Enduring Criticism in Women’s Ministry
Many Biblical events include the use of oils, but few are more memorable than Mary’s anointing of Jesus in Bethany as told in Mark 14:3-9. Why were her actions so meaningful to Jesus, and what does her story tell us about women’s ministry?
Just days before His crucifixion, Jesus was having supper with some of His followers when Mary burst in and poured a flask of fragrant oil over Jesus’ head. The other guests scolded her wastefulness as the smell of a year’s worth of wages dripping to the floor filled the room. But Jesus rebuked them, and said her deed would be remembered forever, wherever the gospel is told.
Why was Mary’s gift so meaningful to Jesus, and what does her story tell those of us who are running a women’s ministry? Let’s go through the story together and find out.
A Woman’s Ministry of Love
And while he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he was reclining at table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over his head.
(Mark 14:3 ESV)
This story starts out rather strangely, doesn’t it? Why on earth would Mary dump expensive perfume over Jesus’ head, anyway?
In ancient times, nard was an oil used in precious perfume typically used by nobility. Both the type and amount of oil, especially as stored in an alabaster flask, suggest that this may have been a family heirloom or dowry.
Nard was also used for medicinal purposes and as a skin tonic. Both the lingering smell and its medicinal effects would be helpful for Jesus during His torture and crucifixion.
In an act of unselfish love, Mary lavishly poured out her most precious possession to both honor and minister to her Savior.
How can you show honor and love to Jesus in your ministry today?
Enduring Criticism in Women’s Ministry
There were some who said to themselves indignantly, “Why was the ointment wasted like that? For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.” And they scolded her.
(Mark 14:4-5 ESV)
Poor Mary! Her extravagant ministry of love was criticized as waste! I picture her speechless, kneeling at Jesus’ side, hiding her glazed eyes, awaiting His response. Can you imagine the humiliation and self-doubt?
I’ll bet you can.
As women in ministry, isn’t Mary’s experience ours, too?
“Is this really worth so much time and money?”
“Another dead end…”
“You worked so hard and hardly anyone came. What a waste!”
Comments like these are hard on our ears and even harder on our hearts. If you’re there today, please know that you’re not alone.
How did you endure your most recent season of criticism and doubt?
Eternal Rewards of Women’s Ministry
But Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. But you will not always have me. She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial. And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.”
She did what she could. Seems like a back-handed compliment, doesn’t it? But this was in the context of His upcoming burial. Mary couldn’t stop Jesus’ crucifixion any more than we can stop the surrounding chaos. She probably didn’t comprehend Jesus’ response, but we know that her act of love sent Him along with as much honor and comfort as she could give.
Isn’t that why we’re all here—to send people off better than when we met them?
Mary’s story teaches us to trust that God is bigger than any judgement of man—including our own. Just like Mary, He will use our acts of love for His glory.
Sisters, when your efforts appear wasteful, I pray you will take a tip from Mary, and humbly remain at Jesus’ side.
How can you take your doubts and insecurities to Jesus today?
Read The Partner Post
Click on the reply link to learn more about oils in the Bible.
Valerie is a wife, mother, blogger, breast cancer survivor, and virtual assistant. After suffering years of debilitating anxiety, she learned that victory over anxiety comes only through surrender to Jesus. Valerie writes to point women to the Jesus as co-director of Candidly Christian, and as a freelance writer and editor. You can learn more about Valerie at ValerieRiese.com
He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it (1 Thessalonians 5:24).
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