Wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world what this woman has done will also be spoken in memory of her. (Matthew 26:13)
What an astonishing statement! What this woman had done would always accompany the message of this gospel. It was not just any gospel that Yahshua, the Messiah, wanted preached throughout the entire world, but this gospel that resulted in the response of this woman. This woman’s response expressed true faith, what it really means to believe in Him, therefore, the story of what she did would accompany the true gospel as an example of true salvation. Yahshua knew that eventually other gospels1 would appear that could not save anyone.
But who preaches this very same gospel today? How many who call themselves believers can say that their response to the good news was the same as this woman’s response? If they cannot, then why is this gospel not being preached to the whole world, as Messiah prophesied that it would be? What is the problem?
When Yahshua said, “this gospel,” He was emphasizing something very important and essential. He connected the act she did — lavishing her most precious possession on Him — as the typical or normal response to His gospel. What Mary did would express the very essence or heart of the right response to the true gospel.2 Any gospel that produced less than her wholehearted response simply was not the gospel Yahshua had proclaimed.
Pouring out that precious, rare ointment was Mary’s first expression of pouring out her entire life in loyal service to Yahshua. Not one drop was left in the alabaster flask. She held back nothing in reserve. Her act of doing “all she could”3 communicated her earnest desire to serve Him all her days. She gave all she had to love Him, showing by her honor and devotion that she recognized Him for who He was.
It is recorded in three of the gospels that this response is what this gospel would stimulate in any who truly believed in Him, which is foundational to their salvation just as it was in Mary’s own life. “She did what she could,”4 He proclaimed, meaning she could not do more or less than what she did! Her act of lavishing her most precious possession on Yahshua, heedless of the scorn of those who watched contemptuously, signaled that she would live the rest of her life that way, holding nothing in reserve for herself. She completely surrendered her life. She gave all she had to give. “Wherever this gospel is preached” it would bring about the same effect in all who are actually saved from eternal death.5
Anyone who does less than “all he could” has not been saved by this gospel, that is, Yahshua’s gospel. “Salvation is a free gift,” so many say, but the story of this woman reveals who He gives the free gift to. Salvation is freely given, without reserve, but only to those who have no reserve in their response to obey the gospel.6 They relinquish everything to Him out of a willing heart, giving up what they could keep. They see no value in holding onto anything. They freely and willingly give all.
The word reserve means to hold back or to hold onto.7 All who hold their life or possessions in reserve, betraying their resistance to Yahshua’s words and His complete claim on their life, will also fail to experience salvation. Since they reserve or hold something back from Him, He reserves and holds back what He can give, too.8 He withholds salvation and does not give the Holy Spirit to those who do not obey Him.9
But whoever received Yahshua’s gospel was sustained economically, spiritually, physically, mentally, and emotionally by Messiah’s life in the community among “all who believed.”10 Such care was the only way His people could fulfill Messiah’s words about not taking thought for themselves, what they would wear or eat.11 It takes a community. When all who believed became one,12 they lived together and all their needs were met.13 That is the eternal principle and pattern of the Body of Messiah.14 It was and is central to the nature of the church, which is the Body of Messiah, who is the same yesterday, today, and forever.15
To have such a community takes the spiritual authority of those who have the heart to be examples, such as Mary and the Apostles were.16 Apostles plant the seeds of new life through the gospel so that it can spread on the earth. They not only preach the gospel, but they also give their own lives, for the ones they evangelize are very dear to them.17 So, they not only plant it, but they live this common, demanding, yet abundant life of love.
This is why the Holy Spirit took pains, through Luke, to record in Acts 2 and 4 the spiritual essence of this life. It serves as a way to identify who is preaching this gospel that Messiah spoke of that day when Mary poured out the very costly oil. He preached and taught this gospel to all His apostles. The community life of all believers in Acts 2 and 4 was the direct result of everything essential and central to the gospel message.
Just as Mary of Bethany surrendered everything to Yahshua, so all who obey this gospel will do today. They will pour out their lives daily in devotion and honor to the One who saved them. Just as Mary expressed her love by anointing the physical body of Yahshua that day, so we must “waste”18 our most precious possessions on His Body on earth today. Loving one another is the only way of knowing we have passed out of death into life.19 That love is the essence of what obedience to the gospel demonstrates. Love is the true “sign of the gospel” for all the world to see, and community is the result of that love.
So, any who wish to receive salvation and the forgiveness of their sins must understand why Yahshua forever connected this gospel with what this woman did. He brought definition to the gospel and taught us how to identify what faith is by what Mary of Bethany did for Him. He said that what she did would accompany His gospel everywhere. In other words, the gospel will produce the same results in all who believe and desire to follow Messiah as it did in Mary. All they have and are will be surrendered to Him.
This is the profound significance of what Mary of Bethany did, which is recorded in three of the gospels: Matthew 26, Mark 14, and John 12. Her story tells us what is central to this gospel wherever it is preached in the world. Hers was the overwhelming response of faith in her heart, acknowledging Him for who she knew Him to be — the Savior of the world, the Messiah, the Son of God.20 Her love and gratitude compelled her to act as she did, doing all she could for Him. Who can justify doing anything less?