She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. Mark 14:8
She loaded the plastic container of cupcakes onto the conveyor belt, sending it toward the cashier. Next came the birthday card and various bags of chips. Hair escaped from her ponytail, crowning her fatigued forehead. Her toddler clamored for attention. The clerk announced the total and the mom’s face fell. “Oh, I guess I’ll have to put something back. But these are for her party,” she sighed, glancing regretfully at her child.
Standing behind her in line, another customer recognized such pain. Jesus’ words to Mary of Bethany echoed in her mind: “She did what she could” (Mark 14:8). After anointing Him with a bottle of expensive nard before His death and burial, Mary was ridiculed by the disciples. Jesus corrected His followers by celebrating what she had done. He didn’t say, “She did all she could,” but rather, “She did what she could.” The lavish cost of the perfume wasn’t His point. It was Mary’s investment of her love in action that mattered. A relationship with Jesus results in a response.
In that moment, before the mom could object, the second customer leaned forward and inserted her credit card into the reader, paying for the purchase. It wasn’t a large expense, and she had extra funds that month. But to that mom, it was everything. A gesture of pure love poured out in her moment of need.
In what unexpected ways has Jesus helped you? What might you do—not all, but what—to love Jesus back in a need you see today?
Father, open my eyes to see You inviting me to do what I can do today.
Pure nard or spikenard (Mark 14:3) is an aromatic oil from a plant root grown in the Himalayas. This explains its costliness—“more than a year’s wages” (v. 5) or “more than three hundred denarii” (esv).A denarius was a laborer’s full day’s wage.
Because its fragrance is often associated with a bride on her wedding day (Song of Songs 1:12; 4:13–14 esv), some scholars believe Mary gave her most precious possession—her personal dowry—to Jesus. Mary’s anointment of Jesus with the expensive nard was timely and necessary. When Jesus died, His body was hastily prepared for burial because of the Sabbath observance (Mark 15:42–46). A group of women had planned to go to the tomb to anoint His body after the Sabbath (16:1), but by that time Jesus had already risen. But six days earlier (John 12:1), Mary had anointed Jesus with perfume “to prepare for [His] burial” (Mark 14:8).