Plea for Grace

Doing What You Can

Posted on: March 13, 2009

Mark 14 (NLT)

Jesus Anointed at Bethany

1 It was now two days before Passover and the Festival of Unleavened bread. The leading priests and the teachers of religious law were still looking for an opportunity to capture Jesus secretly and kill him. 2 “But not during the Passover celebration,” they agreed, “or the people may riot.”

3 Meanwhile, Jesus was in Bethany at the home of Simon, a man who had previously had leprosy. While he was eating, a woman came in with a beautiful alabaster jar of expensive perfume made from essence of nard. She broke open the jar and poured the perfume over his head.

4 Some of those at the table were indignant. “Why waste such expensive perfume?” they asked. 5 “It could have been sold for a year’s wages and the money given to the poor!” So they scolded her harshly.

6 But Jesus replied, “Leave her alone. Why criticize her for doing such a good thing to me? 7 You will always have the poor among you, and you can help them whenever you want to. But you will not always have me. 8She has done what she could and has anointed my body for burial ahead of time. 9 I tell you the truth, wherever the Good News is preached throughout the world, this woman’s deed will be remembered and discussed.”

This phrase struck me deeply this morning.  Jesus was entering the most stress-filled and agonizing time of his earthly life.  He had told his followers of his soon-coming betrayal and death. Yet, he still took the time to share a meal with a man who had been healed of leprosy.  Imagine the encouragement and love shown to this man who had been an outcast.  And Jesus would come to his home!

In walks this unnamed woman.  Scholars disagree as to who she is, but I think her actions are much more important than her name. She broke open an expensive jar of perfume (worth a year’s wage, the men at the table said) and poured it over Jesus’ head.  Rich, heady scent of nard filled the room. Perfume dripped down his hair, scenting his clothing and his body.  This woman believed what Jesus said about his death; she believed him, and she did what she could to prepare him for his burial.

The others at the table were eating, talking about money, becoming indignant. They scolded her for “wasting” good perfume.  Imagine, calling Jesus their Messiah, and then considering giving him such a costly gift a waste of money!  They weren’t doing what they could to prepare Jesus for his death.  This woman did what she could.

Jesus did not expect this woman to do everything.  He praised her for doing what she could.  She was devoted to Jesus, and she followed His lead, and listened to her Lord.

Jesus doesn’t expect me to do everything.  Many would say that this woman in the account did nothing that actually mattered.  I’m sure the scent of the nard lingered on his bruised and bloodied body as he was horribly tortured beyond recognition before he was ultimately hung on a rough wooden cross in total humiliation.  Jesus knew what she did, and he said it was enough.

I can’t do everything.  Maybe I can’t even do anything that “matters.”  Except, what Jesus asks me to do matters to Him, and so ultimately it does matter.  Doing what I can may cost me dearly; but my Saviour only asks that I obey Him, and because He is good He will not ask me to do more than I can do — through His strength and through His power and by the power of the Holy Spirit — which could be more than I ever thought possible. . .




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