A few days before Passover, Simon the Leper invited Jesus to a banquet, perhaps to show Jesus his gratitude for being healed from leprosy.
As Jesus and the others reclining at the table (the common posture for eating at a banquet), an unnamed woman – probably Mary of Bethany (John 12:3) – “came in with an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard. She broke it and poured the perfume on His head.” (Mark 14:9)
The whole place was filled with the beautiful fragrance of the perfume. This woman’s love and appreciation for Jesus was demonstrated in this act. Just as a jeweller places a diamond against black velvet to make the contrast even more obvious, the Holy Spirit highlighted the beauty and radiance of this woman’s love against the dark and corrupt plotting of the religious leaders and Judas, His disciple who betrayed Him.
Some of the guests thought this was a tremendous waste. What a foolish and reckless woman she was to waste this expensive perfume worth more than one year’s wages, they complained. “And they rebuked her harshly.” (verse 5)
People still think that it is a waste to give a few hours of their time to God, let alone their whole life. Many think that believers in Jesus waste their time and their lives.
This woman gave all she had: her life and her wealth. “She did what she could.” (v. 8) She actually recognized her golden opportunity to honour her Saviour. But if the others were so interested to help the poor, why did’t they? The poor would be with them but Jesus would soon die and be buried. This woman wanted to show her appreciation and love while she could.
Jesus commended her for “doing what she could.” She is a good example for us all! “Well, what can I do?” you may ask.
1. Build up your faith
In 1 John 5:4-5 we read: “For everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.”
* We overcome through faith.
* We are as effective as our faith is!
* We must take time to develop strong faith.
Take time to read the Bible daily. “Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17)
Take time to pray. “”Have faith in God.” Jesus answered. “I tell you the truth, if anyone says to this mountain, “Go, throw yourself into the sea,” and does not doubt in his heart but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”” (Mark 11:22-24)
Take time to be alone with God. Exercise your gifts by using them and become active in your church. Exercise your faith and it will grow. And believe that God will always be there for you.
2. Build up other believers
In Romans 14:19, we read: “Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.”
We are all to edify (build up) one another and not focus on the faults of other believers. Christians (true believers) are not perfect, only forgiven.
Don’t cause others to stumble but, rather, consider weaker members of God’s family. When others stumble and fall, you must help and restore them.
” Brothers, if someone is caught in a sin, you who are spiritual should restore him gently. But watch yourself, or you also may be tempted.” (Galatians 6:1)
Do what you can to be a good example to others. ” Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.” (1 Timothy 4:12)
3. Build up the Body of Christ
Ephesians 4:11-12 says: ” It was he who gave some to be Apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers. To prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up.”
There are many things you can do to help build up the Body of Christ. The following are some of the ways you can help and “do what you can”:
* You can help through teaching. Are you gifted and able to teach? You must do what you can! Teaching is not only preaching or teaching Sunday School. You can teach individuals at work, school, and play, with your words and your life. You must do what you can!
* You can help through love: speaking in love, giving in love, encouraging in love – you must do what you can!
* You can help through Evangelism, spreading the Good News. Churches are almost empty because people are not doing what they can! Our church is not full; What are you and I doing to fill it? In order to build up the Body of Christ you and I must share the Good News with others every day.
Is that asking too much? Not at all, just remember what Jesus Christ did for you on the cross and what He is doing daily in your life! We must do what we can. We can make a difference in the Church and in the world.
Mary of Bethany was not a perfect, sinless person and yet Jesus said: “I tell you the truth, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will be also told, in memory of her.” (Mark 14:9)
The fragrance of that perfume reaches down to our generation. She is remembered around the world, as Jesus said she would be.
She did what she could. We must also do what we can to honour God and show our love and appreciation to Jesus Christ who gave His life to set us free from sin and death.
Pastor Joseph Hovsepian