have opportunities of showing kindness and respect to such objects: in Mark it is added, "and whensoever ye will ye may do them good", Mark 14:7; by relieving their wants, and distributing to their necessities:

but me ye have not always; referring not to his divine and spiritual presence, which he has promised to his people, churches, and ministers, to the end of the world, but to his corporeal presence; for he was to be but a little while with them, and then go to the Father; be taken up to heaven, where he now is, and will be until the restitution of all things; so that the time was very short in which any outward respect could be shown to him in person, as man.

(h) T. Bab. Sabbat, fol. 63. 1.

{5} For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always.

(5) Christ, who was once anointed in his own person, must always be anointed in the poor.

Matthew 26:11 f. Justification of the καλόν on the ground of the peculiar circumstances under which the anointing took place. Jesus was on the very threshold of death; they would always have opportunities of showing kindness to the poor, but by and by it would be no longer in their power to do a loving service to Him in person upon earth! Accordingly there is a moral propriety in making the special manifestation of love, which was possible only now, take precedence of that general one which was always possible.

οὐ πάντοτε ἔχετε] a sorrowful litotes involving the idea: but I will soon be removed by death, to which idea the γάρ of Matthew 26:12 refers.

βαλοῦσα] inasmuch as she has poured … she has done it (this outpouring) with the view (as though I were already a corpse) of embalming me (Genesis 50:2). The aorist participle represents the act as finished contemporaneously with ἐποίησαν. Comp. Matthew 27:4; Ephesians 1:9, al.; Hermann, ad Viger. p. 774; Müller in the Luther. Zeitschr. 1872, p. 631 ff. For the rest, it may be said that, under the influence of grateful emotion, Jesus ascribes a special motive to the woman, though she herself simply meant to testify her love and reverence. Such feelings, intensified as they were by the thought of the approaching death of the beloved Master, and struggling to express themselves in this particular form, could not but receive the highest consecration.

Matthew 26:11 suggests a distinction between general ethical categories and duties arising out of special circumstances. ommon men recognise the former. It takes a genius or a passionate lover to see and swiftly do the latter. Mary saw and did the rare thing, and so achieved an ἔργον καλὸν.—ἐμὲ δὲ οὐ π., “a melancholy litotes” (Meyer).

Verse 11. - Ye have the poor always with you. St. Mark adds, "and whensoever ye will ye may do them good." This was in strict accordance with the old Law: "The poor shall never cease out of the land; therefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt open thine hand wide unto thy brother, to thy poor, and to thy needy in thy land" (Deuteronomy 15:11). The existence of poor gives scope for the exercise of the graces of charity, benevolence, and self-denial; and such opportunities will never be wanting while the world lasts. Me ye have not always; i.e. in bodily presence. When he speaks of being with his Church always to the end, he is speaking of his Divine presence. His human body, his body of humiliation, was removed from the sight and touch of men, and he could no longer be received and welcomed and succoured as heretofore. In a different and far more effectual mode he would visit his faithful servants by a spiritual presence which should never fail or be withdrawn. To the objectors he would say, "You will no longer have opportunity of honouring me in my human form; why, then, do you grudge the homage now paid me for the last time?" Matthew 26:11
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