We are in the last week of Jesus’ earthly life here, and we see the opposition mounting, and see the wheels in motion which will result in His arrest and crucifixion. (See 14:1-2; 10-11.) It is against that black fabric of hostility and treachery that Mark sets for us a diamond; a beacon of light that shines brighter because of the darkness surrounding it: Mark gives us an account of
- absolute devotion in the face of opposition
- utter adoration in the face of rejection
- supreme love in the face of bitter hatred.
Mark has inserted this account here almost as a parenthesis, to heighten the contrast with the conspiracy beginning to close in on Him. As G. Campbell Morgan wrote, “There Jesus was, in a dark and desolate land; and lo! out of the heart of a woman, a spring of fresh water sprung for the thirsty Christ! He valued it.”
It would fulfilled all the demands of Middle Eastern hospitality for the woman to bring her alabaster vial and sprinkle a few drops on Jesus— but her heart was so full of adoration, her focus was so totally on Jesus, that she GAVE IT ALL: she broke the bottle, and POURED IT ALL OUT. She understood intuitively that “no sacrifice is too great, if made for Him.” She held nothing back; she gave it all.
You know why Mary’s act of total commitment and love meant so much to Jesus? BECAUSE IT WAS SO CHRISTLIKE— IT WAS SYMBOLIC OF WHAT HE HIMSELF WAS ABOUT TO DO: to hold nothing back, to give Himself completely for the sins of the world, to allow Himself to be “broken and spilled out,” as the Gaither song says, in an act of total selflessness.
“Worship comes from a heart that has been blessed by God, and says so in its own way.” This woman is a true hero of the faith, with her heart brimming and overflowing with grateful devotion to her Lord.”There are many mausoleums that crumble to decay. But this monument to Jesus fills the whole world still with its fragrance” (S. Lewis Johnson). We are fulfilling Jesus’ words in verse 9 even as consider this story right now.
May God help us to learn from this remarkable woman more of what it means to offer our worship, poured out lavishly and without measure from a full heart.