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She Did What She Could

Video Version Below.

Have other people even made you feel like your best was not good enough?  Mary knew how that felt.

She has done what she could; she has anointed My body beforehand for the burial.  Mark 14:8, NASB

In this story, Jesus is in Bethany about a week before His crucifixion.  Naturally, since He is in town, His friends want to get together for dinner.  A man called Simon the Leper is the host.  He had probably been healed by Jesus at some time in the past and just retained the nickname since no one with leprosy would be hosting a party.  Lazarus, whom Jesus had raised from the dead, was also there.  Of course, Martha was serving.

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Mary, on the other hand, wasn’t interested in the party.  She was focused on Jesus.  He was her world.  She hung on every word He spoke.  Martha was serving food to everyone, but Mary wanted to do something special for Jesus, which would express her gratitude and love for the One Who had forgiven her and redeemed her.  Perhaps she was inspired by the actions of a woman who had anointed Jesus earlier in His ministry.  Whatever her inspiration, she knew she wanted to give her best.01CatherathalsNC

Mary knew Jesus wasn’t just a family friend, an important man or an inspired teacher.  She knew He was the Messiah.  She knew He deserved her best.  So she took her most prized possession, a jar of very expensive perfume, and broke it.  She then anointed the head and feet of Jesus.  Then, kneeling like a slave, she wiped His feet with her hair.

Mary with a bottle of perfume

The disciples, led by Judas, pitilessly criticized Mary for wasting this perfume.  Their words didn’t matter to Mary.  What did Jesus think?  What would He say?  Would He agree with His disciples, or would He see the love in her heart?  Jesus was angry.  He did speak harshly…but to the disciples.  He defended Mary and her actions.  

There are a couple of points that I want to bring out about this story.

First, Jesus is worthy of our best.  Sometimes churches and Christian organizations are criticized for spending money to build beautiful buildings.  It is a waste, people proclaim…just like the disciples did.  Doesn’t Jesus deserve our best?  Doesn’t Jesus, the Creator of the Universe, deserve and appreciate beautiful things?  Haven’t great cathedrals born witness to the glory of God for centuries?  I know there is a balance in all things, and if things are done for the glory of man instead of the glory of God, then they are wasteful and wrong.  But let us not be too quick to judge, lest, like the disciples, we come under the criticism of Jesus and, by implication, we say He is not worthy of the best we can do and produce.

Second, this act of love was spontaneous.  This was not something that was commanded in the law.  This was not something that Jesus had asked her to do.  This was love being poured out of a willing heart.  This was Mary taking the initiative to please Jesus.  She did not know the prophetic aspects of what she was doing.  She just wanted to make Jesus happy.  

What about us?  What is our motivation for serving Jesus?  Do we do things grudgingly or happily?  Is it an honour to serve or a duty?  Do we go beyond in our love and try to do things to please Jesus that He hasn’t even asked us to do?  Do we put our creative abilities to work, thinking of ways to bring joy to the heart of our Divine Lover?

Mary loved her Saviour

Third, Mary did what she could, as Jesus acknowledged.  Sometimes we get worried that we are not as gifted or skilled as someone else.  We may not have the financial resources to do what others can do.  That is not what delights the heart of Jesus.  Mary did what she could; she gave her best out of willing love. That was the greatest gift.  Remember how Jesus praised the widow for offering her two small coins?  Jesus does not judge things the way the world does.  If we are giving Him our best out of love, there is no greater gift.  There is no greater delight to Him.  

Fourth, Mary didn’t care what the others thought.  The disciples harassed her, judged her, misunderstood her and tried to embarrass her.  It didn’t matter.  The only important thing was what Jesus thought.  As we launch out to please our Lord, others may criticize, misunderstand our motives and even oppose us.  Many famous Christians were opposed by those inside the church community.  The only thing that matters is how Jesus sees it.  Let us walk with confidence as we pursue and love Jesus with all of our hearts.  He will never reject us.

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