At the LCMS Lenten service this week, the pastor spoke about Mark 14:1-9. That is the story of the woman who anointed Jesus with nard. Some saw that as a waste. It could have been sold for three hundred denarii—-three hundred days of wages—-and that could have been given to the poor. But Jesus honors her act of devotion to him.
The pastor talked about how, in the same way that this woman gave so much to Jesus, so Jesus gave so much for us. But he cautioned that we should not treat this good news as a club, guilting people into giving their all for Jesus because he gave his all for them. What was beautiful about the woman’s act was that it was freely given. John 11:2 and 12:3 identifies this woman as Mary of Bethany. She was the sister of Lazarus, whom Jesus raised from the dead, and she sat at Jesus’s feet listening to his teaching in Luke 10:38-42. She not only recognized Jesus’s value but was also grateful that Jesus gave her back her brother, and that probably contributed to her act of devotion.
The pastor told a story about a school in Africa to which he and his wife donate money. The head of this school, whom I will call “W,” grew up in Africa and was an orphan, but he happened to meet a Westerner who paid for his education. “W” completed his education and decided to start a school in the place in Africa where he grew up.