She Did What She Could*

The prophesied end is near. The ragtag group around Jesus can now smell it in the air. In recent days—even while Jesus taught profound truth—His followers sensed that the horrors He warned about would soon happen.

The mood at dinner in Bethany had been subdued, but the atmosphere was suddenly disturbed by the entrance of a woman. Whispered conversations abruptly end when Mary enters the room, not as a servant but in the starring role. This sister of Martha had always been the more contemplative sibling, preferring to stay in the background, but now she takes center stage, breaking open an alabaster vial, pouring its priceless contents on the One she adores.

You know the story. Jesus’ followers, influenced by increasingly angry Judas, are outraged. Some of those present were saying indignantly, “Why this waste of money?” In the middle of Jesus’ defense of Mary we read, She did what she could.

Mary couldn’t stop Judas’ betrayal or the venomous accusations of religious authorities or the cruelty of a Roman court. She simply “did what she could.” Spoken by one offering something to God, these words can be uttered with a whine: “Don’t expect too much of me.” “I’m not valuable enough to do anything important.” “Don’t you see I’m busy?” Or with a firm, quiet voice of total commitment in spite of others’ indignation or misunderstanding: “I’m holding nothing back, it’s all for you, Jesus.”

Mary didn’t know all the terrors of the coming days. Perhaps she was one of those women standing near the cross, maybe she ran the two miles back to Bethany to weep in private. But her story is heard even today as Jesus promised: wherever the Good News is preached throughout the world, this woman’s deed will be remembered and discussed (Mark 14:9

I wonder what would happen if I consistently, quietly and without fanfare did what I could? No excuses. No whining. In place of self-interest, total commitment. “I’m holding nothing back, it’s all for you, Jesus.”


*Mark 14:8

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