Mark 14:3–9 (ESV) 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. 4 There were some who said to themselves indignantly, “Why was the ointment wasted like that? 5 For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.” And they scolded her. 6 But Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 7 For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. But you will not always have me. 8 She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial. 9 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.”
No other act among people evoked such a response from Jesus: “wherever the Gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.”
Why? What is so special about this act that Jesus should respond to it so strongly?
It seems to me that the words of Jesus in the first part of verse 8 hold the key. So simple, and yet so profound: “She has done what she could.” Herein is my failure so often – I do not even do what I can.
He asks no more of us than what we can do – not what we cannot. He does not ask us to amass great wealth to finance the entire evangelism enterprise, or to reach each individual with the Gospel personally: He asks only that we do what we can.
And how was this demonstrated here? That answer is in verse 3 – “she broke the flask.” She did not uncork it so as to use some to anoint Jesus and retain the rest for herself or others – she wasted it all on Him. With careless abandon. She didn’t worry (apparently) about getting more later, or that once it was gone, it was gone. It was used to bless her Lord and that was all that mattered. She did what she could – and she didn’t hold back.
Heavenly Father, how I long for this same heart in myself. How small must my conceptions of your glory be that I hold back a thing – that I do not even do what I can often? Forgive me. Let me see Jesus’ glory in such a way that this cold, dark stingy heart of mine be warmed and enlightened and set free. For what do I have, that does not belong to you? And what is anything to me, accept to bless you with? Let me do all I can, and not worry about what I cannot. Set me free from clinging to anything in this world that can instead be used to glorify the King who have His dear life a ransom for my wretched soul.