One Year Bible Reading Plan and Devotional
Today’s Bible Reading: March 16
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Giving the best you have to Jesus
Giving as an Act of Worship
Between the accounts of the plan to arrest Jesus, Mark contrasts the betrayal and treachery of Judas and the religious leaders with the love and devotion of Mary demonstrated in a moment of giving Jesus the best that she had to offer. In doing so, it was an act of worship.
While Mark does not disclose the name of the woman who anointed Jesus with a very expensive oil, in John 12:2-3, John tells us the woman’s name is Mary of Bethany. She is the sister of Martha and Lazarus (John 11:1-2). She is mentioned three times in the Gospels and each time we encounter her, she is at the feet of Jesus (Luke 10:38-42, John 11:31-32, John 12:1-8).
Here in Mark’s Gospel, we find that she breaks open an alabaster flask and pours the oil inside it over Jesus’ head. Everything about this flask of oil is expensive. An alabaster flask was a long-necked perfume vase that was considered a luxury item. The oil inside was made of pure nard that came from the root of a plant that grew chiefly in India. In verse 5 of Mark 14, we learn that this bottle of oil could have been sold for 300 denarii, which equaled about a year’s wages. Most likely, for Mary, this alabaster flask was her most costly, valuable, and prized possession. So when she broke it and poured it over Jesus, she was giving the best she had. If you were giving your best to Jesus, what would it be?
How witnesses reacted to Mary giving the best she had
Mary didn’t just break open any bottle of oil to anoint Jesus. She broke the best of what she had – her most expensive possession. Some of the people that witnessed her heartfelt act of worship grumbled and complain about the waste. Perhaps it was out of personal guilt because they were not willing to give out of their best. Maybe it was out of jealousy that Mary had such a valuable possession and they felt she had wasted it. They understood she was giving the best she had, but they didn’t understand why such an act was her way of worshiping Jesus.
But Jesus commended Mary. In verse 6, Jesus replied to their grumbling and said, “Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me.” Then in verses 8-9, He told them, “She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial. And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.” And today we still read of her act of worship in the Bible.
Jesus always knows when we are giving the best of what we have and He also knows the motivation for it. Mary wasn’t seeking approval from the people, but rather she was worshipping her Savior. She was giving the best she had from a heart of worship, adoration, praise, and thanksgiving.
A poor woman who gave the best
Mary’s act was similar to the poor woman at the temple who gave two mites in the temple offering. The widow’s offering had very little value, but she was still giving the best she had. In fact, Jesus says that she gave all she had.
Mary’s offering was very expensive, the poor woman’s was worth very little. Yet, Jesus commended both equally, because both women gave the best of what they had to offer and they were giving the best out of their love for God and a heart of worship. What we offer to Jesus isn’t about the value of the item, but whether if it is the best of what we have to give Him and our motivation behind why we are giving it to Him.
A redeemed woman who gave the best
Over in Luke’s gospel, chapter 7, Luke tells about a woman who washed Jesus’ feet with her tears and dries them with her hair. She too was giving the best of what she had — a heart of love for the One who redeemed her. When Simon, a Pharisee, complained, Jesus told a parable:
There was a certain creditor who had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing with which to repay, he freely forgave them both. Tell Me, therefore, which of them will love him more?”
Simon answered and said, “I suppose the one whom he forgave more.”
And He said to him, “You have rightly judged.” Then He turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house and you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has washed My feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head. You gave Me no kiss, but this woman has not ceased to kiss My feet since the time I came in. You did not anoint My head with oil, but this woman has anointed My feet with fragrant oil. Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.”See the full story in Luke 7:36-50
Being willing to give the best to Jesus
The more we realize the depth of our sin and the price Jesus paid, the more willing we are to give to Him from our best. When you are called to give, do you give of your best? Do you grumble or complain about the “waste” when others give something that is very costly? When you give of your time, talent, and money do you give just enough to feel like you met a requirement – or do you give your best – or even your all like the poor widow?
God, thank you for the many blessing you bestow on us every day. Thank you for your grace and forgiveness. Lord, when we give, may our hearts be full of gratitude and love for You out of thanksgiving for the price you paid for our sin and may we give our very best.
#ReadYourBible #Deuteronomy #Mark #MaryofBethany #alabasteroil #anointingJesus
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