Margin notes: She has done what she could

Mark 14:8 (ESV) — 8 She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial.

Last evening as Ben Zwickl led us through a study of this portion of Mark, challenging us to consider what may make our own hearts dull at times – I was struck by the simplicity and power of this verse and its account.

Mary (if indeed that’s who it was) does what is misunderstood by some, scorned and questioned by others, and appreciated only by Jesus. But she did, what SHE could.

Two things stick out here:

a. She broke the flask which contained the costly perfumed oil with which she anointed Jesus for His burial. Her warm and not dull heart didn’t just uncork the vessel and dab a bit on Jesus, she “wasted” it all on Him. Oh that I had such a heart to lavishly waste all I have for Him. But she held nothing back. Breaking the flask meant there was no going back, no withholding and no thought of anything other than that this is what she had at hand, and that it was fitting to pour it all out on the Redeemer of her soul.

b. It didn’t matter what anyone else thought, it was what SHE could do. Nothing more, nothing less. Bishop Lightfoot notes that Rabbins thought it was unseemly for a man to be anointed with aromatic oils. It was foppish and indecent. Culturally unacceptable and done only by someone who was boorish and gauche. And Jesus not only endured it, He praised her for it. He made her extravagant, though outwardly awkward act of adoration an example to be celebrated perpetually.

How He accepts what we do on the basis of what WE can do, at that moment with our resources. God isn’t looking for what we can’t do – don’t be paralyzed by that – but dearly receives what we CAN do, however unseemly or misunderstood that might be perceived by others.

Let the heart warmed by His love and grace pour out naturally in response, without fear that some others will look down. Offer what you can to Him. He will receive it. And proper worship will be done.

Father, grant me Mary’s lavish impulse.

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