Cherith Baptist Church
Mat. 26:7-13 There came unto Him a woman having an alabaster box of very precious ointment, and poured it on His head, as He sat at meat But when His disciples saw it, they had indignation, saying, To what purpose is this waste? For this ointment might have been sold for much, and given to the poor. When Jesus understood it, He said unto them, Why trouble ye the woman? for she hath wrought a good work upon Me. For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always. For in that she hath poured this ointment on my body, she did it for my burial. Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her.
In our last study, we looked at the work which Mary did in anointing Christ and compared this to His work of salvation in emptying that precious box, His body, for the redemption of His people. Mary acted solely from a heart that loved her Lord with great affection and her actions were of a self-sacrificing nature. That little box of ointment had cost her much but no cost was to great to spend on the One who had done so much for her. A heart of this nature is looking for ways to express itself and what better way than to give up her costly possession to Jesus. How different was the work of Christ in His giving His body as a sacrifice to His Father? Not a part of Him, but He gave His all from the manger to the grave and now the Church repeats the words that He spoke concerning Mary, “she hath done what she could.” As He commended her for such a noble work, so the redeemed offer up the sacrifice of praise continually, here and especially through out eternity.
It is our desire in the present study to show something of Mary’s character and how she is a model for every Christian. Not only do our deeds but the very words that we speak tell others about the condition of our heart. Mat. 12:34 “O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. vs. 35. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things.” The things we do and say come from a heart devoted to Christ our Lord or from a heart that is so full of self, sin, and the world that we only continually bring forth that which is evil.
1. Mary had a heart fully devoted to the person of Christ.
It matters not how well the head is fixed nor how great the labors of our hands, if our heart is not in the very deeds we do. The Lord Jesus commended the church of Ephesus for several matters; their labor, patience, church discipline -which was a result of their knowledge of Him and the Scriptures: yet, there remained that one solemn condemnation, “Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou has left thy first love.” Rev. 2:4. It was because of her devotion to Him that brought this admiration towards her and her work and sharply rebuked the disciples for the indignation they had against that which she did. As he commends her, you can almost hear Him say, ‘this is the type of service that I expect to have from all the true followers and especially you who are my disciples. By this word spoken of her actions, we realize His commendation makes Mary’s actions, which flowed from a heart in love with and devoted to Him, the first and chiefest of Christian virtues. Paul knew this as he wrote the first epistle to the church at Corinth and stated that in the Christian’s heart abided faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity. Of all the gifts which our Lord bestows upon individuals for His church, each will give place to the actions which flow from a heart devoted to Him. A man might be lean in understanding and spiritual gifts as were Joseph’s lean cows while another is fat in understanding and with great gifts, but the lean will eat the fat every time. It is not our great gifts, abilities, or head knowledge that will be commended by our Lord, but the actions that flow from a heart devoted to the nth degree to Him. Jesus, Paul, and the disciples, in time, made love the measure of all excellence. It is this which not only stirs the true church to greater actions, but also the old harlot church for when Judas saw in her that which He did not possess, he went unto the chief priests to see what they would give him to deliver Jesus into their hands. If he could not hold the money which would have been collected by the sell of Mary’s ointment, he would at least get part of it back by betraying Jesus. This type devotion that moved Mary is the kind that some believers, the world, and the whore church despise. Even the disciples had indignation against her and one such as Judas could never understand why such great waste. A heart devoted to Christ condemns all who half-hearted go about their service and devotion to our Lord. Whether they be religious or not, those who are devoted to Him are despised because of the condemnation it brings to them and their works. Both think that one ought to find the middle of the road and there stay. After all, one has self to think of and their lives in this world and God being so loving and forgiving, expects us to give self to find our own lives here below. “Don’t let your heart get the better of your head nor ever allow principles to interfere with your own interest,” is the language of most. A model person is one who never forgets self so as to fall into great wickedness, nor ever rise above self such as to obtain this heart’s devotion.
