A Stand Worth Giving To
“For God so loved… He gave…” John 3:16
Whenever I consider the cross, I’m overwhelmed with gratitude that Jesus would consider my life a stand worth giving His life to redeem! And what He gave demonstrates my value to God. The more something is worth, the more you have to give for it. Think of what Jesus gave for you. He gave His life when He took His stand at Calvary to purchase your salvation. The Bible says “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 (NLT) Let that sink it for a minute and marinate your soul.
As you do, I believe your heart will be just as overwhelmed with gratitude as the women we read about in Mark’s Gospel. Jesus was having dinner in the home of a former leper named Simon when a woman came in and anointed Jesus’ head and feet with an expensive alabaster jar of perfume worth a year’s wage. Some of those at the table were indignant considering it an extravagant waste, and they scolded her harshly. But Jesus understood her heart and said, “Leave her alone. Why criticize her for doing such a good thing to me? …She has done what she could and has anointed my body for burial ahead of time. I tell you the truth, wherever the Good News is preached throughout the world, this woman’s deed will be remembered and discussed.” Mark 14:6a, 8-9 (NLT)
John later tells us that the woman was Mary in his account of the story in John 12. What could have moved Mary to give so much? For one thing, she loved Jesus. She and her sister, Martha, and her brother, Lazarus, had often been with Jesus and had him in their home. It’s interesting that the three times Mary is mentioned in the Gospel narratives she is always at the feet of Jesus. (Luke 10:38-42; John 11:31-32; 12:1-8). Her gift expressed her love for Jesus. To her, it could not possibly compare with what He had done for her. The chapter previous to this story tells of how Jesus raised her brother from the dead. What would you give if that were you?
Two things stand out to me about Mary’s gift:
- I believe Mary would have given more had she had it. But Jesus said, “She has done what she could. …” When I consider that I’m confronted with the questions: “Have I done what I can?” “Does my giving reflect my love and God’s worth to me?” “Would it be considered extravagant or average?” the fact is I cannot give what I don’t have, but I can give of what I do have.
- Then Jesus reveals a mystery about the gift. He says, “She has anointed my body for burial ahead of time. I tell you the truth, wherever the Good News is preached throughout the world, this woman’s deed will be remembered and discussed.” How could she have known what even the disciples didn’t know? Because she had sat at Jesus’ feet and listened to Him speak, she knew what He was going to do. She knew He was about to endure suffering and death. It’s interesting that this Mary was not one of the women who went to the tomb to anoint the body of Jesus. In a sense, Mary was showing her devotion to Jesus before it was too late. She was “giving the roses” while He was yet alive and not bringing them to the funeral! Reminds me of a quote I once heard that stuck with me. It went like this:
“Do your giving while you’re living so you’ll have the joy of knowing where it’s going.”
Now contrast this with Judas. We know from the Gospels that he was among the critics who were indignant about such an extravagant gift. Mary’s gift left a legacy of faith. Not so with Judas! His very name is listed in the dictionary as a synonym for treachery. One commentator noted that Mary and Judas are seen in contrast in Proverbs 10:7 that says, “The memory of the just is blessed, but the name of the wicked shall rot.” “A good name is better than precious ointment” says Ecclesiastes 7:1; and Mary had both. What kind of legacy will our gifts leave?