The next place we find the phrase “good works” is in Matthew 26:10. The event is the woman who breaks the alabaster box open and anoints Jesus with it. This act is called a “good work” by Jesus. Here we learn more Biblical truths concerning good works.
Notice firstly, this “good work” is not seen as a good work by the disciples. They see it as a waste or as an extravagant measure. This perfume was valued at a year’s wages and could have done much good but she has wasted it on Jesus. What is deemed to be a “good work” in our eyes may not be a “good work” and what is not deemed as a good work may actually be one. The lesson here is that the action itself does not make the work “good.” It is easy for us to be deceived about the validity or non-validity of “good works.” That makes it very difficult to base our assurance on “good works.”
Next, Jesus receives that as a “good work” because of her motive. Jesus says she did this work upon or toward Him. The motive of this work was for the honor and glory of Jesus Christ. There was no thought of cost only thought of Him. It was not done to get something in return but done out of love for Him. This love is the fruit of the Spirit and this “good work” flows from that fruit. That is why Jesus so readily receives it. It was done out of love for Christ. He was her only motivation.
Thirdly, there was a purpose here that was not her intention. She simply wanted to honor Christ because the Spirit of God that indwelt her was producing love for Him in her. But God who was working in all of this, intended this to be a anointing for His death. She meant it to be a purely physically honoring act. But God had another intention. He was magnifying the mission of His Son. He had come to die for his people and to save them from their sins. God works in us and through us to do His good pleasure.
Finally, this woman is rewarded. Her work is judged to be good by Christ and she is rewarded for it. Although God was doing the work in her, she will receive reward because she was used of God. She will forever be remembered for her work whenever the Gospel is preached. Why the gospel? Because that is what this event pictures. It is about who Christ is, what Christ is going to do on the cross, and what the Spirit produces in believers. The good news is that “good works” are about the work of the Triune God on our behalf.