The powerful aroma of spikenard must have filled the room and mingled with the smell of food. Mary had taken ointment and had poured it on Jesus’ head as well as His feet as Jesus was eating a meal at Simon the Leper’s house.1 The value of this ointment represented the yearly wages of a laborer. Many who observed Mary’s selfless act were critical. “The money could have been used to help the poor,” they reasoned.
However, Jesus came to Mary’s defense. “Let her alone; why trouble ye her? she hath wrought a good work on me.” Jesus reminds the critics that they would have plenty of opportunity to help the poor, but that He would not always be with them. “She hath done what she could: she is come aforehand to anoint my body to the burying.” Then Jesus said a startling thing: “Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, this also that she hath done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her.” Mary’s actions were so noteworthy that Jesus promised that this act would be a memorial to her throughout the whole world wherever the Gospel would be preached.
Christ desires and greatly values the personal worship and adoration of His disciples. Mary poured out her heart to Christ even as she poured out the ointment on His body. She adored her Lord even though the setting was public and unsympathetic. While we must do our part to feed and clothe the poor, we may never neglect to worship and show our gratitude to Christ our Saviour. This worship must precede and supersede the works of service that we endeavor to do.
Christ desires that His disciples “do what they can” for Him. Mary “did what she could” for Christ when she used the resources—a year’s worth of wages—that she possessed. She took the opportunity to worship while it presented itself. We, too, must be willing to give of our resources to serve Christ. We must take every opportunity that we can to show honor to Christ. It may be joining others in heart and voice in a public worship service. It may be giving Christ glory for both blessed and difficult experiences He brings into our lives. It may be spending time studying the Word and fellowshipping with Christ. Christ recognizes when we “do what we can.”
Christ appreciates when His disciples “work a good work on Him.” Mary expressed faith when she “wrought a good work” on Jesus; for, Jesus explained that Mary had “anointed His body to the burying.” While we today cannot bestow work on the physical body of Christ, we may bestow works of faith upon the Body of Christ, the Church. We honor the body of Christ as we honor the Church of Christ. When we dedicate our time, our money, our abilities, our passion, and our first love to Christ and His Church, Christ is pleased and recognizes our efforts.
May the memorial of Mary’s adoration for her Lord, inspire us to act with adoration towards Christ. May this aroma of adoration emanate from our lives as we continue to preach the Gospel to the world today.
1 Compare Matthew 26:6–13 and Mark 14:3–9 with John 12:1–8.
~ Peach Bottom PA