“Truly I say to you, wherever the gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be spoken of in memory of her!” Mark 14:9
It is often said that there are different “seasons” in one’s life, one of which is funerals! It is a time when there seems to be a stream of deaths of childhood acquaintances, family members, longtime friends, neighbors, etc. We seem to be in one of those seasons. I can’t speak for everyone, but for me, I think about standing before my Lord someday and longing to hear His words, “Well done, good and faithful servant…” Matthew 25:23a That brings to my mind that Jesus highly commended Mary of Bethany for her service more than He did any of His earthly disciples, and it causes me to ask questions. What was it that she did, and how did she go about doing it that caught the attention and admiration of the Lord? I believe I see three distinct characteristics of a ministry that pleases the Lord!
1-It is always costly! Mary broke a vial of very costly perfume and poured it on the head of Jesus (v 3). The value of the perfume was over three hundred denarii (v 5). One denarius was equivalent to one day’s wage, so this perfume was worth a year’s wages. Add to this the fact that Mary’s sister, Martha was serving in the kitchen (John 12:2). Wealthy people of the day did not serve in the kitchen, so this family was among the poor, which adds to the value of the perfume. Mary’s gift was costly, and that is true of all ministry. The cost may be in money, or time, or effort, but it is always there.
2-It is often criticized! Some said it was a waste (v 4). Others scolded her (v 5). The Cross of Jesus Christ offends those who refuse to accept Him as the Lord who hung on it, and sometimes even those who believe on Christ can be misled by arguments that sound reasonable and right. However, what initially sounds socially and culturally right doesn’t always turn out to be right!
3-It has One concern! Jesus said, “She has done a good deed to Me!” (v 6). On the morning of the resurrection of Jesus Christ a group of women came with ointments, spices and bandages to anoint the body of Jesus for burial, but they were denied that privilege, because the Lord was no longer in the grave. He had risen! The only woman who had the privilege and honor of anointing the body of Jesus for burial was Mary of Bethany, and it was because she came ‘beforehand’! The blessings of ministry are reserved…for those who minister ‘beforehand’, before it is convenient, or affordable, or acceptable, etc. etc. etc.
Each one must answer the question, “Will I be the one to minister/serve beforehand?”