I can remember sitting down one day a while back with my Bible ready to have my “quiet time”, not realizing that my “quiet time” was about to be interrupted by Jesus. I started reading Mark 14:1-9. The thing was this: I had read this passage over and over before. I had preached it. I had heard it preached by others. So, let’s just say that my head was into reading this passage but my heart just waited for the “experience” to be over.
So I read the passage. Like I said, I had already read it. But then it happened and I was changed forever. This is one of those lessons. It is found in six words. Here are those six words:
She has done what she could.
That’s it. Do you see it? Maybe not. Let me explain.
Jesus had just raised Lazarus from the dead, and so the book of John (chapter 12) tells us that they were throwing a party in Jesus’ honor. I’m not sure if you’re aware of this, but make sure you never forget: it is customary around the world in every culture to throw a party for the person who raises your family member and/or friend back to life from the dead. It’s just a polite thing to do.
Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead, and Mary, Lazarus’ sister, needed to say thanks. She was so grateful for the miracle that Jesus performed in raising her brother back to life. So, she took that jar of pure nard, broke the jar, and poured it over Jesus. As she did this, Judas began to get everyone riled up with a statement like, “Why did she waste all of that on Jesus? Couldn’t it have been sold and the money given to the poor?” The thing is that he was totally right in his logic, but his motivation was nowhere close to his proclamation. Judas was a thief, and all that he saw when she broke that jar was his profit being poured out on Jesus. Judas was able to get the crowd of people who were there ticked off and angry with Mary. They even made their frustrations with her well known.
But then Jesus shows up and comes to her defense. Here’s what he said:
“Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. For you always have the poor with you, and whatever you want, you can do good for them. But you will not always have me. She has done what she could;…” — Mark 14:6-8a; ESV
Three things popped out of this passage.
1). LEAVE HER ALONE. Jesus came to her rescue. As the group of people began to pick apart her worship of Christ, Jesus came and told the whole group to leave her alone.
2). SHE HAS DONE A BEAUTIFUL THING TO ME. This act of worship was beautiful to Christ. Breaking a jar and pouring out perfume all over him doesn’t seem all that impressive. However to Jesus, it was breathtakingly beautiful.
3). SHE HAS DONE WHAT SHE COULD… There’s the freedom. That’s it. “She has done what she could.” Really? All she did was break a jar and pour perfume over Jesus. And the thing is that Jesus calls that gesture “beautiful.” And while everyone was condemning her for it, Jesus proclaimed to everyone there that she did what she could.
There may be some of you reading this blog who feel completely overwhelmed. You look at the list of to-dos on your work calendar, only to get overwhelmed even more when you think about what you need to get done when you get home.
I pray that you hear Jesus’ applause as you strive to live your life for him. I pray, that by his Holy Spirit, you hear his encouraging words that bring death to legalism and condemnation when accepted and applied in one’s life: they did what they could. That’s it.
Like I said before: this was a “regular” quiet time. It was what I was supposed to do. However, God had other plans to release me from the guilt and shame of just not being able to measure up or to do enough for him.
Please know that all that you do for Jesus (I mean actually do for him because you love him) is a blessing to him. When you feel like you can’t go on. wondering if there’s actually a point to all of the stuff that you have to do, remember this passage that shows you that Jesus sees what you do because you love him, and he defends you before your enemies, he gives value to your sacrifice because he knows that you are truly doing all that you can. And to Jesus, that truly is enough.
Be freed and be blessed.