This week we are studying Mary of Bethany, and her extravagant and sacrificial gift to Jesus . . .
She poured out her precious perfume from the alabaster container, and some called her wasteful. Some wondered why. Some may have even chastised her, as Judas did so, very loudly.
Let's learn from Mary today:
Did you think about the fact that when Mary walked away, with Judas' remark hanging in the air, she smelled like Jesus did? She had wiped his feet with her hair, and anointed him with the spikenard. The fragrance would have clung to her skin and clothing, as well. When we are truly devoted to worshipping our Lord, and to doing His will, we will spend as much time as we can in His presence. When we give of ourselves, others will sense that we have been with Him. Just as Moses in the Old Testament came back from speaking with Yahweh, and the people could see his shining face and his changed disposition, I'm certain that people could tell that Mary had been in the presence of Jesus, too. And they will see and sense that in us, too, if we are seeking His face and spending time with Him. We will show to others the mercy that Jesus has shown to us; we will love sinners in the same way that Jesus did.
There is another thing that we can learn from Mary here: she did what she could. And that is what Jesus said about her in Mark's gospel. Mary wasn't going to be able to stop the Pharisees and religious leaders from accusing Jesus. She could not persuade the false witnesses to change their testimony and go against the religious ringleaders of the plot against her Lord. There was no way that she could stop the soldiers from nailing Him to the cross, nor was there any way that she could stop the crowds that would mock Him and revile Him as He hung there, suffering. But this she could do: she could show her love and her worship by sacrificing the most precious of her material possessions.
Do we too often focus on what we can't do? Do we sit and wallow in our self-pity and say, "Well, I can't teach, or sing, or I'm too scared to give my testimony"? Ahh, but what CAN we do? Can we call someone on the phone and invite them to come and meet us at church? Can we purchase extra pantry items at the grocery store and contribute them to the church for fellowship meals, or for a charity for the local folks who need help? Can we email someone who we haven't seen in church for a while? Can we visit at the hospital? The list goes on . . . we can all work together to accomplish great things in His kingdom!
Here is another important lesson: Jesus told the disciples and other folks at the feast to leave her alone, and to stop criticising her. Do we devalue anyone's acts of service? Do we devalue our own? We should never, ever disregard nor devalue the acts of service that we do ourselves, nor those that we see others do. Why spend our time complaining, instead of joining in and worshiping our Lord?
What is Jesus worth to us? To Judas, He would soon be worth thirty pieces of silver. To Mary, He was worth everything she possessed. Is He worth putting money in the offering plate at church, or giving sacrificially to a special offering? Is He worth the time that we would have spent watching our favorite television show, but instead we call someone and make plans to be at church with them? Is He worth giving up the time that we wanted to do something else, to listen to someone pour out their heart and then to give them counsel from the Word? In Romans 12, we are exhorted to be "living sacrifices" -- that just means to give of ourselves, much and often! We can see that we are not just talking about money, we are talking about us. Are we using what we have, to bring honor and glory to Him?
If we follow Mary's example, we will ask ourselves what we can do. And then do it.
We will finish our study of Mary's extravagant love tomorrow.