In Mark 14 we find a number of wonderful lessons from the lives of everyday people—people like you and me. The chapter begins with the house of Simon (once a leper) and a woman who came to the Lord Jesus and broke open an alabaster box filled with spikenard and poured it on Jesus’ head. It is a familiar story, but it was truly a profound sacrifice. The Lord gave me a simple outline concerning her gift that I’ll share with you.
1. It Was Unrequested
There had been no appeal for spikenard, no commitment cards passed out, no moving video sharing a need. Most of us have given in response to such appeals—and often times we need to be told of a need. But this woman was moved by her love, by a need impressed upon her by the Holy Spirit. How wonderful it is to sense that God is moving you to give—and you give!
2. It Was Unimaginable
This fragrant ointment, spikenard, was precious—costly. It would have taken an entire year’s wage for a working man to buy that spikenard, and I don’t believe women were paid on an equal basis with men. When you think of giving an entire year’s income and then some, it is mind boggling. It certainly goes beyond what I could imagine giving—my wonder at this woman’s devotion grows as I ponder this.
3. It Was Unreserved
There is a great picture in that broken box. Nothing was held back, there was no measuring out. Her giving was without reservation for herself. Once she was convinced in her heart that this was the right thing to do, she gave her all.
4. It Was Unrewarded
That is, by those there that day. No one applauded her or said, “Wow Mary, what a great gift. The Lord will bless you for this. Thanks for being such an example of love.” Instead she got, “Stupid woman. What waste.” That attitude really displayed a low view of the worthiness of Jesus Christ.
People grumbled that this oil was not used to help the poor. I have often thought that they wanted it for the poor because then they would not have to give to the poor themselves.
What is it that motivates you to give and sacrifice? Have you ever done something kind or generous because you knew someone would notice and give you a little bit of praise?
5. It Was Unforgettable
Jesus came to this woman’s defense and identified the value of her gift—both prophetic and practical. The message of this story is to act while we have opportunity.
Jesus said that this woman’s sacrifice would be spoken of wherever the Gospel is preached. And here we are, two millennia later, still talking about her and her marvelous gift of love.
The chapter also includes the story of Peter—bold, brash, outspoken, and a disappointment to His Lord and himself. As I pondered the difference between the two, I concluded that Peter was “all talk, and no action,” while this woman, Mary I surmise, was “all action, and no talk.” My heart’s desire would be to follow her example.