Matthew's account says - "She did it for My burial" (26:12). Undoubtedly, Mary's generous actions were motivated by gratitude for past blessings received from Jesus. However, it seems likely that she was also motivated to do this out of sympathy and love for Him in view of His expected sufferings.
Some doubt that she was mindful of His approaching death since even the apostles were ignorant of it (though they should not have been; cf. Luke 18:31-34). If her intention was not to prepare Him for His approaching death, then, at the very least, Jesus' words here must mean that her actions were appropriate for such and should not have been rebuked. After all, if Jesus had been dead at that moment, no one would have hesitated to anoint His body as Mary had.
"She has done what she could" (Mark 14:8). This statement also seems to give validity to the possibility that Mary's actions were motivated by more than just thankfulness. If Mary believed that Jesus was about to perish as He had often predicted, she was willing to do everything in her power to lessen this tragedy that she could not stop. Mary couldn't do much, but she did shower Jesus with this costly token of her undying love and appreciation. Dear listeners, will Jesus speak these blessed words about you someday? Have we done what we could for the Lord? Although we may not be able to do much, may we never fail to do what we can!
"For the poor you have with you always, but Me you do not have always" (John 12:8; cf. Deut. 15:11). There would be countless other opportunities to do good to the poor (cf. Mark 14:7), but this was a unique situation; Jesus wouldn't be with them in the flesh much longer.
Jesus declared in Mark 14:9 - "Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her." This story of Mary's love has been read and told to millions. It continues to live on as a wonderful encouragement to all those with good and honest hearts who have made noble offerings to the Lord, only to be criticized by others for so doing. It is ironic that Mary's actions, which were rebuked by men, became a wonderful memorial to her; often God values different things than men do.
Also, had Mary sold the spikenard and given the money to the poor, she would have done a good work for a few. But, in her act of love, she unintentionally created a monument to herself as eternal as the word of God. Consequently, she has benefited thousands who have learned from her example.
"Now a great many of the Jews knew that He was there; and they came, not for Jesus' sake only, but that they might also see Lazarus, whom He had raised from the dead. But the chief priests plotted to put Lazarus to death also, because on account of him many of the Jews went away and believed in Jesus" (John 12:9-11).
Many of the Jews came to Simon's house to see Jesus and Lazarus (whom Jesus had raised from the dead). The people were motivated primarily by curiosity, for they came to see and not necessarily to hear and learn. They reacted in the same way that many do today; that is, they were interested in the unusual, the extraordinary, and those who are able to accomplish such.
Although the initial motive of many (who went to see Jesus and Lazarus) may have been curiosity, the facts and evidence (specifically regarding Lazarus' death and resurrection) were too strong to ignore. They may have came as observers, but many of the Jews "went away" (i.e., defected) from the religious leaders and "believed in Jesus." This intensified the hatred of the religious leaders toward Jesus. Also, since Lazarus was a major cause of this defection, they planned to kill him too, for as long as Lazarus was alive he would be a living witness to the power of Jesus.
How sad it is that these religious leaders had grown so hard-hearted that they would plot evil rather than believe, and they would rather murder than serve justice!