She Did What She Could

woman prayingShe did what she could.

Some, like Judas, criticized Mary of Bethany for what they called an extravagant waste. However, Jesus, the One whose opinion matters the most, praised her. Jesus told Mary’s critics what she did was a beautiful thing. He told them it was something which would be remembered wherever the Good News is told.

The account of a woman in Bethany anointing Christ with oil the week before his crucifixion is told in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, and John. The John account identifies the woman as Mary of Bethany, the sister of Martha and Lazarus.

While it seemed the apostles and others did not understand what Jesus meant when he said he would suffer and die at the hands of men, Mary understood. In that understanding, she took something of great value and offered it as a sacrifice to her Lord. In breaking her alabaster jar of precious perfume, Mary did what she could ahead of time to anoint Christ for his coming burial.

The cost of her gift mattered little to Mary. What did matter to her was that she show her deep love for the man she called Savior and Lord ahead of his death. Compared to what Jesus would do for Mary, she realized her gift was lacking.

Something I find interesting is the fact that in breaking her approximately twelve ounce jar of perfume, pouring it on Jesus’ feet, and wiping his feet with her hair, the fragrance Mary anointed Christ with would have lingered on her long after he left. It would remain as a reminder of the sacrifice Christ was willing to pay for her.

If you’ve ever spilled a bottle of perfume or cologne, even just a little, perhaps you have a small sense of the intensity of the nard oil Mary used to anoint Christ.

Mary willingly offered something of great value in love and gratitude to Jesus. She understood what his sacrifice on her behalf would cost him, and she did what she could, without counting the cost.

Are we willing to do the same?

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Six days before the Passover celebration began, Jesus arrived in Bethany, the home of Lazarus—the man he had raised from the dead. A dinner was prepared in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, and Lazarus was among those who ate with him. Then Mary took a twelve-ounce jar of expensive perfume made from essence of nard, and she anointed Jesus’ feet with it, wiping his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance.

But Judas Iscariot, the disciple who would soon betray him, said, “That perfume was worth a year’s wages. It should have been sold and the money given to the poor.” Not that he cared for the poor—he was a thief, and since he was in charge of the disciples’ money, he often stole some for himself.

Jesus replied, “Leave her alone. She did this in preparation for my burial.” John 12:1-8 (NLT)

You can find my April Inspire a Fire post here. Please stop by and read it.

I wish you well.


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2 thoughts on “She Did What She Could

  1. A poignant reminder of Mary’s love and sacrifice fro Jesus before HIs death. How interesting that the scent would have lingered long after!


    • Thank you, Kathy. As I wrote this post, it came to me that Mary wouldn’t have washed her hair as often as we do. With as much nard as she used, some say 12 ounces, I don’t believe the fragrance would have gone away quickly. Like spilling a bottle of perfume. 🙂 To me, that is something Mary had as a remembrance when Christ died before his resurrection.


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