It is good to pay tribute to a brave soldier who died many years ago. She fought a good fight and endured many hardships, including criticism from family and friends. Yet Jesus Himself established a memorial in her honor. “Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her” (Matt. 26:13). In her own quiet way, she was a strong force for good.
Her name was Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus. Before Jesus’ death, she anointed Him with very expensive ointment. Judas Iscariot said this was a waste because the ointment could have been sold for a good amount and the money could have been given to the poor. Soon the other disciples followed the lead of a thief and joined in the criticism. The Bible says that these men “criticized her sharply” (Mark 14:5). The hypocritical traitor who had the least reason to object spoke against her, and the men who should have supported her criticized her.
Mary was a giver. She gave freely something that in those days cost a lot of money. Her gift was a pure act of giving. She didn’t anoint Jesus with this ointment for attention. She did it because of her faith and her love for Him.
Mary did no wrong. What she did with the ointment was her business. She had not sinned in buying it or having it. She could have kept it, given it away, or used it as she did without any wrongdoing. It was a judgment call. But a man who betrayed the Lord for thirty pieces of silver complained that she was being wasteful. The pot screamed that the kettle was black.
Mary did good. “She has done what she could” (Mark 14:8). She did her best with what she had. For this she was criticized by Jesus’ well-trained apostles. Are you surprised when even Christians criticize you for doing good? Don’t be. There is nothing good you can do without being criticized for it. The Jews unmercifully criticized Jesus (Matt. 11:16-19). Some in the church at Corinth criticized Paul over petty things like his physical appearance and his speaking style (II Cor. 10:10). Sadly, for whatever reason—envy, ignorance, or meanness—a good deed will draw negative remarks.
Mary acted alone. The majority in the room were against her. She stood by herself in what she did without asking their permission or worrying about what they would think. Her act of kindness was between her and the Lord. Why didn’t they think of doing something like this to honor Jesus? But in spite of their negative words, Mary didn’t argue with them. The Lord defended her. In the end, the apostles except for Judas realized they were the ones who were out of line. To do a good deed you often have to go against the flow.
We remember the many great things the apostles did. Their service will always be remembered with respect and appreciation. But sometimes we fail to pay attention to the small things that are big in God’s eyes. Nations set up memorials to their heroes, but the kind deed of Mary goes down in history as an international memorial for all times.