“She hath done what she could” (Mark 14:8)
We are all tested by times of difficulty. At the present time many of us are in circumstances that we have never experienced before, in that meeting together has been put on hold. Do we then just sit at home and do nothing, or do we do what we can?
Mary of Bethany was prepared for such circumstances and had set aside for the Lord something that was very valuable. She was watching for the moment when she would be able to give it to the Lord.
In Jerusalem the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how they might take the Lord by craft, and put Him to death, as they were motivated by envy. That brought about both danger and difficulty for any lover of the Lord Jesus. But in that home in Bethany, into which Martha had received the Lord and where her brother Lazarus lived, who the Lord had brought again from the dead, there was a welcome for the Lord. He knew it, and resorted there on that darkest of all nights. So it was that Mary grasped the opportunity that she had been waiting for.
The Lord was fully aware of the very valuable box of pure nard that Mary had, as He had no doubt brought about the circumstances whereby it came into her possession. The question was, would she use it for herself, as it was probably that with which she would be anointed on her wedding day, and thus draw attention to herself, or would she give it to Him, that He might be the object of everyone’s attention.
This is a very practical matter in which we are all involved, because the Lord has given each one of us something that can be used for self-gratification, or it can be used for the glory of the Lord Jesus. Every true believer has been sealed by the Holy Spirit and, as born of God, has a new nature that can respond to God’s precious word and be led into the enjoyment of God as a true worshipper. But we have to first yield ourselves to God, and then all that we have. David said in 1 Chronicles 29:14, “For all things come of Thee, and of thine own have we given Thee.”
The Lord Jesus does not expect us to do what we are not capable of, or to give what we do not possess; He alone knows what we have and can say, “She hath done what she could.” Paul’s word to the Philippians, “For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s” (2:21), are a challenge to us: Is it mine or His?
Mary had no doubt about this. By sitting at His feet and listening to His words, she had grown to love Him more than any other, and all that she had she owned as His. And so we read in John 12:3: “Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the odor of the ointment.”
There were some who valued that spikenard at 300 pence, which was equal to a laboring man’s wages for a year, but the Lord’s valuation was exceedingly more than this and warranted His words: “Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, this also that she hath done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her.” Could there be a higher commendation than this for something done for Him?
By contrast to Mary and what she did, we read in Luke 19:20–26 of the wicked servant who was given just one pound, which he obviously considered to be of little value, as he had kept it laid up in a napkin (a sweat rag) instead of putting it to use so that it might increase. He clearly was lazy as he had no need of a cloth to wipe sweat away from his face and instead used it to wrap up the pound he had been given to use for his master. He certainly did not do what he could, but took his ease and did nothing, and so came into condemnation. In verse 26, the Lord applies this parable to each one of us, “For I say unto you, That unto every one which hath shall be given; and from him that hath not, even that he hath shall be taken away from him.”
May we, out of true affection for Christ, use what He has given us for His glory, and thus in a day to come receive His commendation, “She hath done what she could.”