A Good Work Performed
In these verses Mark records the story of a woman coming into the house of Simon the leper and anointing the Lord Jesus for his burial. It is an event recorded in all four of the gospel narratives. Comparing Scripture with Scripture, I cannot avoid the conclusion that this woman was Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, and that she is the same woman referred to as Mary Magdalene, out of whom the Lord Jesus had cast seven devils (Mark 16:9; Luke 8:2). Perhaps the reason Mark withheld her name was modesty. Some have suggested this woman was his mother.
She was a remarkable woman, modest and unassuming. She said very little. In fact, I have found only one sentence written in the Scriptures which was spoken by Mary. It is found in John 11:32. “Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.”
Yet, God the Holy Spirit holds Mary before us on four occasions in Holy Scripture as an example of the love for, devotion to, and faith in Christ, that is inspired by and flows from the sweet experience of his saving grace.
1. In Luke 10:39 we see Mary sitting at the Lord’s feet, absorbing every word which fell from his lips.
2. John describes Mary falling at the Master’s feet in humble, submissive faith (11:32). As a broken-hearted woman might run into the arms of her husband for comfort, Mary ran to the Lord Jesus, fell at his feet, and sought comfort in him in her time of great sorrow.
3. Matthew tells us that early in the morning of the resurrection, Mary was at the tomb where our Lord’s body had been buried (28:1-9). She was the first one to hear the good news of the resurrection. She was the first one to see the risen Christ. This woman was the first one to proclaim the resurrection.
4. Here in Mark 14 we see Mary in the house of Simon the leper breaking “an alabaster box of ointment of spikenard very precious,” anointing the Lord Jesus for his burial (Mk. 14:3-9).
This picture of this dear woman is perhaps the most instructive of the four. Our Lord himself declares “She hath wrought a good work on me” (v.6). “She hath done what she could” (v.8). “Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, this also that she hath done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her” (v.9). Truly, this woman sets before us a remarkable example to follow. She who had been forgiven much loved much and gave much. Blessed is that man or woman who is given grace to follow her example!
Our Lord Jesus says of Mary’s humble anointing of him, “She hath wrought a good work on me.” This good work, which was performed by Mary, might be most reasonably expected from any believer.
Like you and me, Mary had experienced the grace of God in Christ. This work which she performed was only the spontaneous response of gratitude and love for the grace of God she had experienced. It was but her reasonable service (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). She had been given faith in Christ. The Lord Jesus revealed himself to her and gave her the gift of faith. He chose her and graciously caused her to choose him. The demons who tormented her and held her captive were driven from her; and the Son of God established his throne in her heart. Her sins, which were many, were all forgiven her. The Lord graciously revealed to her the mysteries of the gospel. Mary alone seems to have known and understood how the Lord Jesus would accomplish redemption by his death as our Substitute. With all these things in her heart, Mary came to Simon’s house to anoint her Lord in anticipation of his death and resurrection.
Yet, Mary’s loving devotion and sacrificial zeal drew a very unexpected response from those who witnessed it (vv. 3-5). She must have been shocked by the comments she heard. She only wanted, in some modest way, to honor her Lord. The fact is, those who serve the Lord Jesus with the most ardent, self-sacrificing devotion are often ridiculed and criticized by those who ought to imitate their examples.
For her good work, Mary was severely censored by Judas, the church treasurer (John 12:4-6). And all the disciples, following Judas’ wicked lead, became indignant at what they considered was Mary’s waste. They said, “To what purpose is this waste?” (Matthew 26:8).
If you are committed to Christ, if you are inclined to do some unusual service for him, just for his honor and his glory, for the interests of his kingdom, for the furtherance of his gospel, simply because you love him, simply out of a deep sense of overwhelming gratitude, do not expect the approval of either the world, religious hypocrites, or even true believers. Whole-hearted devotion exposes and condemns half-hearted religion. It stirs up the wrath of those whose hearts are cold and indifferent. Real consecration to Christ is sure to be criticized and mocked by those who know nothing about it.
Though her actions were criticized and condemned by others, even by her friends, the Lord Jesus approved of, highly esteemed, and commended both Mary and her work (vv. 6-9). Nothing else mattered to her. No opinion was important to her but his. Because the Lord Jesus was pleased with Mary, she appears to have been oblivious to what anyone else had to say about the matter. She did it just for him. They really did not matter. Her faith in, love for, and devotion to the Son of God gave her courage and strength. May God be pleased to give me grace to follow the example of this blessed woman.
Listen to sermons at FreeGraceRadio.com