In the first portion of Mark 14, the Passover is about to begin. We are nearing the time of Jesus crucifixion and the events that preceded it.
3 While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head.
4 Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, “Why this waste of perfume? 5 It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages[a] and the money given to the poor.” And they rebuked her harshly.
6 “Leave her alone,” said Jesus. “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 7 The poor you will always have with you,[b] and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. 8 She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. 9 Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”
Mary’s offering of the expensive oil was a great act of honor and love for Jesus. At this time, it was customary to anoint a guest’s head with oil, but Mary went much further. Perhaps she realized that Jesus had just ridden into Jerusalem as a King – and shouldn’t kings be anointed? She may have understood this, but the disciples didn’t. Another thing to note is that Mary did this without a word. She didn’t announce what she was going to do, and she didn’t describe it as she did it. She didn’t explain her thoughts or reasoning, she simply acted. Afterward, she didn’t ask for the disciples’ opinion (although they did give it). She was only concerned with Jesus- no one else.
Influential theologian, Charles Spurgeon writes, “If we could all do more and talk less it might be a blessing to ourselves at least, perhaps to others. Let us labor in our service for the Lord to be more and more hidden; as much as the proud desire to catch the eye of man, let us endeavor to avoid it.”
This is difficult. It’s hard for me to act without asking for opinions as I process my plans. And it’s challenging to give away something so valuable without having others encourage your sacrifice. Imagine giving Mary’s gift- a highly priced family heirloom, then receiving “sharp criticism” from others. That type of reaction can and has caused people to shy away from offering their best gifts to the Lord. But we should simply remember that Jesus has the only opinion that matters. He valued Mary’s gift and he’ll value yours when it’s given in sincere love and devotion to Him. Consider what you might offer to Jesus this Easter. He gave His life for us, now what can we give?
Sam Brown is a founding plant team member at The Table. For the past 5 years she has served on our Leadership Team and oversees all communications aspects as a member on our staff.