The woman stood in the shadows, waiting for the right moment. The cool evening breeze brushed the shawl away from her face, and she stepped back behind the wall to pull it close again. Her sister rushed past her with a basket of warm bread to set at the table of guests. But Mary waited and listened intently to every word of this Man who had rescued her from hopelessness, and her brother from death.
Mary thought of Jesus’ words in the last few weeks–words that made her heart tremble at the thought of losing Him. But she had wanted to be ready, so she had spent nearly her entire savings to buy the best for that day. But now…she heard so much talk everywhere she went. Everyone loved Him! They talked of crowning Him king! Mary could not hold back any longer. She wanted to be the first to honor her King. Memories of all Jesus had done for her, all He had taught her, all He had blessed…she couldn’t wait a moment longer. Now was the right time.
And so she slipped from the shadows into the flickering candle-light unnoticed, just as she had hoped. Tears were coming fast now, though she tried to hold them back. Carefully, she crushed the tiny box just above Jesus’ head, and its precious contents were released, dripping through his hair. Jesus looked up at her in surprise and smiled. Mary sank to His feet and wept, and let the rest of the contents spill over his feet, mixing with her tears. Pulling her long hair across her shoulder, she soaked up the perfume, her tears, and the dirt from Jesus’ feet.
“How could she do that? What a waste! She could have fed an entire village of poor people with the money she spent on that!” Mary heard the whispers. Her heart sank, and she started to shrink away. Maybe this wasn’t the right moment. Maybe this wasn’t the right gift.
“Leave her alone,” she heard His kind, firm voice. “What she’s done is beautiful, and won’t be forgotten. You will always be able to take care of the poor. But I won’t always be with you. She did this in preparation for my burial.”
Only then did she dare to look up into His eyes, and saw them glistening with His own tears as He smiled at her. That was all she needed to know.
Mary got it. She demonstrated Jesus’ mission more than anyone else in the room in that moment. He taught and lived extravagant love—love that was considered foolish and wasteful. Forgiving harlots. Healing nobodies. Calling tax collectors. Dying for rebels. All for that incomprehensible love His Father had called Him to live and die for in a fallen world.
When we enter the world of service, we are often overwhelmed with the need around us. We wish we could do more, do it better, fix it all. But that’s not what we’ve been called to do. We are called to love Jesus because He first loved us. How? By loving His children. You can’t do it all, but whatever you do, do it with His love. You won’t always have the perfect words, but whatever you say, say it with His love. You will fail often, but however you live, live out His love. This is the perfect gift at the perfect time in the eyes of Jesus, and He loves you deeply for it.
*Once or twice a month, we send out a short devotional to our volunteers. This was written by Andrea Keele, and sent on Oct. 5, 2015.