Thing commended by the Lord
the four Gospels record the story of Jesus Christ being anointed with fragrant
perfume by a woman in Bethany
just before the feast of Passover (Matthew 26:1-16, Mark 14:1-11, John
11:55-12:11). The description of Christ’s anointment in Mark has its unique and
detailed aspects. The composition of the passage has the Lord commending the
woman for her act of offering at its center (v. 6). This is placed in between
the evil deed of the chief priests and scribes plotting to capture and kill
Christ (v. 1) and the foul deed of Judas contemplating to betray Him (v. 10-11)
in order to highlight what the Lord praised as a beautiful thing. Matthew and
Mark did not divulge the name of the woman. Perhaps these authors hoped people
in the future would remember what the woman did, rather than the person, Mary.
Jesus Christ wants everyone who preaches the Gospel throughout the world to
tell of the act of this woman, in memory of her. We see how precious of a
beautiful thing she had done.
Lord’s commendation of the woman, we can recognize three points concerning what
God sees as a beautiful thing:
- Doing what one can, and
offering it with thanks: “She did
what she could.” (v.8) In the tense atmosphere of that time when the
powers in control wanted to capture and kill Jesus, Simon and Mary did not
refuse to receive Him because of fear of the Jews. Simon invited the Lord
and His disciples to a meal because Christ had healed his leprosy. Mary
offered the perfume to the Lord during the feast because He had raised her
brother Lazarus from the dead. They had both experienced the grace of the
Lord and were giving thanks to Him at the same time. Jesus was especially
appreciative of Mary because in her thanksgiving and response to the
blessing, she focused on the Lord alone, held nothing back, and offered
everything that she had. To a woman at that time, spikenard bought for the
equivalent of a year’s wages was no small matter, yet she poured it all
out for the love of the Lord.
- Truly knowing the Lord, and doing it for Him: “She poured perfume
on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial.” (v. 8) Christ had long
ago told the disciples that He would go up to Jerusalem, suffer many things,
be rejected by the elders, chief priests and scribes, be killed, and after
three days, rise again (Mark 8:31). Although the disciples had followed
Christ for many years and heard His many teachings and prophesies, they
still did not know the Lord as much as this woman. For she had chosen the
best blessing, and sat at the feet of the Lord to listen attentively to
His instructions. Since she realized that He would soon be killed, she
poured the perfume on Him beforehand. This shows her intelligence, and
also indicates that she truly knew and valued what Jesus did, keeping His
words in her heart.
- Taking the opportunity,
and offering at the right time: “But you will not always have me.” (v. 7) This
woman knew the will of salvation of the Father. He sent His beloved Son to
earth to die in redemption for the sins of the people. Christ must also
rise from the dead to reveal that He is the Lord of resurrection and life.
Very soon after the work of salvation was completed, the Lord would return
to the Father, and she would no longer see his face. Therefore, this woman
seized the only opportunity she had during the festival that commemorates
the salvation of God, to totally pour out the spikenard onto the lamb of
God. This was so that in the grace of salvation of God, she might submit a
bit of fragrant offering in thanksgiving to the benevolent Lord through
her role as a sinner who was bestowed grace.
time of Thanksgiving, let us learn what a beautiful thing commended by God is, through
the beautiful deed this woman did for the Lord.
By: Daniel To