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Chapter 14: The Goal of the Gospel

For our final chapter we will take as our starting-point an incident in the Gospels that occurs under the very shadow of the Cross—an incident that, in its details, is at once historic and prophetic.

“And while he was in Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at meat, there came a woman having an alabaster cruse of ointment of spikenard very costly; and she brake the cruse, and poured it over his head... Jesus said... Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever the gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, that also which this woman hath done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her” (Mark 14:3, 6, 9).

Thus the Lord ordained that the story of Mary anointing Him with that costly ointment should always accompany the story of the Gospel; that what Mary has done should always be coupled with what the Lord has done. That is His own statement. What does He intend that we should understand by it?

I think we all know the story of Mary’s action well. From the details given in John chapter 12, where the incident follows not long after her brother’s restoration to life, we may gather that the family was not a specially wealthy one. The sisters had to work in the house themselves, for we are told that at this feast “Martha also served” (John 12:2 and compare Luke 10:40).1818The author here takes the fairly common view that the “house of Simon the leper” was the home of Mary, Martha and Lazarus, Simon presumably also being a relative of the two sisters.—Ed. No doubt every penny mattered to them. Yet one of those sisters, Mary, having among her treasures an alabaster cruse containing ‘three hundred pence’ worth of ointment, expended the whole thing on the Lord. Human reasoning said this was really too much; it was giving the Lord more than His due. That is why Judas took the lead, and the other disciples supported him, in voicing a general complaint that Mary’s action was a wasteful one.


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