There is lots of action in Chapter 14 of the book of Mark. Jesus celebrates the Passover with his disciples, He prays in the Garden of Gethsemane, He is arrested, brought before the Council and denied by Peter. However, what strikes me in my meditative reading is a small incident that comes before all the “big” things. He is anointed with nard by a woman at the house of Simon the leper. In the gospel of John, this woman is identified as Mary of Bethany. Some of those present grumbled at the waste of this costly ointment, but Jesus replied:
“She has done a beautiful thing to me.” Mark 14:6
I’ve been pondering what made this gift so special and here’s what I came up with:
- It was sacrificial. The nard was not only expensive, it’s been suggested that it might have been part of Mary’s dowry.
- It was personal. Mary did not send a servant, but anointed Jesus herself. In the account in John, she wiped his feet with her hair.
- It was compassionate. She seems to realize that Jesus will not always be with them. As someone who was a friend and “sat at His feet” listening, perhaps she actually heard and understood that His death was coming, because Jesus said “she has anointed my body beforehand for burial.”
Now I’m questioning myself — what beautiful thing have I done for Jesus? When have I been sacrificial and compassionate? When have I taken the time to give what’s needed in a loving and personal way? This is not easy to consider. Although I do many things “for Jesus” they don’t always measure up to Mary’s example. I often do my “things” in a way that’s rushed and distracted. I’ve got a list of “church chores” that need to be checked off my list. I guess that’s the “Martha” side of me. This phrase encourages me to slow down, listen carefully and be a “Mary.” I, too, want to offer a beautiful thing.
For more posts of the study of Mark see:
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