What Will Be Your Memorial?

What Will Be Your Memorial?

Memorial Day was established as a day to remember those who died for their country. They gave their life for us. Therefore, we remember their sacrifice and honor them. We also use the day to remember our loved ones and give thanks for their impact on our lives.

Do you ever wonder, what will people remember about you?

In Mark 14, we find a special memorial moment. It involves a woman. We learn from John 12 that she was Mary, the sister of Lazarus and Martha.

Mark 14:3-9 And while he was at Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he was reclining at table, a woman came with an alabaster flask of ointment of pure nard, very costly, and she broke the flask and poured it over his head. There were some who said to themselves indignantly, “Why was the ointment wasted like that? For this ointment could have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.” And they scolded her. But Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me. For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you want, you can do good for them. But you will not always have me. She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for burial. And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.”

Though the disciples underestimated and under-appreciated Mary’s act, Jesus was moved by her adoration. So heartened was our Lord by her act that He says, “wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.”

What was so memorable about this act? Why would Jesus proclaim it as special and worth remembering? Jesus saw something the disciples did not see. He saw her motive and He knew "She has done what she could".

Sometimes we have a very limited conception of what really constitutes serving the Lord. We often think it means being a preacher, a Sunday school teacher, an elder, a deacon, a missionary, etc; but does serving the Lord only consist of these?
No! We are all saved to serve the Lord.

Ephesians 2:10 For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Spiritually, we cannot measure our life by success, but only by what God pours through us to bless others. And we cannot measure that at all.

When Mary of Bethany broke the box of precious ointment and poured it on Jesus’ head, it was an act for which no one else saw any significance. The disciples said it was a waste. But Jesus commended Mary for her extravagant act of devotion. Our Lord is filled with joy when He sees any of us doing what Mary did, not being concerned with the cost, but spilling out our treasure totally to Him.

Our Father was so extravagant in His love for us He spilled the blood of His Son so the world might be saved. Do we love Him enough to spill out our lives for Him?

This act of Mary’s teaches us that anything done or directed towards Jesus, under the impulse of simple love to Him, is serving Him.

Colossians 3:23 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,

All things are sanctified when they are done for Him. Do anything, because you love Jesus, and it will be lifted up, and become transfigured into “a good work.”

1 Corinthians 10:31 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. (Simple stuff; a command—do we think about obeying it?)

Colossians 3:17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

All our Lord expects is that we do what lies in our power. This is the meaning of our Lord’s word in verse 8, "She has done what she could".

Quit looking to see what everyone else is doing and just start doing what you can do. Your best is good enough no matter how much it is. God is not going to judge your service by what others have done, but He will judge your service as to whether you have done all you could do.

Remember the parable Jesus told about the three servants who were given different amounts of money to invest for their master? The master commended two servants for doing what they could, with what they were given, to earn a return for the master. But the master cast out the servant who was too fearful to do anything with what he was given.


It does not take a whole lot for God to be satisfied with our service but it does take our best. God does not want what we CANNOT DO but what we CAN DO. The widow with 2 pennies gave all she had to God. Jesus said she gave more than the rest. She did what she could.

The question is not how much we have done, but could we have done more? How can you do more, you wonder? We can’t do all that we can if we are working in the power of our flesh instead of in the power of the Holy Spirit.

It takes the Holy Spirit to make us what Jesus Christ wants us to be. Under the leadership of the Holy Spirit, even simple things become powerful and important. If we do not exhibit the fruit of the Holy Spirit while doing menial things (i.e. cleaning) for the love of Jesus, we are not doing all we can.

It is time to stop craving for personal satisfaction and grumbling about serving. It is time to spill the life of Christ out of our souls to the benefit of others and the glory of Christ.

Therefore, doing what you can will involve a sacrifice. Mary’s ointment was a gift of great sacrifice for her (kept perhaps for her wedding day). Our service for Christ is easily assessed by the sacrifices we are willing to make.

Doing what you can will bring criticism. Mary received criticism, not about the act itself, but the disciples felt the ointment should have been sold and the money given to the poor. There will always be someone who will question any true sacrifice we make for the Lord. However, what really matters about our life is what Jesus thinks and not what others think! If we please Jesus it does not matter who we displease. Conversely, if we displease Jesus, it does not matter who we please!

