SHE HATH DONE WHAT SHE COULD
Intro: "A Christian businessman was traveling in Korea.
In a field by the side of the road was a young man
pulling a rude plow while an old man held the handles.
The businessman was amused and took a snapshot of
"'I suppose these people are very poor,' he said to
the missionary who was interpreter and guide to the
"'Yes,' was the quiet reply, 'those two men happen to
be Christians. When their church was being built, they
were eager to give something toward it, but they had no
money. So they decided to sell their one and only ox
and give the proceeds to the church. This spring they
are pulling the plow themselves.'
"The businessman was silent for some moments.
Then he said, 'That must have been a real sacrifice.'
"'They did not call it that,' said the missionary. 'They
thought themselves fortunate that they had an ox to
"When that businessman reached home, he took the
picture to his pastor and told him all about it. Then he
added, 'I want to double my giving to the church and do
some plow work. Up until now I have never given God
anything that involved real sacrifice.'"
Our text this evening is about that kind of sacrifice.
It's about the kind of sacrifice that is supposed to mark
the life of every single believer. It is the kind of sacrifice
talked about by men like Paul in Romans 12:1, "I
beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of
God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice,
holy, acceptable unto God, which is your
Ill. The Context. Jesus is on His way to Calvary. As
He goes, a woman expresses the depths of her love
and devotion to Him by a costly sacrifice. Her labor of
love is misunderstood by others, but it is commended
by the Lord Jesus. In fact, He tells those around Him
that she has done all she could do, and that her
sacrifice will be remembered and rehearsed forever. In
fact, I am fulfilling that prophecy this evening.
I want us to look at this passage for a few minutes
this evening, and as we do I want us to consider the
thought, She Hath Done What She Could. As we think
about the sacrifice she made for the Lord, we need to
ask ourselves the question: Have we? Have we done
what we could for Him? Have we given all there is to
give? Notice three areas where she did what she could.
As we do, search your heart and see if you have.
She hath done what she could:
I. V. 3-4 IN THE AREA OF SACRIFICE
A. She broke a box of ointment and poured it on the
head of Jesus. This ointment was valued at 300
pence. A pence was the daily wage of the
average worker. Therefore, in modern terms, it
was worth about $15,000.00. This spikenard
was produced from a rare plant that grew in
India. It was very expensive and many people
saved for years to be able to provide this for their
own funeral preparations. However, this woman,
whom we believe to be Mary, John 12, poured it
out on the head of the Lord Jesus.
B. Two ancient eastern customs are in here. The
first has to do with the breaking of glasses.
When a distinguished person ate in a home,
often the glass they had used was broken to
prevent a lesser person from using it in the
future. This may have been in Mary's mind as
she broken the box. Another custom had to do
with burial rituals. After the body of the
deceased had been washed and anointed, the
box that had contained the embalming spices
was broken and the fragments were buried with
the individual. Perhaps these were in Mary's
However, I like to imagine that she broke the
vessel so that she might extract every drop of
ointment for use on the Lord Jesus.
C. Regardless of the reason, one thing is clear:
Mary gave all she had to Jesus for His glory! I
wonder have we broken the alabaster box of our
life and poured out ourselves, every drop for
Him? This is the thought that occupied the mind
of Paul as he faced his own death, 2 Tim. 4:6!
D. We should look at our lives and ask ourselves if
we have given everything we have and are to
Him. You see, Mary's sacrifice was the ultimate
expression of her love and worship of the Lord
Jesus. She gave all she had! Have we placed
everything we are on the altar for Him? Think
about it seriously. What have you given to Him
and what have you help back for yourself or for
I. In The Area Of Sacrifice
II. V. 8 IN THE AREA OF SERVICE
A. Jesus' statement regarding the sacrifice of Mary
summed up the depth of her service to Him. He
simply said that she had done everything that
was in her power. The expression "what she
could" refers to all she possessed. There were
many things Mary could not do for Jesus, but in
anointing Him with that box of costly ointment,
she was giving Him all she had. Her service was
When the critics started wagging their
tongues, Jesus told them that what Mary had
done was respond to a once in a lifetime
opportunity to serve the Lord, v. 7.
B. When the opportunity presented itself, Mary took
advantage of it and experienced a once in a
C. The implication for us is clear this evening.
When the Spirit of God speaks to our hearts,
that is the time to step up and serve God. Too
often, we miss out on those special moments of
service to Jesus when we ignore the impulses
and leadership of the Holy Spirit. That is why the
Bible warns us to be careful lest we quench the
Spirit of God, 1 Thes 5:19.
