She Hath Done What She Could (Mark[14]1-9)

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The Annointing of Jesus


Text: Mark 14:1-9

Parrallel passages: Matthew 26:6-13; John 12:1-8

*Do not confuse with a similar incident in Luke 7:36-50

Introduction:  Mary is found three times in the Gospel record and each time she is at the feet of Jesus.  Luke 10:38-42; John 11:31-32; John 12:1-8.

I. The Work.

    The events in this passage take place within the week prior to Jesus' crucifixion.  He has retired to Bethany, a few miles east of Jerusalem, and the home of Simon, a leper who may have previously been healed by Jesus.  He is there with his disciples.  Among others present are Lazarus, whom Christ raised from the dead (John 11), and his two sisters Mary and Martha; John 12.

    While they reclined about the dinner table a woman (identified as Mary in John 12) proceeds to annoint Jesus head and feet with a precious ointment and then wiped His feet with her hair, John 12:3.  Annointing a guest's head was a common practice at the Jews festive meals, but as we shall shortly see, Mary's act had a greater significance.

    The ointment was spikenard, derived from nard an aromatic oil which was made from a rare plant root native to India.  The pint-sized container of this expensive ointment was equal in value to a working man's wages for a year (300 pence or denarii), vs.5.

    Mary broke the container and poured out it's costly contents upon the Lord.

II. The Results of the Work.

There are three separate results of Mary's sacrifice mentioned in the Bible.

A. The House was filled with the sweet-smelling aroma of the ointment. John 12:3

If we will love and worship Jesus Christ as Mary did, our homes will also be adorned with a sweet "spiritual fragrance".

II Cor. 2:15-16 For we are unto God a sweet savour of Christ, in them that are saved, and in them that perish:

16 To the one we are the savour of death unto death; and to the other the savour of life unto life. And who is sufficient for these things?

B. She was severely criticised by the disciples.

The ringleader of this criticism is identified in John 12:5 as Judas Iscariot.  With this there comes in to view some stark contrasts between Judas and Mary.  Others of the disciples criticised Mary because of their lack of perception and insensitivity, but Judas because of his greed; John 12:6.  When the treachery of Judas is contrasted with the love and loyalty of Mary the ugliness of his sin makes the beauty of her sacrifice shine even brighter.

His criticism was this, "Why was this waste of the ointment made?"  The world does not understand that worldly wealth is of no lasting value.  Judas question is ironic in the sense that the word waste here is the same word (Gk. -  ) which is translated perdition in John 17:12.  Judas belittled Mary for wasting material wealth, but he wasted his entire life.

Furthermore, Judas complained that the ointment "might have been sold.....and given to the poor."  Judas was a hypocrite, he did not care for the poor, but the lining in his own pockets. 

C. She was commended by Jesus.

When you serve the Lord and do good works for the sake of Christ criticism is bound to come your way.  When it does, just remember that commendation from the Lord is more important than any of man's applause.  I Cor. 15:58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.

III. Christ's Commendation of the Work.

A. She hath wrought a good work on me. vs.6

Mary's motive was pure.  Christ acknowledged that it had been done for His sake.  There is no higher or nobler motive than this. 

B. She hath done what she could. vs.7

Mary's sister Martha was often busy serving, but Mary was found at the feet of Jesus.  Time, Talent, and Treasure are given to all.  We cannot give what belongs to another, but we can give of what we possess.  Mary's gift was not Martha's but she did what she could.

C. She had annointed Christ's body beforehand in preparation for it's burial. vs.8

This fact contrasts the evil work of Judas in betraying Christ. 

D. Her work would remain as a perpetual memorial. vs.9

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