Leave her alone, said Jesus. Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me (Mark 14:6).
Our Lord takes this beautiful incident and shows us the true value of it. He says five things about it that mark it as an extremely valuable act. First, He says, She has done a beautiful thing to me. The beauty of it lay in its very extravagance. This woman did not spare any of the costly ointment but broke the flask and poured the whole quantity out upon Him. Judas, with his practical computer mind, reckoned it up as worth three hundred denarii. A denarius was the day's wage for a laborer. Three hundred days' wages would be a tremendous sum. In the eyes of Judas, this woman wasted an enormous amount of money when she poured out the ointment upon Jesus. It was such a lavish act, and therein lay the beauty of it.
Second, He said that it was a timely thing she had done. It was something that could only be done now. Any time you want to do good to the poor you can, because they are always around. And it is right to help the poor. But there are opportunities that come in our life that must be seized at the moment. Mary had sensed this and seized the moment to offer this gift, for such a time would never occur again. It was out of the sensitivity of her heart that she realized that the timing was right, and Jesus recognized this.
Then, she did that which was feasible. That is, she did what she could. She could not fix Him a meal; there was no time for that. She could not make a garment for Him; there was no time for that. There was nothing else she could do to show her love but this. She did what she could. I am sure our Lord has called our attention to that because it is so practical for us. Someone said, I'm only a man, but I am a man. I can't do everything, but I can do something. And what I can do I ought to do. And what I ought to do, I'm available to do.
The fourth element of this act was that it was insightful. Our Lord says, She has anointed my body beforehand for burying. Many times Jesus said to these disciples that He was going to die. Not one of them believed him--except Mary of Bethany. She understood that He was heading for burial. And since she could not be sure she would ever have the opportunity later to find His body and anoint it for burial, she did it now, as a loving act of service. What a comfort this must have been to our Lord! Of all these friends who were around Him at this time, only this one had the sensitivity of heart to understand what was happening.
Finally, what she did was deserving of being remembered. It was memorable. Jesus said,The story of this beautiful act will be told in memory of her wherever the gospel is preached in the whole world. Here we are today, two thousand years later, fulfilling this very word, telling again of the act of Mary of Bethany when she anointed our Lord's head and feet.
Father, help me to understand that Mary is but depicting a far greater sacrifice. May that act of love grip my heart and strengthen me all the days of my life.
Life Application: The Lord Jesus Christ has taught and exemplified extravagant, timely, self-giving love. What will it look like when we allow Him to love others through us?