Sabbath, September 7, 2013
“Christ values acts of heartfelt courtesy. When anyone did Him a favor, with heavenly politeness He blessed the actor. He did not refuse the simplest flower plucked by the hand of a child, and offered to Him in love. He accepted the offerings of children, and blessed the givers, inscribing their names in the book of life. In the Scriptures, Mary’s anointing of Jesus is mentioned as distinguishing her from the other Marys. Acts of love and reverence for Jesus are an evidence of faith in Him as the Son of God. And the Holy Spirit mentions, as evidences of woman’s loyalty to Christ: ‘If she have washed the saints’ feet, if she have relieved the afflicted, if she have diligently followed every good work.’ 1 Timothy 5:10.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 564.
The Master invited by one who was healed
1. Who was Simon of Bethany? What did he prepare at his home in gratitude for Jesus’ healing of his leprosy?
Matthew 26:6 Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper,
Mark 14:3, first part And being in Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at meat,…
Luke 7:36 And one of the Pharisees desired him that he would eat with him. And he went into the Pharisee’s house, and sat down to meat.
“Simon of Bethany was accounted a disciple of Jesus. He was one of the few Pharisees who had openly joined Christ’s followers. He acknowledged Jesus as a teacher, and hoped that He might be the Messiah, but he had not accepted Him as a Saviour. His character was not transformed; his principles were unchanged….
“Simon had been healed of the leprosy, and it was this that had drawn him to Jesus. He desired to show his gratitude, and at Christ’s last visit to Bethany he made a feast for the Saviour and His disciples. This feast brought together many of the Jews. There was at this time much excitement at Jerusalem. Christ and His mission were attracting greater attention than ever before. Those who had come to the feast closely watched His movements, and some of them with unfriendly eyes.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 557.
The kind gesture of a guest
2. Who came into the room where Jesus was sitting? What special service did this woman perform for Jesus?
Matthew 26:7 There came unto him a woman having an alabaster box of very precious ointment, and poured it on his head, as he sat at meat.
Mark 14:3 And being in Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at meat, there came a woman having an alabaster box of ointment of spikenard very precious; and she brake the box, and poured it on his head.
“At the table the Saviour sat with Simon, whom He had cured of a loathsome disease, on one side, and Lazarus, whom He had raised from the dead, on the other. Martha served at the table, but Mary was earnestly listening to every word from the lips of Jesus. In His mercy, Jesus had pardoned her sins, He had called forth her beloved brother from the grave, and Mary’s heart was filled with gratitude. She had heard Jesus speak of His approaching death, and in her deep love and sorrow she had longed to show Him honor. At great personal sacrifice she had purchased an alabaster box of ‘ointment of spikenard, very costly,’ with which to anoint His body. But now many were declaring that He was about to be crowned king. Her grief was turned to joy, and she was eager to be first in honoring her Lord. Breaking her box of ointment, she poured its contents upon the head and feet of Jesus; then, as she knelt weeping, moistening them with her tears, she wiped His feet with her long, flowing hair.” –The Desire of Ages, pp. 558, 559.
Judging others’ motives and actions
3. Was this anointing of the Lord welcomed by all? What negative comments were made by some?
Mark 14:4, 5 And there were some that had indignation within themselves, and said, Why was this waste of the ointment made? For it might have been sold for more than three hundred pence, and have been given to the poor. And they murmured against her.
Matthew 26:8, 9 But when his disciples saw it, they had indignation, saying, To what purpose is this waste? For this ointment might have been sold for much, and given to the poor.
“She had sought to avoid observation, and her movements might have passed unnoticed, but the ointment filled the room with its fragrance, and published her act to all present. Judas looked upon this act with great displeasure. Instead of waiting to hear what Christ would say of the matter, he began to whisper his complaints to those near him, throwing reproach upon Christ for suffering such waste. Craftily he made suggestions that would be likely to cause disaffection….
“Now the act of Mary was in such Marked contrast to his selfishness that he was put to shame; and according to his custom, he sought to assign a worthy motive for his objection to her gift…. Judas had no heart for the poor. Had Mary’s ointment been sold, and the proceeds fallen into his possession, the poor would have received no benefit.
“Judas had a high opinion of his own executive ability…. He had gained their confidence, and had a strong influence over them. His professed sympathy for the poor deceived them, and his artful insinuation caused them to look distrustfully upon Mary’s devotion. The murmur passed round the table, ‘To what purpose is this waste?…’ ” –The Desire of Ages, pp. 559, 560.
4. Can we say that negativity and criticism were problems only at that time and in that case? What does God’s holy word teach concerning thinking and speaking evil? 1 Corinthians 13:4, 5.