The disciples were model Christians to this kind of philosophy for they were thinking men who remembered that Christ had taught them to be concerned about the poor always. It was His very words that ate up any devotion that they had for Him and all could be considered luke-warm at this time. It is essential that knowledge be in you and you follow the Lord’s commands, but actions are always greater than learning and doing good works spring from love. Jesus said that she was the one who had done the noble work and the disciples, who had far greater learning in the school of Christ, were the ones who gripped and condemned her. She did not know that her Lord was soon to die but due to her heart’s love she did that which was right at the time. You can see where learning will get you if it is not accompanied by a heart in love with Christ; the disciples all forsake Him and fled while she followed Him all the way to the cross. The coldness of the disciple’s hearts consumed their love for Him even though they had heard on several occasions that He must die for they were taken up with their own world and personal ambitions. It would not be beneficial to them for Him to go to the cross, after all, He was the One who was to deliver them from bondage and the afflictions that they suffered while in this world. Their concern was their greatness when He did set up His kingdom. Who would be the greatest and have the most authority in this newly formed kingdom. Where would they sit in respect to Him and how great would be their reign? Their hearts were so full of self that it consumed all that He had taught them concerning His mission. Love must be the mainspring and motive which drives one to Christ’s service lest all that is done in His Name is consumed at the judgment.
2. Her love and devotion to Christ gave her liberty to act freely.
Prov. 29:25 The fear of man bringeth a snare…” To often men are tied to actions because of their concern of what others might have to say and are not free to act because of the opinions they feel others might have if they behave in a certain way. The Scribes and Pharisees were tied to methods and forms and never adhered to the law of God in its strictest and spiritual sense because they wanted the praise or at least not the condemnation of fellow man. At this point in their lives, the disciples were also tied to a method and form and were strict adherers to that which they had heard from the lips of their Lord. They served Him but only as a slave would serve his master. Because of slavish fear, many people never do anything for they are afraid of doing something wrong. 1 Jn. 4:18. There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear…” This kind of love makes one free from fear and from the bondage of tradition. A Christian is not one who does something because this is the way it has been done, but because this is the way the Lord directs. Mary was free in her thinking and conduct because she cared not what others thought of her deed. Many are committed to good works but their service is in a mechanical and slavish fear and not because they love the Lord Jesus. For them to do anything, they must be told by their pastor or a Christian worker. Love destroys selfishness, shyness, and one following a routine. Love destroys unfaithfulness and a concern for the world’s or a brother’s approval. It just follows the Lamb wheresoever He leadeth.
I sometimes wonder what it would be like to serve the Lord in the midst of a people who loved Him with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength. Surely, it could be compared to what David said of the precious ointment that ran from Aaron’s beard down to his skirts. What else will heaven be like except a people who serve the Lamb day and night with an undivided heart?
3. Christ referred to Mary’s work as, “a good work.” She has done all she could do and that from her heart and this brought the praise of Christ along with the statement that where ever, “this gospel is spoken of, it will be told as a memorial unto her.” Had not the disciples come to this conclusion they would never have spoken of it in the Gospels. Jesus did not say that this was a useful or beneficial work but a good work. He was not looking at any immediate results or did not measure it as right or wrong for had this been the criterion, her work would have been excluded from the sacred pages of Scripture. If ever you would do anything for Christ, look not to see what results might be accomplished for in most cases you would leave off those good works. See if it comes from a heart fully devoted and in love with Him. We have no way in which to gage that which we do for the Lord other than; did He command it and am I doing it because I love Him. Isaiah, without looking for results, go and preach to the people, telling them that which I tell you. Philip, leave the large city and go to the desert to preach to one man. “But someone would think that I am odd,” so what? In Gal. 5:22 Paul list the fruits of the Spirit and closes this with, “against such there is no law.” Just go and do because you love Him and surely, you will hear in that day, “well done my good and faithful servant.” Had Jesus followed the opinions of the professing church or even His disciples, He would have left off that great and noble work…the CROSS.
May the Lord of glory be pleased to bring the writer and reader into such love as this dear lady had for our Lord.