“And the twelve were with Him, and certain women who had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities— Mary called Magdalene, out of whom had come seven demons, and Joanna … and Susanna, and many others who provided for Him from their substance” (Luke 8:1–3).

Darlene Rose, a missionary to New Guinea during World War II, was captured by the Japanese and held in a horrific prison work camp for four years. Although the officer in charge showed extreme cruelty toward her, she tried to empathize with his difficult job and told him she was praying for him. As she continued to show kindness and share the gospel with him, little by little God changed his heart. Eventually, he began bringing her extra food and making sure she had all she needed. He was grateful to her because she had done all she could to rescue him from his miserable existence by pointing him to Christ; now he was doing what he could to repay her.

Likewise, Mary Magdalene felt tremendous gratitude toward Jesus. Rescued from a life of misery, she became His devoted follower. Along with other women who had been healed, she travelled with Jesus and His disciples and helped to care for them and support them. But she longed to do something extra special for Jesus, something that symbolized the extreme gratitude she felt toward her Lord for forgiving her and for bringing her dear brother back to life.

Her chance came at the dinner hosted by Simon the ex-leper. Mary had heard Jesus talk about His impending death. So, she had taken her savings and bought a container of oil of spikenard. This was no small gift, as it cost the equivalent of a year’s wages. The Bible tells us that Jesus was sitting at the table when Mary brought her “alabaster flask of very costly oil of spikenard. Then she broke the flask and poured it on His head” (Mark 14:3).

The sweet aroma filled the air, and some people, realizing what had just happened, criticized Mary’s gift. But Jesus spoke in her defence. Her sacrifice deeply touched and encouraged Him for the terrible ordeal just ahead.

Dear Jesus, my heart is filled with gratitude for what You have done, and are doing, in my life.

Further Study: Matthew 26:6–13; Luke 7:36–50; Hebrews 13:15

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