She has done a beautiful thing to Me.” Matthew 26:10b, Mark 14:6b
When the woman appears in Matthew and Mark’s gospel account, she is nameless. John’s gospel references this woman as Mary from Bethany, the one who poured perfume on the Lord’s feet and then wiped His feet with her hair (12:3).
But her name and identity doesn’t matter; it was her actions that were remarkable. So much so that both Matthew and Mark give the same account of Jesus’ response.
“I tell you the truth, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.” Matthew 26:13, Mark 14:9
Jesus must have made this proclamation with enough emphasis and passion that these two disciples each took the same mental notes and recorded the truth accordingly.
When the woman entered the home of Simon the Leper, she held an alabaster jar of expensive perfume called nard, or spikenard.
“a woman came with a jar of very expensive perfume, made of pure nard.” Mark 14: 3
Nard was a class of aromatic, amber-colored, essential oil derived from the flowering plant of the Valerian family (Nardostachys jatamansi). Their stems were crushed and distilled into this thick and fragrant oil (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spikenard). Being a somewhat complicated process to go from plant to perfume, it drove up the value and cost to a potential consumer.
Now…in my humble opinion…nard, or spikenard, was not the most marketable name for a fragrance. Any notable perfumer might have suggested something along the lines of Ancient Alluring, Oil Irresistible, or Essence of Valerian.
At any rate, the woman was someone worth noting because of what she did to Jesus, not who she was.
~She came to Jesus.
What about me? Do I look for where God is and join Him there? Or do I flag Him down to come join me in my own agenda?
~She broke the jar.
What about me? Am I willing to break something of great value for the blessing of another? Am I willing to be broken? Or am I clutching my piggy bank to my chest?
~She poured out that expensive perfume, about a pint (2 cups) of it (John 12:3)
What about me? Do I give my ‘perfume’ generously?
Scripture records that the woman’s sacrifice was what she’d done to him, rather than for him. An action or sacrifice done to someone runs deeper than something done for another. It can suggest a greater personal sacrifice, a desire to pay honor to another. The difference is subtle but powerful.
It could be argued that the woman didn’t realize the value of the perfume, but I’m not buying that. Not at all. I think she was well aware of its value and what she could sell it for. Through her eyes, perhaps, the nard didn’t compare to the sacrifice Jesus would be making for her in His upcoming death for the forgiveness of sin. She may have thought, ‘This isn’t much, but it’s the best I have so I’m giving it all to the One who can’t be out given.’
What about the disciples, those hand-picked followers of Jesus? In a manner of speaking, they flipped out over her actions. And inadvertently exposed the ugliness in their hearts.
“Why this waste?”, they asked. “This perfume could have been sold at a high price and the money given to the poor.” Matthew 26:8-9
And Jesus’ response?
“Leave her alone…She has done a beautiful thing to Me.” Matthew 26:10 and Mk 14:6
The woman displayed a deep reverence and respect for Jesus by anointing His head, symbolically preparing Him for His death and burial. For without Jesus’ death, she had no hope.
Neither would I.
Were she merely being ostentatious, looking to be written up in the Bethany Herald, He’d have seen right through her.
[bctt tweet=”God accepts lavish expenditure when deep devotion to Him is the motive.” username=”MaryAFelkins”]
What the woman did to Jesus was, indeed, beautiful.
In years to come, much will be said of what I’ve done, too. Will it be a beautiful thing?