“And Jesus said, Let her alone; why trouble ye her? She hath wrought a good work on me” (Mark 14:6).
In Mark 14, Jesus is on His way to Calvary. As He is in Bethany, in the home of Simon the leper, a woman expresses the depths of her love for our Lord by a costly sacrifice. We know from John 12 that the woman’s name is Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus. She broke an alabaster box of costly ointment and anointed the head of Jesus, then took down her hair and used it to wipe His feet. She wasn’t concerned about what others said or thought — she loved Jesus!
The Bible tells us that the ointment was worth more than 300 days’ wages for a common laboring man. In our day, we’re talking about a flask or vial of perfume that was about the size of a half-liter of water and would cost about $50,000. Scholars speculate this bottle of perfume might have been part of Mary’s inheritance or something she was saving as part of her dowry in case she got married. In any case, it was certainly the most expensive and valuable thing she owned, but she poured it out on Jesus.
There are ways she could have held back. She didn’t have to break the alabaster container which was very valuable in itself. She could have poured out only a few drops of the perfume instead of emptying its contents. But she didn’t. She gave everything she had – an extravagant gift – because of her love for Jesus. Her gift of love was misunderstood by others, but it was commended by Jesus.
William Barclay says in his commentary on this passage, “Love does not calculate the less or the more. It is not concerned to see how little it can decently give. If it gave all it had, if indeed it gave all the world, the gift would still be too little.”
There was a certain recklessness to Mary’s act of love which refused to count the cost. While others like Judas the betrayer considered it a waste, Jesus appreciated and treasured the demonstration of love on the part of Mary. He called her gift “a good work.” The word Jesus used for “good” was not the typical Greek word for good which means “useful or beneficial,” but a word that means “beautiful or lovely.” Mary’s gift was precious to her, perplexing to others, but pleasing to Jesus.
May we all be more like Mary… less logical and more generous; less analytical and more compassionate; less self-centered and more Christ-centered; less concerned with what someone else might think or say and more eager to honor the One Who first loved us.
Mary’s epitaph is, “She loved Jesus.” What will yours be?