Mary’s Love for Jesus Poured Out
Mark 14:3-9 (see also Matt. 26:6–13; John 12:1–8 ) NKJV
3 And being in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper, as He sat at the table, a woman came having an alabaster flask of very costly oil of spikenard. Then she broke the flask and poured it on His head. 4 But there were some who were indignant among themselves, and said, “Why was this fragrant oil wasted? 5 For it might have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.” And they criticized her sharply. 6 But Jesus said, “Let her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a good work for Me. 7 For you have the poor with you always, and whenever you wish you may do them good; but Me you do not have always. 8 She has done what she could. She has come beforehand to anoint My body for burial. 9 Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her.”
Picture yourself as one of Jesus’ disciples. You’re sitting around a friend’s house for a meal, and a woman you know, Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, comes in. Without saying a word, she stands before Jesus, takes out a very expensive bottle of perfumed oil, breaks it open, and pours the entire bottle over Jesus’ head. What goes through your mind?
Most of Jesus’ disciples were men, that may be why they looked at the situation from a common sense point of view. They just heard Jesus tell the rich man to sell everything and give the money to the poor, and here Mary has just wasted a year’s worth of wages by pouring it over Jesus’ head. It’s no wonder that they berated her for such an action. Think how much that could have done for the poor! Isn’t this what Jesus was going to tell her?
But they were wrong. Jesus always looks at our heart. And He could see she was focused solely on Him and what she could do for Him. He could see her need to show Him her love. Jesus knew she was doing this because she believed every word He said about His upcoming death, that He was dying for them, and she had a deep need to thank Him.
Think about Mary sitting at Jesus’ feet in her home. She was totally unaware of what was going on with her sister Martha, all the work she was doing on her own that they usually shared. They had a lot of company in the house. Why wasn’t Mary helping to prepare and serve the food? Martha was doing her best to serve the Lord in the way she knew to. But Mary was totally enthralled by every word Jesus had to say. She wasn’t even aware anyone else was in the room. This was her Lord, and she wanted to soak in His presence, to learn everything she could from Him. His words touched and enlivened her very spirit! Nothing was more important that this. And by paying such close attention to His every word, she knew. She knew He wouldn’t be with them much longer, not in the physical sense like He was now. She knew He was going to die soon, and she had to do something to show Him her devotion and love.
She remembered the alabaster flask of spikenard that her mother had left her. It was her most prized possession, but she’d give up everything for Christ, the Messiah they had all waited so long for. She decided to use it to anoint His body for burial, because even though He hadn’t given them many details about His upcoming death, she sensed there wouldn’t be time or opportunity later. So she took the bottle from its hiding place and went to Simon the leper’s house, where she knew He would be.
As she got to Simon’s door, she wasn’t at all nervous. She didn’t worry He would reject her gift, or push her away. She didn’t even consider what the others there would think. The disciples already thought she was in love with Jesus. They couldn’t see her true love for Him was as her God, her Father, her Teacher, her Shepherd, that her life had been forever changed, given purpose and meaning since He came into it. She just couldn’t explain it to them, or even to her sister Martha. And it didn’t matter if anyone else understood why she needed to do this. Jesus knew. He knew her heart, and that is all that mattered.
Mary’s story is one of deep love and devotion, of single-mindedness and laser focus on the Lord. I imagine she thought many times of how amazing it was to be there with Jesus. Her people had waited for the Messiah for over a thousand years, and here He was in their living room! That is hard to even fathom. It was not lost on Mary, and she wanted to make the most of it in the time she had with Jesus.
So how do I show my love for Jesus? This is the question I have been contemplating since I read Mark 14:3 yesterday. In our heart of hearts, I think all we really want is to find some way, someway that is our very own, that no one else told us to do, some way to show Jesus how much we love Him. It’s not an easy thing, but it is something worth thinking about every day.
Lord, we love You so very much. You see our hearts and know that we want to be like Mary, to be so focused on You that nothing else matters. (Matt 6:33) As Mary had no worry about what others thought of her actions, and no second guesses if this was the right thing to do, embolden us every day to lavish our love on You with no restraints. Thank You for showing us true love beyond measure, and for giving us this example in Your word of how to love You deeply. Amen.