Summary: Do all you can with all you have.
I enjoy smelling things…well, most things. When Beth and I end up in a store that has perfume and cologne testers, I like to try out the different aromas. When our girls were younger I’d often spray the back of their necks with the grossest smell I could find and then run before they could spray me back. Nice dad, right?
About a year ago when I was sniffing the scents, I came across some cologne that stopped me in my tracks. I sprayed some on the back of my hand and held it up to Beth’s nose to let her know I liked it. I then sprayed it on my other hand because I liked it so much and gave her another whiff. I reminded her that Christmas was coming and made sure to show her what the packaging looked like and that the name was “Energized.” I didn’t even look at the price.
When Christmas came my extravagant expectations were realized. I used this cologne for an entire year, being careful to make it last as long as I could. It’s now gone so I no longer feel energized.
I didn’t realize how expensive it was to be energized until I looked it up recently. Now I know why I didn’t get another bottle this year!
Perfume can be pricey. The most expensive is called Golden Delicious and sold for $1 million! Another one called Imperial Majesty lists for almost $500,000. Perfume costs a lot for two reasons.
• The ingredients are hard to find and difficult to extract. One of the most expensive ingredients is a secretion produced in the digestive system of certain types of whales. Another is a fragrant resin that is emitted as a defense mechanism to starve mold infection on the most expensive wood in the world. Think about this the next time you spray some scent on your body.
• The container or packaging can cause the price to skyrocket. The bottle that holds Golden Delicious contains 2,909 precious stones, including diamonds and rubies. It took a total of 1,500 hours to hand-place each stone to form the skyline of New York City.
In Mark 14 we’ll meet a woman who demonstrated her commitment to Christ by breaking an expensive container and pouring an extravagant amount of ointment on Jesus.
But first let’s get our bearings as we return again to our verse-by-verse study of Mark’s record of the life of Jesus. We’ve been learning that Jesus is both Servant and Savior. Mark 10:45 serves as the theme verse: “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” In the first part of the book we’ve seen Jesus as Servant and in the final chapters we’re moving quickly to the cross where we will see Him as Savior.
Verses 1-2 provide the setting: “It was now two days before the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. And the chief priests and the scribes were seeking how to arrest him by stealth and kill him, for they said, ‘Not during the feast, lest there be an uproar from the people.’” Jerusalem was filled with people celebrating Passover, which memorializes how God spared Israel while striking Egypt’s firstborn sons. The Feast of Unleavened Bread recalls Israel’s exodus from Egypt. In the midst of the religious celebration, the religious leaders are scheming how to arrest Jesus without causing a commotion among the people.
Listen now to Mark 14:3-9: “And while he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he was reclining at table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over his head. There were some who said to themselves indignantly, ‘Why was the ointment wasted like that? For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.’ And they scolded her. But Jesus said, ‘Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. But you will not always have me. 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.’”
We’ll use this outline to follow the natural flow of the text:
1. Commitment demonstrated (3)
2. Criticism delivered (4-5)
3. Commendation described (6-9)
Verse 8 provides the main point of the passage: “She has done what she could…” We could say it like this: Do all you can with all you have.