She Did What She Could

At face value it is hard to grasp the custom, but in Jesus’ day it was common for olive oil to be poured on the heads of guests as a symbol of honor and a rite of refreshment. The oil was soothing to dry, parched skin. In Mark 14:3–9 Jesus was at a dinner party with friends and a woman entered the room carrying a jar filled not even with common oil but with expensive perfume. She broke the jar and drenched Jesus with it. Her action was as extravagant as the contents of the jar.

The onlookers, perhaps concerned to look good before the rabbi were quick to scold the woman. They saw her excessive offering as a waste of valuable resources. Jesus stopped their attack, and then he said these words: “She has done what she could.”

Think about those words. “She did what she could.”

A doctor says “I did what I could” when a patient dies.

A parent says “I did what I could” when a child goes astray.

I say “I did what I could” when I need an excuse for not doing my best.

“I did what I could” is a phrase of resignation when I am not able to do what needs to be done, when I can only do a portion of an assignment. I say those words when I cannot do enough.

When Jesus uttered that phrase it was not to criticize the woman for not doing enough. To the contrary, she did exactly what she needed to do.

The Spirit of God was orchestrating every event of the week that led to the death and resurrection of Jesus. The Spirit motivated this woman to serve Jesus in an extravagant manner. Jesus saw it as anointing him for burial, pointing to his imminent crucifixion. That’s why the memory of her act is associated with the proclamation of the gospel.

When you put all you can do in the hands of the Lord, he can make it more than enough.

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