(Ill. How many times have we ignored the
impulses of the Spirit of God and missed
opportunities to serve the Lord? Until we reach
the place where when He speaks we
immediately respond, we will never be doing all
we can do for Him. What the Lord is seeking is
those people who have surrendered everything
they have, everything they are and everything
they hope to be to the will of the Lord. He is
looking for people who will assume the place of
servants before Him. He is looking for those
who will merely respond when He speaks to
them. He is looking for those about whom He
can say, "They have done what they could."
I. The Area Of Sacrifice
II. The Area Of Service
III. V. 3, 8 IN THE AREA OF SURRENDER
A. In Christ's day, people did not sit at a table to eat
their meals. The tables they used were low to
the floor, and the people reclined around the
table at meal time. Typically, their heads were
near the table while their feet were farther away.
This would mean that anyone walking up to a
person in such a position would be considerably
taller than the person at the table. It is,
therefore, assumed that Mary would have
assumed a kneeling position near Jesus, in order
to anoint His head with the ointment.
In this one moment of time, Mary was making
a great statement of surrender. By kneeling to
Him and anointing Him, she was declaring her
faith in Him as the Messiah. She was telling
everyone who saw her do what she did that her
faith was in the Lord Jesus Christ. She, at that
moment, surrendered all to Him!
B. Her act of love and worship also made a big
statement concerning Who she believed Jesus
to be. You see, there were four classes of
people who were anointed those day: Kings (2
Kings 9:3), Priests (Ex. 29:7), Prophets (1
Kings 19:16) and the dead (John 19:39-40;
Luke 23:56; Mark 16:1). I believe that by her
selfless act, Mary was acknowledging Jesus to
be all of those things to her heart.
Certainly, Jesus is all of those things. He is
the King of Kings, Rev. 19:16. He is the Great
High Priest, Heb. 3:1. He is the Prophet, Matt.
13:31. He was dead, but is alive forevermore,
Rev. 1:18. This is what Mary believed about
Jesus and she demonstrated her surrender to
Him as all those things by her act of love and
C. Mary was more in touch with Who Jesus was
and is than were His own disciples. She
believed that He was about to die. They did not!
Apparently she knew that His body would not
available to anoint after death, so she did it
ahead of time. No doubt her faith enabled her to
see beyond the cross and the tomb to a day
when Jesus would rise from the dead and
occupy the throne of glory in Heaven. She was
absolutely surrendered to the Lord Jesus Christ.
D. What about you? Are you surrendered to the
same level as Mary? Does the life you live show
you kneeling before Him as absolute Lord and
God? When Mary arrived at that place, truly she
had done all that she could do. When we get
there, we can go no farther with Jesus. At that
point He will everything and we will be nothing.
We will find ourselves lost in His glory. Are you
there yet, or are there pieces of your life that
remain unsurrendered? Just as Mary broke the
box of ointment so that every drop mind be
extracted, let us break our lives on His altar so
that He might extract the very last drop of glory
from us. That is the price of surrender!
(Ill. There is a story from the Middle East of four
brothers who decided to have a feast. As wine
was rather expensive, they concluded that each
should bring an equal quantity and add it to the
common supply. However, one of the brothers,
thinking to escape the expense of such a
contribution decided to bring water instead of
wine. "It won't be noticed," he reasoned.
But at the feast when the wine was poured out
it wasn't wine at all. It was only water. Each of
the four brothers had thought alike, "Let the
others do it. Water is less expensive."
And you thought the aversion to serving others
was a 20th century North American disease! No,
anywhere you go in the world, you'll find that
everybody loves a servant but nobody wants to
Conc: She hath done what she could! I wonder if
Jesus would be able to say the same thing about my
life? Would He be able to say it about yours?
Ill. William and Mary Tanner were crossing a railroad
track some years ago when Mary's foot slipped and
became wedged between the rail and a wooden
crosswalk. Frantically she tried to get loose as a train
approached around the curve. Her husband
desperately attempted to free her. As the express
came closer with its brakes screeching, Mary realized
it couldn't stop in time. "Leave me, Bill! Leave me!"
she cried. Seeing his efforts were useless, he arose
quickly and held her in his arms to protect her as much
as possible. While bystanders shuddered in horror,
the train thundered over them. It was reported that just
before the engine hit them, they heard the brave man
cry, "I'll stay with you, Mary!"
Although this man was unable to save his wife, his
devotion never faltered, and in this sense it is a graphic
picture of level of sacrifice Jesus expects from us. She
hath done what she could. Have we?