November 3 (Daily reading: Mark 11; John 12) There was a strong difference of opinion over Mary anointing the feet of Jesus (Jn. 12:3). “Some of those present…rebuked her harshly” (Mk. 14:4-5, NIV). The disciples said, “Why this waste?” (Mt. 26:8). But Jesus said: “She has anointed My body beforehand for the burial. Truly I say to you, wherever the gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be spoken of in memory of her” (Mk. 14:8-9).
This story highlights the vast gulf between the values of the world and those of the kingdom of God! The human reaction considered Mary’s gift to be a waste. Waste is understood as giving more than necessary or more than the recipient is worth. Some looked on the surface of Mary’s actions and saw only a waste of expensive perfume. Did they not believe that Jesus was worthy to receive her gift? Jesus looked at Mary’s heart and saw the true value of her gift. Just a short time later, Jesus would say as He considered His approaching death on the cross: “Now My soul has become troubled” (Jn. 12:27). “My soul is deeply grieved to the point of death” (Mk. 14:34). Mary had given Him a gift of recognition of His suffering, and of comfort. She had anointed him in anticipation of His death.
Was Jesus worthy of her gift? How can we learn from her? The anointing represents an offering of what is the most precious and valuable—our very lives! Her generous act would never be forgotten, “wherever the gospel is preached.” Mary’s anointing had been a precursor of the gospel: Jesus gave His all—His life—for us, and we give back to Him our all—our life—in love and service. Consider this principle that Jesus gave to His disciples: “Freely you received, freely give” (Mt. 10:8).
– Al Gary