September 19, 2011
Mary of Bethany
“She hath wrought a good work.”
The home in Bethany, the warmth and welcome, and the anointing are all familiar to us. We are reminded of the value the Savior placed on Mary’s devotion, at the estimation of an unbeliever such as Judas and his influence on others to make carnal judgments of the worth of devotion to Christ.
It is interesting and insightful that only the Gospel of the Perfect Servant, Mark, includes these words: “She hath done what she could.” The Perfect Servant alone is able to set a right value on the service of others. He appreciated her heart and her adoration.
What may not be appreciated however is what Mary accomplished by her act of worship. The chapter begins with the leaders of the nation determining to put Christ to death. The only proviso is that it could not be on the feast day. Yet, God had determined, in fulfillment of the type, that Christ was to be offered on the feast day, the Passover. The counsel of men was on a collision course with the purposes of God. How would God overcome the plans and purposes of men? How would He see to the fulfillment of His counsels? Enter Mary, the worshiper.
The result of her devotion and worship is that frustration and anger, the fruit of greed unslaked, so fills the heart of Judas, that he makes a fateful decision. “And Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve, went unto the chief priests to betray him.” The result was that they agreed to cooperate with Judas when he could find a convenient time to betray Christ. Thus, Judas, and not the chief priests, would determine the time. In reality, God, and not men would determine the time. The one stipulation that the leaders had made is compromised as a result of having Judas on their side.
How did all this come about? One woman worshiping the Savior. She possibly never knew in this life the full ramifications of her worship. But she knows now.
1. God’s estimate of her alabaster box was that it was “very precious.” Does this give us insight into how God values our worship of His Son?
2. The Lord Jesus said, “She hath wrought a good work.” Does the use of the word “wrought” suggest something more than an impulsive act? Was their preparation and forethought? Does this have any reflection on our worship?
3. In Mark we are told that she poured the ointment on His head; in John we are told she poured it at His feet. Is this a contradiction or is each writer describing the event in keeping with the presentation of Christ in each Gospel? Mark as the Servant, and John as the Son of God?