In Mark 14, we read about Mary, sister of Martha and Lazarus, and her meeting with Jesus shortly before His death. This part of Mark talks about the alabaster box, something that we’ve heard plenty about, I’m sure. I’ve always looked up to Mary and thought, if I could be like any woman in scripture, I would love to be like Mary. Her heart, her testimony, her dedication to Jesus Christ, her love for Him, is truly astounding and inspirational. We would all do ourselves a lot of good by trying to have a heart like Mary’s. She was a servant, through and through, and she loved serving Jesus. My Pastor preached a message about this story during our morning church service, focusing mostly on verse 8 when Jesus defends Mary from the others who were angry with her after she had used these very expensive ointments on Christ. Verse 8 in Mark 14 says, “She hath done what she could: she is come aforehand to anoint my body to the burying.” and I would like to take this a step further and ask you, ask myself, what are we doing for Jesus? Does our heart have limits? Are we truly His servant, dedicated to Him completely, or are there limits to how far we will go? Mary was willing to give up something that was no doubt a very prized possession. This alabaster box full of ointments was expensive, she had spent most of her money on this very thing, and not only was she willing to give that up for Jesus, but she was willing to give it to Him knowing that the others would be angry with her. She was willing to love Him sacrificially. We have a hard enough time giving up material possessions, whether it be tithes and offerings, giving to those who are less fortunate, to those who need help, can you imagine having to give up a costly material possession and having to face the ridicule from those around you? Verses 4 and 5 say, “And there were some that had indignation within themselves and said, Why was this waste of ointment made? For it might have been sold for more than three hundred pence and have been given to the poor, and they murmured against her.” But Mary’s love had no limits. She was determined to give that to Jesus. She was dedicated to Him, to being His servant no matter the cost, whether it be material or emotional. She did not care if this made her friends angry, all she wanted was to please Jesus. She wanted to comfort Him, to encourage Him, to show Him how much she cared. What are we willing to do for our Savior?
Mary had no idea that Jesus was going to die just days later. She had no idea that He was going to be alone, praying for God to allow this terrible cup to pass from Him. She had no idea what kind of journey He was about to go on. She had no idea that He was going to be crucified on Calvary for her sins, for my sins. All she knew was that she loved Him, and she wanted to be there for Him, with Him, no matter the cost, no matter what happened. The people around her thought that she had gone too far for Jesus. That she had crossed over a line; Jesus was not worthy of that alabaster box. He was not worthy of such dedication. How often do we hear those words, “Don’t be a fanatic.” or “Don’t be one of those crazy, Bible thumping Christians.” from the world. The moment we quote a Bible verse, we see people look at us, silently wondering if we’re one of those fanatics. The moment we try to live out those Bible verses, we have people come out from the wood work, ready to attack us, to mock us, to persecute us. They’ll say, “Hey, it’s okay if you’re a Christian, but you don’t have to be a fanatic and believe everything the Bible says.” because in the world’s mind, believing in the Bible and being so dedicated to Christ that you’re willing to stand up for it, to stand up for Him, that means you are a fanatic. And most of us…well, we don’t like that label. That label tends to go along with other labels…I’m sure some of y’all have heard these, right? Labels like,
- Holier Than Thou
- Bible Thumper
and I’m sure we all know that the list could go on, and on, and on. I’ve been called those things before. I’d be willing to bet that most of us who stand strongly with the Word of God have been called by one of these things at least once in their life. Maybe online, maybe in real life. Who knows. These labels are very popular, and they scare us. After all, we are humans. We desire friends, big social circles, and friends are hard to find when you’ve got one of those labels stuck on your forehead. No one wants to hang out with that Christian who is so dedicated to God that they refuse to go do fun things, that they refuse to give Godly things up, or, God forbid, they are actually giving every ounce of that sinful nature and laying it on the alter for God to take away, to burn away, to destroy, to kill. When the world sees a Christian who is literally putting everything on the alter and saying, “God, take everything away that You can not use for Your glory.” they get scared away because this God thing…it’s real, it’s huge, it’s heavy.
We need more Mary’s. We need more men and women who are putting things down at Jesus’ feet as an offering, not caring a bit about what the world thinks, or about how much it’s going to cost us. We need Christians who hear God calling and throw everything down to go do as He says without carefully calculating the costs. We need Christians who love serving Him, and who are ready to do anything for Him. We need more Mary’s.
Mary’s mind was on Heaven. It was on Jesus. She was focused on what she could do for Him right now, and she couldn’t care less about how much that ointment cost. She couldn’t care less about society’s opinion. She cared about Jesus. We care too much about earthly things. If Jesus walked in, and we had that alabaster box, we would be far more likely to go get the cheaper stuff and use it instead. We would think about how much that alabaster box cost, and how every bit of our money would go down the drain so quickly for just one use, and we would decide against it. We’d tell ourselves, we’re just being smart, we’re just being careful with our money, our expensive items, but it is time that we stop worrying so much about the stuff in this world and start worrying about eternity. Mary was able to be an incredible witness, and just as Christ predicted in verse 9, this story is still being used as a great inspiration to many. The story of the alabaster box and Jesus’ servant is still being told, thousands of years later. I want us to ask ourselves, what kind of legacy will we be leaving? When we are gone, will people look back and think, “She was heavenly minded.” or will they remember us always thinking about this earth, how to pinch pennies, how to live so carefully in this world that we did nothing for Jesus? Maybe we tithed, but not until we thought it out carefully and put it in our budget. Are we willing to go out now? Shake things up now? What if Jesus asked us to give up our box of alabaster, whatever it may be-our home, our money, our fancy hobbies-and lay it down at His feet in order to have something much better…Him?