A daily devotion for January 25th
1Now the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread were only two days away, and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were looking for some sly way to arrest Jesus and kill him. 2"But not during the Feast," they said, "or the people may riot."
3While he was in Bethany, reclining at the table in the home of a man known as Simon the Leper, a woman came with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on his head.
4Some of those present were saying indignantly to one another, "Why this waste of perfume? 5It could have been sold for more than a year's wages and the money given to the poor." And they rebuked her harshly.
6"Leave her alone," said Jesus. "Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. 7The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. 8She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. 9I tell you the truth, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her."
10Then Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve, went to the chief priests to betray Jesus to them. 11They were delighted to hear this and promised to give him money. So he watched for an opportunity to hand him over.
12On the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, when it was customary to sacrifice the Passover lamb, Jesus' disciples asked him, "Where do you want us to go and make preparations for you to eat the Passover?"
13So he sent two of his disciples, telling them, "Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him. 14Say to the owner of the house he enters, 'The Teacher asks: Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?' 15He will show you a large upper room, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there."
16The disciples left, went into the city and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover.
17When evening came, Jesus arrived with the Twelve. 18While they were reclining at the table eating, he said, "I tell you the truth, one of you will betray me—one who is eating with me."
19They were saddened, and one by one they said to him, "Surely not I?"
20"It is one of the Twelve," he replied, "one who dips bread into the bowl with me. 21The Son of Man will go just as it is written about him. But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born."
22While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, "Take it; this is my body."
23Then he took the cup, gave thanks and offered it to them, and they all drank from it.
24"This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many," he said to them. 25"I tell you the truth, I will not drink again of the fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it anew in the kingdom of God."
Leave her alone,said Jesus.Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me(Mark 14:6).
Our Lord takes this beautiful incident and shows us the true value of it. He says five things about it that mark it as an extremely valuable act. First, He says,
She has done a beautiful thing to me. The beauty of it lay in its very extravagance. This woman did not spare any of the costly ointment but broke the flask and poured the whole quantity out upon Him. Judas, with his practical computer mind, reckoned it up as worth three hundred denarii. A denarius was the day's wage for a laborer. Three hundred days' wages would be a tremendous sum. In the eyes of Judas, this woman wasted an enormous amount of money when she poured out the ointment upon Jesus. It was such a lavish act, and therein lay the beauty of it.
Second, He said that it was a timely thing she had done.
It was something that could only be done now. Any time you want to do good to the poor you can, because they are always around. And it is right to help the poor. But there are opportunities that come in our life that must be seized at the moment. Mary had sensed this and seized the moment to offer this gift, for such a time would never occur again. It was out of the sensitivity of her heart that she realized that the timing was right, and Jesus recognized this.
Then, she did that which was feasible. That is, she did what she could. She could not fix Him a meal; there was no time for that. She could not make a garment for Him; there was no time for that. There was nothing else she could do to show her love but this. She did what she could. I am sure our Lord has called our attention to that because it is so practical for us. Someone said,
I'm only a man, but I am a man. I can't do everything, but I can do something. And what I can do I ought to do. And what I ought to do, I'm available to do.
The fourth element of this act was that it was insightful. Our Lord says,
She has anointed my body beforehand for burying. Many times Jesus said to these disciples that He was going to die. Not one of them believed him--except Mary of Bethany. She understood that He was heading for burial. And since she could not be sure she would ever have the opportunity later to find His body and anoint it for burial, she did it now, as a loving act of service. What a comfort this must have been to our Lord! Of all these friends who were around Him at this time, only this one had the sensitivity of heart to understand what was happening.
Finally, what she did was deserving of being remembered. It was memorable. Jesus said,
The story of this beautiful act will be told in memory of her wherever the gospel is preached in the whole world. Here we are today, two thousand years later, fulfilling this very word, telling again of the act of Mary of Bethany when she anointed our Lord's head and feet.
Father, help me to understand that Mary is but depicting a far greater sacrifice. May that act of love grip my heart and strengthen me all the days of my life.
Life Application: The Lord Jesus Christ has taught and exemplified extravagant, timely, self-giving love. What will it look like when we allow Him to love others through us?
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Daily Devotion © 2006 by Ray Stedman Ministries. For permission to use this content, please review www.RayStedman.org/permissions. Subject to permission policy, all rights reserved.