Our motive is what Jesus judges. What was Mary’s motive? Did she do it to be seen of others, to gain the Lord’s praise? No, she did it simply out of love for Him.

John 15:13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.

If human love is always discreet and calculating, never carried beyond itself, it is not true love. The characteristic of love is that it is spontaneous, it bursts up in extraordinary ways. It is never premeditated. (We love ourselves) The reason Jesus called Mary’s act “a good work” was because it came out of spontaneous love to Himself. It was neither useful nor her duty. It was an extravagant act for which no one else saw any significance.

But Jesus said, “Leave her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a beautiful thing to me.

Then He said, “She has anointed my body beforehand for burial.” Prior to the act, Mary did not know that she was anointing the body of Jesus for His burial. That was not her motive. Her heart was bursting with love for Jesus, and she took this opportunity to express it. Love is preference for another person, and if I am a follower of Jesus, that preference is for Him. If we love Jesus, the cost of following Him doesn’t matter.

Let me illustrate this truth with a story: After being away on business, a man thought it would be nice to bring his wife a gift to express his love for her. "How about some perfume?" he asked the cosmetics clerk. She showed him a bottle costing $50. "That’s a bit much," He said. So the clerk presented him with a smaller bottle for $30.00. "That’s still quite a bit," He complained. Growing annoyed, the clerk brought out a tiny $15.00 bottle. "What I mean," he replied, "is I’d like to see something really cheap." So, the clerk handed him a mirror.

Now brothers, I am not saying that you should buy your wife expensive gifts when you can’t afford them, for that will not show her love and it will make her feel financially insecure. I’m also not telling you to buy her a Browning automatic shotgun unless it is something she really wants—not something you want!

My point is this: When we give to the Lord and do things for Him, do we try to serve in the least costly way like this man? Contrast that with what Mary did.

What Mary did reveals a heart that is filled, moved, and driven with nothing but a love for her Master, Jesus Christ.

You see, love is not just a feeling. It is an action. For example, Mary’s act was expressive. Without hesitation or reservation she expressed her love for Jesus.

Mary’s act was exclusive. She was solely and completely occupied with Jesus. Who or what we focus on reveals the desire of our hearts. Mary was totally focused on Jesus and she desired to please Him. She didn’t care what others thought.

Mary’s act was extravagant. It was an extravagant and foolish act in the eyes of those who watched; however, love does extravagant things for another person.

Therefore, Jesus declared Mary’s act a Memorial of Christian Service. Our Lord affirmed that Mary’s simple loving act, done for Jesus’ sake, would never be forgotten. Heaven and earth would pass away, but the record of what Mary had done, the pleasure it brought to the Lord, and the blessing that it would bring to millions of others, would never pass away.

He said, “And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.”

Why did Jesus declare that?

Because in the sacrifice Mary made, our Lord saw an illustration of what He Himself was about to do. Out of love, Mary poured out everything she had for Jesus. Likewise, out of love, Jesus poured out His life to save the world.

Do we love Jesus enough to willingly to pour out our lives for Him?

This memorial tells us that every act done out of love for the Lord Jesus abides forever. Mary of Bethany probably never guessed that she would be remembered for an act initially criticized as wasteful and inappropriate.

Mary was and is remembered for what she did for Christ! As I consider this text, I have to ask myself: How will I be remembered? How will you be remembered?

We will either be remembered for the good we’ve done for the Lord or the bad we have done serving ourselves. Some will not be remembered at all because they did nothing at all!

Mary did what she could. Could the Lord say this about me or you?

Yes, tomorrow is Memorial Day for those who gave all in service to others. However, today can become a memorial day for you—the day you give everything, your life, to Jesus Christ and become a follower of Him.

If you believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God who atoned for your sin on the cross, then confess that faith publicly. Repent of your sin and give your life to Jesus by following Him in baptism. Then you will be born again of the Holy Spirit, who will lead you into complete devotion and service for the Lord.