Matthew, Mark and John record one of the great expressions of love pictured in the word of God, the Bible. Shortly prior to the Passover (Exodus 12), sometimes called the feast of unleavened bread (Numbers 28:16-25; Matthew 26:17-19), Matthew 26:1-13, Mark 14:1-9, and John 12:1-8, record this beautiful event. Jesus is but a few days from being crucified. (Matthew 26:2; Mark 14:1). He came into Bethany, where Mary, Martha and Lazarus lived. (John 12:1, 2). He was “in the house of Simon the leper.” (Matthew 26:6; Mark 14:3). “There they made him a supper”, and as “he sat at meat” (Mark 14:3; John 12:2), “Martha served.” (John 12:2). A woman identified as Mary (Mark 14:3; John 12:3) came with an alabaster box (Mark 14:3; Matthew 26:7), containing a pound of precious and very costly ointment of spikenard (Matthew 26:7; John 12:3; Mark 14:3), which was said by Judas Iscariot and others to be worth three hundred pence (John 12:4, 5; Mark 14:4, 5), estimated by some to be around $ 500.00, in the twentieth-first century. Mary anointed the “body” of Jesus, including His “head” and “feet.” (Matthew 26:12, 7; John 12:3; Mark 14:3). Today, some might say that she anointed Him from head to toe. This beautiful deed caused some to have indignation and murmur against her, troubling her. (Mark 14:4-6). John 12:4-6 may imply that Judas Iscariot was the instigator and spokesman in this wrongful rebellion. Their objection was that this very costly ointment might have been sold for “much”, “more than three hundred pence, and have been given to the poor.” (Mark 14:5; Matthew 26:9). Judas Iscariot did not care for the poor; he was a thief. (John 12:5, 6). He would soon betray Jesus. (John 12:4). The others may have been honest and sincerely led astray by Judas.
What was Jesus’ response to all of this? First, Jesus attributed Mary’s actions to anointing His “body to the burying.” (John 12:7; Mark 14:8). This may imply that she knew about His impending crucifixion. Second, Jesus rebuked the objectors, saying, “Let her alone.” (Mark 14:6; John 12:7). The Lord then asked, “Why trouble ye her?” (Mark 14:6; Matthew 26:10). Third, Jesus commended Mary by saying, “She hath wrought a good work on me.” (Mark 14:6; Matthew 26:10). Fourth, Jesus said that Mary had saved the very precious and costly ointment to anoint His body prior to His sacrificial death on the cross, saying, “against the day of my burying hath she kept this.” (John 12:7). Fifth, Jesus reminded them that they would have the poor with them always, but that he would soon be crucified, buried, raised from the dead, and ascend back into heaven. (John 12:8; Mark 14:7; Matthew 26:11). Sixth, Mary’s deed would be preached as a memorial to her wherever and for however long faithful men proclaimed the good news. (Mark 14:9; Matthew 26:13).
Mary did what she could! Each reader needs to seriously ask the question, “Have I?” If not, why not? Beloved, we will one day be judged by what we have done or not done, “whether good or bad.” (2 Corinthians 5:10). Brethren used to pray for forgiveness of sins of “omission” and “commission.” Perhaps we need to get back to such petitions.
Let us not be like Eve and Adam (Genesis 3:6, 7, 13, 14), Cain (Genesis 4:8-10), Abraham and Isaac (Genesis 12:9-20; 26:6-10), and many other Biblical or non-Biblical people who did wrong.
Men, imitate characters like, Paul (1 Corinthians 11:1; 2 Timothy 4:6-8), Barnabas and Silas (Acts 13:1; 15:40), John Mark, Luke, and people like them. (Acts 13ff; 2 Timothy 4:11). Ladies, seek to imitate Sarah (Genesis 12ff; Hebrews 11:11), Eunice and Lois (2 Timothy 1:5), Phoebe (Romans 16:1, 2), and a host of others. Cf. Romans 16.
Perhaps you ask, “What can I do?” First, get your priorities in order. “Set your affections on things above.” (Colossians 3:2). “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness.” (Matthew 6:33). Think on higher things. (Philippians 4:8). “Do many wonderful works” in the name of Christ. (Matthew 7:22). Show love to all. (1 Peter 3:8; Hebrews 13:1; 1 Corinthians 13:4-8). Do not forsake the assembling. (Hebrews 10:25). Worship in spirit and in truth. (Acts 2:42; John 4:24; Joshua 24:14). “Let all things be done unto edifying…decently and in order.” (1 Corinthians 14:26, 40). Secondly, associate with active members of the church. What must those who were with Paul have learned about serving God? Imagine what those who were around Phoebe learned and received from her. Remember, “Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.” (1 Corinthians 15:33). The American Standard Version has, “Evil companionships corrupt good morals.” Goodspeed has, “Bad company ruins good character.” Be careful of your associates. Also, remember, every negative has a positive. Good company can build and strengthen one’s morals and character. Develop good relationships. In marriage, seek one where you will truly be “heirs together of the grace of life….” (1 Peter 3:7). Marry someone who will help you stay on the strait and narrow road. (Matthew 7:13, 14).
Am I doing what I could and should? What about those who need me who are hungry, thirsty, strangers, in need of clothing, the sick (at home, in hospitals, and such like), those imprisoned, and many others? (Matthew 25:34-40). Do I take care of the widows and fatherless? (James 1:27). Notice when and how those of Deuteronomy 6:1-9 were to teach their offspring. Consider Joshua’s statement in Joshua 24:14, 15. Am I teaching my family properly? Cf. Proverbs 22:6; Ephesians 6:1-4. Do I consider it “more blessed to give than to receive”, or am I selfish? (Acts 20:35). Do I go about doing good? (Acts 10:38). Am I generous like the poor widow of Luke 21:1-4, and so many widowers?
Blessed student of the word, imitate this wonderfully generous lady, Mary. Do not just talk about her; imitate her, and teach others to do the same. Have I done what I could? Will I continue to do little, or will I awaken to do more?