The Youth’s Instructor


July 12, 1900

Mary's Offering


“Then Jesus six days before the Passover came to Bethany, where Lazarus was which had been dead, whom he raised from the dead. There they made him a supper; and Martha served; but Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with him. Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odor of the ointment.” YI July 12, 1900, par. 1

The feast at Simon's house brought together many of the Jews; for they knew that Christ was there. They came not only to see Jesus, but many were curious to see one who had been raised from the dead. They thought that Lazarus would have some wonderful experience to relate, and were surprised that he told them nothing. But Lazarus had nothing to tell. The pen of Inspiration has given light upon this subject: “The dead know not anything .... Their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished.” Lazarus had a wonderful testimony to bear, however, in regard to the work of Christ. He had been raised from the dead for this purpose. He was a living testimony to the divine power. With assurance and power he declared that Jesus was the Son of God. YI July 12, 1900, par. 2

Overwhelming evidence had been given to the Jewish leaders in regard to the divinity of Christ, but they had closed their hearts that no light might be admitted. The testimony of Lazarus was so clear and convincing that the priests could not resist it by argument. They could not deny it; for he who had been dead four days stood before them in the vigor of manhood, showing forth the praise of the great Restorer. They feared the effect of this miracle upon the people, “because that by reason of him, many of the Jews went away, and believe on Jesus.” If Lazarus continued to bear his testimony, the number of Christ's followers would be greatly increased. They purposed to remove Lazarus secretly, and thus less publicity would be given to the death of Christ. They could bring no charge against Lazarus; but rather than admit evidence that could not denied, they plotted to kill him. The end, they argued, would justify the means. This men will always do when they separate themselves from God. Unbelief takes possession of the mind; the heart is hardened, and no power can soften it. YI July 12, 1900, par. 3

At the feast the Saviour sat at the table with Simon, whom he had cured of a loathsome disease, on one side, and Lazarus, whom he had raised from the dead, on the other. Martha served at the table, but Mary was listening earnestly to every word that fell from the lips of Jesus. In his mercy Christ had pardoned Mary's sins, which had been many and grievous. Lazarus, her beloved brother, had been called from the grave, and restored to his family, by the power of the Saviour; and Mary's heart was filled with gratitude. She longed to do him honor. At great personal sacrifice she had purchased an alabaster box of precious ointment, with which to anoint the body of Jesus at his death. Now, taking the box in her hands, she quietly broke it, and poured the contents upon the head and feet of her Master. YI July 12, 1900, par. 4

Her movements might have passed unnoticed had not the ointment made its presence known by its rich fragrance, and published her act to all present. “When his disciples saw it, they had indignation, saying, To what purpose is this waste?” Judas was the first to make this suggestion, and others were ready to echo his words. Led by him, the disciples continued, “This ointment might have been sold for much, and given to the poor.” YI July 12, 1900, par. 5

These words were the expression of a narrow mind. Judas wished to withhold this expensive favor from Christ, under pretense of helping the poor. He begrudged Christ the gift that he proposed to give to the poor. The world can judge of our knowledge and love of Jesus by the outward expression, the external testimony. Had the all-pervading love of Christ filled the hearts of the disciples, it would have been expressed in action. They would have shown that they recognized his supremacy, and knew him to be worthy the highest homage. But those who should have been first in these offices of love, were last; and Mary, who was considered the least, was first. YI July 12, 1900, par. 6

Jesus saw Mary shrink away abashed, expecting to hear reproof from the One she loved and worshiped. But instead of this she heard words of commendation. “Why trouble ye the woman?” Christ said, “for she hath wrought a good work upon me. For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always. For in that she hath poured this ointment on my body, she did it for my burial. Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her.” Her act is a prophetic anticipation of my death, and the record of it shall be repeated to the ends of the earth. YI July 12, 1900, par. 7

The look that Jesus cast upon the selfish Judas convinced him that the Master had penetrated his hypocrisy, and read his base, contemptible character. This was a more direct reproof than Judas had before received. He was provoked by it, and thus a door was opened through which Satan entered to control his thoughts. Instead of repenting, he planned revenge. Stung by the knowledge of his sin, and provoked to madness because his guilt was known, he rose from the table, and went to the palace of the high priest, where he found the council assembled. He was imbued with the spirit of Satan, and acted like one bereft of reason. The reward promised for the betrayal of his Master was thirty pieces of silver; and for a far less sum than the box of ointment cost he sold the Saviour. YI July 12, 1900, par. 8

In spirit and practice many resemble Judas. As long as there is silence in regard to the plague-spot in their character, no open enmity is seen; but when they are reproved, bitterness fills their hearts. YI July 12, 1900, par. 9

What a terrible action was this, both on the part of Judas and of the high priest! The rulers of Israel had been given the privilege of receiving their Saviour; but they refused the precious gift offered them in the tenderest spirit of constraining love. They refused the salvation that is of more value than gold, and bought their Lord for thirty pieces of silver! YI July 12, 1900, par. 10

The incident is full of instruction. The world's Redeemer was nearing the time when he was to give his life for a sinful world, yet how little even his disciples realized what was before them! Mary could not reason upon this subject; but by the Holy Spirit's power she saw in Jesus one who had come to seek and to save the souls that were ready to perish, and she was filled with a pure, holy love for him. The sentiment of her heart was, “What shall I render unto the Lord for all his benefits toward me?” The ointment, costly as it was, expressed but poorly Mary's love for the Saviour. YI July 12, 1900, par. 11

Christ delighted in Mary's earnest desire to do the will of her Lord. He accepted the wealth of pure affection that his disciples would not understand. The desire that Mary had to do this service was of more value to Christ than all the precious ointment in the world, because it expressed her appreciation of her Redeemer. It was the love of Christ that constrained her. The matchless excellency of the character of Christ filled her mind and heart, and the ointment was a symbol of the overflowing love of the giver. It was the outward demonstration of a love fed by heavenly springs until it overflowed. YI July 12, 1900, par. 12

Mrs. E. G. White