Preface: The Bible expresses what should be obvious: we are sinners in need of grace. That grace has been offered to us in Christ Jesus.

Were it not for the grace of God, we should all be dead. The Bible declares that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23, NKJV) and that “the wages of sin is death” (6:23, NKJV). But thank God for Jesus. Rather than condemning us, He searches our hearts and leads us to repentance and victorious life.

In appreciation for this grace, Mary walked into a dinner to which she was not invited, broke the alabaster container of oil, and anointed Jesus’ feet.

“The Heart Searcher read the motive that led to Mary’s action. . . . Mary had been looked upon as a great sinner, but Christ knew the circumstances that had shaped her life. He might have extinguished every spark of hope in her soul, but He did not. . . . She knew how offensive is sin to His unsullied purity, and in His strength she had overcome.

“When to human eyes her case appeared hopeless, Christ saw in Mary capabilities for good. He saw the better traits of her character. The plan of redemption has invested humanity with great possibilities, and in Mary these possibilities were realized. Through His grace she became a partaker of divine nature. The one who had fallen, and whose mind had been a habitation of demons, was brought very near to the Saviour in fellowship and ministry.”*

Mary was the first to talk with Jesus after His resurrection and the first to proclaim the message of the risen Savior. God expects that we appropriate His forgiveness and declare Him Lord of our lives. He does not see us for who we are, but for who we can become by His grace. He gives us second (in my case, more) chances that we may fully appreciate His grace and lovingly carry out His commission to preach the gospel to the whole world. When we truly fellowship with Jesus, we will become ministers of His grace.

1. How does knowing that Christ searches and knows your heart affect how you live?
2. What difference does it make to look at those who lead sinful lives through the eyes of Christ?
3. Why was Jesus able to see in Mary capabilities for good when others could not? How can we learn to discern more readily the good in those whom we consider to be “hopeless cases”?
* Ellen G. White, The Desire of Ages, pp. 567, 568.