A Brief Meditation for the Month

February 2022

In the Gospel of Mark, we have the narrative of an unnamed woman whose action, on a particular occasion, resulted in severe criticism by some who observed it. According to their judgment, the woman had acted irresponsibly and wastefully. She had just broken open a container of precious ointment and poured it on the head of Jesus, an action which made no sense to the beholders. Yet the Saviour, who understood the motive behind the action, commended her, saying, “She hath done what she could,” Mark 14:8. Jesus stated that wherever the gospel would be preached throughout the world, what this very ordinary woman did would be memorialised. We have no reason to suspect she sought attention or publicity. However, for centuries since, millions of Bibles and New Testaments have spread the record of her simple action all around the world. Thousands of sermons have been preached about what she did. Multitudes of hearts throughout Christendom have been deeply affected after considering the details of her action.

What this woman did, and for which she was commended, are recorded in both the earthly gospel account and in the heavenly record, awaiting the day when the books shall be opened, and everyone’s work will be judged according to that preserved record, Revelation 20:12–13. This woman’s simple display of love and devotion to her Saviour was the best she could do under the circumstances in which she found herself. While an increasing number of her compatriots were hostile to Jesus, this woman was not ashamed to openly declare her heart’s attachment to him. She would not be able to prevent his death; she did not endeavour to instigate a campaign to have him acknowledged as the King of the Jews; nevertheless, by her actions which spoke louder than her words, she let her Saviour, and those around her, know where she stood in relation to him. While her voice was silent, her action did the speaking.

Since Jesus said her action would not be forgotten throughout the church in the future, he intended that it would be so. He purposed that his followers in every generation should not only read about this woman but that they should be instructed and learn from what she did. The story of this woman’s deed should therefore motivate and inspire all of us, no matter how limited our resources, and despite our circumstances or any difficulties we might encounter, to do what we can in the service of the Saviour. Just as this dear woman did not merely perform a duty, but rather a loving service to her Redeemer, so ought every child of God, who is indebted to him for their soul’s salvation, desire and seek every opportunity to do something in his service. The question for us should be, Can I do better? Can I do more? Does my Saviour’s love for me deserve more and better from me? Sometimes we may be tempted to think that God acknowledges service that attracts public attention, creates a sensation, and makes people marvel, but that he does not have the same degree of interest in the simple, unheralded day-to-day service of ordinary believers. Jesus himself, however, taught that even a cup of cold water given to a child as the dutiful service of one of his disciples would not go unrecognised, Matthew 10:40–42. Likewise, the Saviour taught that “He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much,” Luke 16:10. Our diligence, reliability, consistency, and faithfulness in the small matters of Christian living, testify to genuine loving service rendered to the One who knows all that is in our hearts—what motivates our every word and deed. Let us, therefore, pray more, give more, do more, serve better.

G. G. Hutton.