“Leave her alone,” said Jesus. “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, and you can help them any time you want. But you will not always have me. She did what she could.She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial.”
For the last several days, events have been unfolding, and tension is in the air. Jesus’ opponents are plotting and scheming behind the scenes about how to assassinate Him. Jesus sets his face like a flint. He is determined to do God’s will.
The scene on the Wednesday of Holy Week takes place in Bethany at the home of Simon the Leper. Jesus is not teaching in the synagogue today, but spending time around the table with his disciples and others.
Then Mary of Bethany, who is Lazarus’s sister, (the one whom Jesus raised from the dead in John 11), takes a pint of pure, expensive perfume; and pours it on Jesus’ feet. She wiped Jesus’ feet with her hair. Simon’s home becomes full to overflowing with the fragrance of the perfume, and with the love of a woman who loved deeply.
The disciples and others become indignant. They rebuked the woman harshly. That perfume was worth more than a year’s wages, and they could have given the money to the poor. It becomes uncertain why others should have any say in what Mary does for Jesus. Regardless, Jesus instructs them to “leave her alone.” The poor would always be there to help, but Jesus would not. Mary, by this gesture of kindness, was preparing Jesus for burial. Jesus understood, the others did not.
Perhaps you have had others judge you or harshly rebuke you for a sincere thing you did out of kindness to someone. Maybe your life was such as Mary’s with a sordid past but a beautiful Saviour who redeemed her and loved her despite of all that. Or maybe others still look at you as a “woman with a past.” All things pale in comparison to what Jesus says about you as you believe in Him. You are a new creation in Christ,the old has gone, the new has come! (2 Cor. 5:17) Those who have been forgiven much, love much. If you want to read more, see Luke 7:47. The Bible also reminds you and I that God loves us with an everlasting love, He has drawn us with lovingkindness. Now that is real love.
Jesus tells those reclining around the table that wherever the gospel would be preached,throughout the world, what Mary had done will also be told in memory of her. And it is so. What a tender story of redeeming love and one who gave her excellent best for Jesus. Jesus reciprocated that love in a way that is astounding. Never underestimate what your sincere love means to your beautiful Saviour, and how He can multiply that for His own glory.
As the story unfolds, the well know Judas Iscariot, one of the Twelve Disciples of Jesus, went to the chief priests to betray Jesus for a handful of coins. He must have been utterly perturbed by Jesus’ love for a sinful woman. More than that, He was fulfilling the Scriptures told of him beforehand as told in Zechariah 11:12-13. Judas was an instrument in God’s hands.
Soon we will see how a kiss seals the deal. But for now, let us reflect on this question. What kind of legacy will you leave in your memory? Will you give your all to Jesus despite those who criticise and belittle your efforts? Will you give your best gifts to the one who redeemed you with His life? Or will you, like Judas, betray the ones who trust you, betray the God of the universe? Will your legacy be one for good or for evil?
Cry out for mercy to the God of all mercy and do it today. We are all sinners, but for the grace of God.
To borrow the lines of an old beloved hymn, which is based on Psalm 51- (Composer Richard Redhead, 1853)
God, be merciful to me,
On Thy grace I rest my plea;
Plenteous in compassion Thou,
Blot out my transgressions now;
Wash me, make me pure within,
Cleanse, O cleanse me from my sin.
My transgressions I confess,
Grief and guilt my soul oppress;
I have sinned against Thy grace
And provoked Thee to Thy face;
I confess Thy judgment just,
Speechless, I Thy mercy trust.
I am evil, born in sin;
Thou desirest truth within.
Thou alone my Savior art,
Teach Thy wisdom to my heart;
Make me pure, Thy grace bestow,
Wash me whiter than the snow.
Broken, humbled to the dust
By Thy wrath and judgment just,
Let my contrite heart rejoice
And in gladness hear Thy voice;
From my sins O hide Thy face,
Blot them out in boundless grace.
Gracious God, my heart renew,
Make my spirit right and true;
Cast me not away from Thee,
Let Thy Spirit dwell in me;
Thy salvation’s joy impart,
Steadfast make my willing heart.
Sinners then shall learn from me
And return, O God, to Thee;
Savior, all my guilt remove,
And my tongue shall sing Thy love;
Touch my silent lips, O Lord,
And my mouth shall praise accord.
Until tomorrow then, beloved one, remember God is merciful as we turn to Him for mercy.
Thy salvation’s JOY impart.