Matthew 26:6-13 gives us a moving account of an event that took place just before Jesus was crucified:
“Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper, a woman came to Him, having an alabaster flask of ointment of great value, and she poured it on His head as He reclined at table. But when the disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, Why this waste? For this could have been sold for much and given to the poor. But Jesus, knowing it, said to them, Why do you trouble the woman? She has done a noble deed to Me. For the poor you have with you always, but you do not always have Me. For in pouring out this ointment on My body, she has done it for My burial. Truly I say to you, Wherever this gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what this woman has done shall also be told as a memorial of her.”
What was the ointment of great value?
In those days, ointment, a substance compounded with oil, aromatic resins, and spices, was used in cosmetics, as medicine, and to anoint the body of the deceased for burial. Because it was so costly, it was stored very carefully, not in a fragile container, but safely, in a special flask made of alabaster.
This ointment was surely the most precious thing the woman had. Yet she, Mary, came and poured her treasured possession on the Lord’s head, lavishly, unstintingly, and unreservedly.
Why did she do it?
What Mary did was not in response to a commandment from the Lord. It was in response to the Lord’s great love, manifested in His dying on the cross; Mary’s love for the Lord motivated her to pour out the ointment on Him. To her, nothing was more precious than the Lord Himself. By pouring out her most prized possession on Him, she testified that Jesus was worthy of all her love and all she had.
How did Mary come to love and treasure the Lord Jesus so much?
Previous to this, on four different occasions in Matthew the Lord Jesus had spoken of His coming death and resurrection. He told those with Him that He would suffer many things from the chief priests, elders, and scribes, be condemned to death by them, and delivered to the Gentiles. He told them that the Gentiles would mock Him and scourge Him, and ultimately crucify Him. Jesus also told them that after these things, He would be raised on the third day.
By the Lord’s words, Mary realized that the Lord who had healed them, released them from the bondage of the devil, spoken words of life to them, and revealed God’s kingdom to them, was going to die for them.
Note 1 for Matthew 26:12 speaks of the relationship between seeing Christ and loving Him:
“Mary received the revelation of the Lord’s death by the Lord’s words in 16:21; 17:22-23; 20:18-19; and v. 2. Hence, she grasped the opportunity to pour the best she had upon the Lord. To love the Lord with our best requires a revelation concerning Him.”
When we see the crucified and resurrected Jesus in the Word of God, we can’t help but love Him utterly and give our best to Him.
Why did she choose to anoint the Lord at that time?
The final time Jesus spoke of His death, He let His followers know exactly when these things would happen. In Matthew 26:2 Jesus said,
“You know that after two days the Passover takes place, and the Son of Man is being delivered up to be crucified.”
Mary, by this word, understood that the Lord’s death by crucifixion was just days away.
Since ointment was used to anoint the dead for burial, why did Mary anoint the Lord while He was still alive? She wanted to anoint Him before He was taken away and crucified, to show her love while she could.
In contrast, Mark 16:1 tells us that after the Lord was crucified, some women came to His tomb with spices to anoint His body. But by then they were too late, for He had already resurrected. Mary, though, not only loved the Lord, she loved Him in a timely way. She gave her best to anoint the Lord in love before He was crucified, when she had the chance. The Lord not only recognized that she did this for His burial, but He also praised her for it.
How good it would be if we, like Mary, were to realize we must not only love the Lord, but love Him with our best in a timely way! Instead of putting off loving Him and consecrating ourselves to Him, we would love the Lord now and give ourselves to Him now, while we have the chance. Note 1 from Matthew 26:11 tells us, “We must love the Lord and grasp the opportunity to love Him.”
Was it a waste?
At that time, the disciples thought Mary’s act was an extravagant waste. They didn’t see then the preciousness that Mary saw. Today, our yet unsaved family and friends, our work colleagues, and our schoolmates may think that loving Jesus with our all is a waste of our time, talents, and energy.
But what looks like a waste in the eyes of some is not a waste in the eyes of the Lord or in the eyes of those who love Him in such a way.
Note 1 on verse 8 is a wonderful word on “waste”:
“The disciples considered Mary’s love offering to the Lord a waste. Throughout the past twenty centuries thousands of precious lives, heart treasures, high positions, and golden futures have been ‘wasted’ upon the Lord Jesus. To those who love Him in such a way He is altogether lovely and worthy of their offering. What they have poured upon Him is not a waste but a fragrant testimony of His sweetness.”
The Lord Jesus, the most lovely and loving One in the universe, gave His own life for us. How worthy He is of all our love, all we have, and all we are! And now, not later, is the best time for us to lovingly and unreservedly pour out in consecration our hearts, our lives, our futures—our all—on Him.
The words of the song below, “Mary Poured Out Her Love Offering,” are based on Matthew 26 and the notes in the Recovery Version, and express the incomparable joy of loving the Lord Jesus and giving ourselves to Him. We hope you enjoy it.
“Mary poured out her love offering
To many such love was a waste.
Throughout all of the centuries
Such lovers Your sweetness do taste.
Precious lives and heart treasures, too
Positions and golden futures,
Have been ‘wasted’ on You, Lord;
Your sweetness a fragrance so sure.
She took opportunity
To love You; Lord, with her best.
Like her, Lord, I too would pour
My love and all that I have.
As I love You I set my being—
My spirit, my soul and body.
With my heart, my mind, and my strength,
Absolutely on Thee.
Lord, I let my entire being
Be occupied by Thee
As I enter in Your heart
I sense a fellowship sweet.
Occupied and lost in You;
My Lord, You’re my everything.
Fellowship so intimate;
In spirit Lord I enjoy Thee.
Lord there’s none in heav’n nor on earth
That I desire but Thee.
Though my heart and flesh faileth, Lord,
Thou ever my portion will be.
All is vanity, all is dung;
I count all other things loss;
Everything else drains my love
But You have captured my heart.
Lord, I’ve seen Thy preciousness,
Thy worth, Thy reality.
Now, my Lord, I must confess
My heart is only for Thee.”
You can listen to the tune here.
If you want to learn more about consecration and how to consecrate yourself to God, take a look at these additional posts: What Is Consecration and Why Do I Need to Consecrate Myself to God?, How Do I Consecrate Myself to the Lord?, Consecration: God’s Purchase and God’s Love.
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