1 Corinthians 13:4, 5 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil.
Philippians 4:8 Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatso-ever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.
“Floating rumors are often the destroyers of unity among brethren. There are some who watch with open mind and ears to catch flying scandal. They gather up little incidents which may be trifling in themselves, but which are repeated and exaggerated until a man is made an offender for a word…. These talebearers are doing Satan’s work with surprising fidelity, little knowing how offensive their course is to God…. The door of the mind should be closed against ‘They say,’ or ‘I have heard.’ Why should we not, instead of allowing jealousy or evil surmising to come into our hearts, go to our brethren, and after frankly but kindly setting before them the things we have heard detrimental to their character and influence, pray with and for them?….
“Let us diligently cultivate the pure principles of the gospel of Christ–the religion, not of self-esteem, but of love, meekness, and lowliness of heart. Then we shall love our brethren, and esteem them better than ourselves. Our minds will not dwell on scandal and flying reports.” –Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, pp. 504, 505.
5. What effect did this criticism have on Mary? What did Jesus say, giving a completely different character to her actions?
Matthew 26:10 When Jesus understood it, he said unto them, Why trouble ye the woman? for she hath wrought a good work upon me.
Mark 14:6 And Jesus said, Let her alone; why trouble ye her? she hath wrought a good work on me.
“Mary heard the words of criticism. Her heart trembled within her. She feared that her sister would reproach her for extravagance. The Master, too, might think her improvident. Without apology or excuse she was about to shrink away, when the voice of her Lord was heard, ‘Let her alone; why trouble ye her?’ He saw that she was embarrassed and distressed. He knew that in this act of service she had expressed her gratitude for the forgiveness of her sins, and He brought relief to her mind. Lifting His voice above the murmur of criticism, He said, ‘She hath wrought a good work on Me. For ye have the poor with you always, and whensoever ye will ye may do them good: but Me ye have not always. She hath done what she could: she is come aforehand to anoint My body to the burying.’ ” –The Desire of Ages, p. 560.
Understanding good works and proclaiming good news
6. What did Jesus say to help everyone understand and appreciate the motive of Mary’s actions? Were very many people doing such good things for Him?
Matthew 26:11, 12 For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always. For in that she hath poured this ointment on my body, she did it for my burial.
Mark 14:7, 8 For ye have the poor with you always, and whensoever ye will ye may do them good: but me ye have not always. She hath done what she could: she is come aforehand to anoint my body to the burying.
“What a sharp lesson Christ might have given him who had dropped the seed of criticism and evil thinking into the minds of the disciples!… The hollow pretense on which the traitor based his words might have been laid bare; for, instead of sympathizing with the poor, he was robbing them of the money intended for their relief….
“The fragrant gift which Mary had thought to lavish upon the dead body of the Saviour she poured upon His living form. At the burial its sweetness could only have pervaded the tomb; now it gladdened His heart with the assurance of her faith and love. Joseph of Arimathaea and Nicodemus offered not their gift of love to Jesus in His life. With bitter tears they brought their costly spices for His cold, unconscious form. The women who bore spices to the tomb found their errand in vain, for He had risen. But Mary, pouring out her love upon the Saviour while He was conscious of her devotion, was anointing Him for the burial. And as He went down into the darkness of His great trial, He carried with Him the memory of that deed, an earnest of the love that would be His from His redeemed ones forever.” –The Desire of Ages, pp. 563, 560.
7. According to Jesus’ words, what would be the fruit of this woman’s sincere act of appreciation? Keeping this story in mind, how careful will we be not to judge others’ actions or spread gossip?
Matthew 26:13 Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her.
Mark 14:9 Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, this also that she hath done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her.
“ ‘Verily I say unto you,’ Christ declared, ‘Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, this also that she hath done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her.’ Looking into the future, the Saviour spoke with certainty concerning His gospel. It was to be preached throughout the world. And as far as the gospel extended, Mary’s gift would shed its fragrance, and hearts would be blessed through her unstudied act. Kingdoms would rise and fall; the names of monarchs and conquerors would be forgotten; but this woman’s deed would be immortalized upon the pages of sacred history. Until time should be no more, that broken alabaster box would tell the story of the abundant love of God for a fallen race.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 563.
“Christ delighted in the earnest desire of Mary to do the will of her Lord. He accepted the wealth of pure affection which His disciples did not, would not, understand. The desire that Mary had to do this service for her Lord was of more value to Christ than all the precious ointment in the world, because it expressed her appreciation of the world’s Redeemer. It was the love of Christ that constrained her. The matchless excellence of the character of Christ filled her soul. That ointment was a symbol of the heart of the giver. It was the outward demonstration of a love fed by heavenly streams until it overflowed.” –The Desire of Ages, p. 564.