“And while he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he was reclining at table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over his head” (Mark 14:3).
John tells us that this "woman" was Mary, sister of Martha and Lazarus. But since both Matthew and Mark do not mention her name, let us for the moment forget it as well. The point is made larger if we just consider that this was a passionate seeker of Jesus Christ. That way we can more easily apply it to ourselves.
There is a direct connection between Christian maturity and intimate union with Christ.
What I mean is that most Bible-believing Christians agree that we should do what it takes to grow spiritually: Bible reading, prayer, attend Church, etc. What has largely been overlooked or totally neglected is the direct connection between these activities and our passion for the Lord Jesus himself! This woman had it. Most today simply do not. How can this be? Same Jesus. Same wonderful salvation! Why such ignorance?
Two Opposite Responses
Those at table with Jesus became indignant and even scolded the woman for "wasting" this expensive ointment! Imagine thinking that anything done for Jesus would be extravagant?! But what they are saying finds immediate parallel with our age, doesn't it? We, too, tend to evaluate actions and items according to their price instead of according to their use. We think pragmatically. "This money could've helped the poor." Or, "Look, the woman's sentiment was fine, but once she poured out that super costly ointment, it just absorbed into the ground." Practical. Reasonable. That's what we call it, don't we?
On the other hand, here's how Jesus assessed this woman's display of love: “But Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me” (v. 6). There it is! "She has done a beautiful thing to me!" Oh, who sees this today? The poor you can see and touch. The same goes for money. But such affection settled on Jesus? Well, it's seemingly inefficient and short-lived!? I guess we today must look on such an expression of love as too "mystical," or non-quantifiable."
Yet, right here Jesus says something unique in all his ministry . . . “And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her” (v. 9). What is odd here is that I rarely (if ever!) remember hearing this story told in association with the Gospel. How about you? Why do you think Jesus would have us remember this, yes, connect it to the "Good news," the gospel? Precisely because the good news is all about our being freed from sin's constraints in order to be able to love and adore and express our worship toward the Lord Jesus Christ. Most of Christendom seems to have approached this truth, but most all have come up short. Our love's passion has been lost in formal religion. Let us determine that we will go all the way into such knowledge. Let us "do a beautiful thing" to Jesus, by really loving HIM!