A few days before Jesus died, an extraordinary thing took place. Mary anointed his body with ointment [Matt 26:6-13]. What she did was so remarkable that Jesus said wherever the gospel is preached, what she did would be told for a memorial of her. Well, I preach the gospel, so I’m going to tell what she did as a memorial of her.
In addition to the details in Matthew’s gospel, we see in Mk 14:3-9 and Jn 12:1-8 that she was in the house of Simon the leper, Lazarus was at supper with Jesus and Martha served, the ointment was a pound of spikenard, she broke the box, she also anointed his feet and wiped his feet with her hair, Judas Iscariot is the one who first complained about the waste of ointment, which he valued at 300 pence, and he suggested that the ointment could have been sold and the money given to the poor, though he didn’t care for the poor because he was thief, who had the bag.
The remarkable thing about what Mary did is that she believed Jesus was going to be crucified, that he was going to be buried and that he would rise again. She was the only one in the room who understood his death, burial and resurrection, which is the gospel we preach [1 Cor 15:1-4]. She knew that if she didn’t anoint him before his crucifixion, she wouldn’t be able to anoint him, at all. How did she know this? What is it about what she did that we want to remember?
Mary heard his word – Lk 10:39 – when you read Lk 10:38-42, you see that Jesus said about Mary’s attentiveness to his words, “one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” Jesus told her some things that were needful and some things that wouldn’t be taken away from her. I believe, among other things, that she knew what Jesus had been telling his disciples all along.
Think about what Jesus had been telling his disciples. In Matt 16:21-22 he told his disciples about his death and resurrection, and Peter rebuked him. In Matt 17:22-23, he told them again that he would be killed and raised again the third day. They were sorry. In Matt 20:17-19, Jesus took the twelve disciples apart and gave them explicit details about his death and resurrection. They followed that with James and John asking for the seats on his right and left hand [Mk 10:35-37]. The ten other disciples were moved with indignation against them. Do you see the pattern? They didn’t hear his word. They were too busy rebuking him, feeling sorry, and fussing among themselves.
Mary, on the other hand, knew what was going to happen. When he came to Jerusalem this time, she knew he was going to die. I want to ask you a question. When you read your Bible, do you sit down and “hear his word?” How much of what he’s trying to get you to hear are you missing because you are too cumbered, careful, and troubled about your life like Martha was? You have some time to sit now. You ought to use this time wisely to “hear his word.”
Mary prepared for the day – Jn 12:7 – Jesus said, “against the day of my burying hath she kept this.” I believe Mary began saving to buy this ointment long before Jesus’ arrival in Jerusalem. When she could afford it, she bought this very costly spikenard and and “kept this” until it was time to anoint Jesus with it. She knew what she was going to do. And she was prepared to do it.
Do you know what you’re going to do? I believe Christians ought to prepare for what they are going to do. If God has something special that he wants you to do, will you be ready? I remember when I was called to preach, the Lord made it abundantly clear that I needed to prepare. When we pray for you, we always pray, Lord help us to give our people whatever you want us to give them to help them prepare for what you want them to do. What are you doing to prepare? Basic preparation includes a solid prayer life, a good understanding in the Bible, obedience to the words of God, a good testimony and a faithful witness, etc.
Mary did what she could – Mk 14:8 – It didn’t make any difference how much it cost. It didn’t make any difference who criticized her. She did it just for Jesus and it was something special that she could do that no one else was able to do. She knew that if she didn’t anoint Jesus before his burial there would be no time to anoint him after his burial. She figured his death on passover, she knew there would be two sabbaths, she knew the morning after the third night would be the first time he could be anointed, and she knew he would be gone. He was going to rise after the sabbath. She had to get it done. In Mk 16:1, the women who came to anoint him were too late. Her timing was impeccable.
Everyone else at supper that night had their own agendas. Peter had the sword, John and James were still thinking about the seats, they were fussing among themselves, they were all talking about how tough they were that they would never be offended, and that they would die with him, they were all worried about the waste and the money, and they all missed what he said. Mary was the only one who got it.
Conclusion: will you get what Jesus is trying to tell you? Or will you be so concerned with your own life and agenda that you miss it completely. You have an opportunity to do what you can before Jesus comes. Why don’t you hear his word, prepare for what he wants you to do, and then do it when the time comes.