“She has done a beautiful thing to me.” (Mark 14:6)
Their names are not even mentioned, and yet the Lord bestowed the highest praise on three women who demonstrated courage in difficult circumstances. Their ordinary lives are not memorials for us to simply admire, but to emulate, compelling us to love the Lord more deeply and trust him more completely right where we are today.
We meet one woman as she entered Simon’s house in Bethany “with an alabaster flask of very expensive ointment, and she poured it on his head as he reclined at table” (Matthew 26:7). Some of the disciples berated her for wasting that precious commodity, but Jesus defended her, applauding her for the sacrifice. While the religious leaders were circulating like vultures waiting to pounce on Christ, and with Judas moments away from delivering up his friend for crucifixion, this one woman annointed the Savior without even realizing she was preparing his body for burial. Her extravagance ministered deeply to Christ, and her story still inspires countless others to minister in “beautiful” ways to the Lord.
Earlier in the gospel, another brave woman bearing the weight of a dreadful blood disorder reached out to Christ in the middle of a great crowd. “She had heard the reports about Jesus” (Mark 5:27) and believed them. After years where physicians pocketed all her money with failed treatments, she recognized Jesus as the answer. In spite of the odds stacked against her she knew Jesus would make all the difference in her life. She reached out her hand for his garment “and immediately the flow of blood dried up, and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease” (Mark 5:29). Jesus called this woman “daughter” and applauded her for her faith. She inspires us to trust Christ for our impossible situations, to reach out to him no matter how desperate our circumstances may appear.
The poor widow who gave “all she had to live on” (Mark 12:44) also received the highest commendation from Christ. She dropped “two small copper coins” into the offering box in the temple, and Jesus “watched” her do it. He noticed her, this one with no significant role in society, with no means of supporting herself, with hardly anything to offer. He saw her, and he loved what he saw. Humility. Generosity. Surrender. Perhaps in heaven somewhere there is a record kept of how much treasure has been given to the kingdom of God by those compelled to follow this one widow’s sacrifice.
Three women far removed from our world propel us to make a difference right where we are, for the sake of our Lord who has made all the difference in the world.
Elizabeth A. Mitchell