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My Notes on Mary of Bethany

Last week the ladies at our church had a study on Mary of Bethany that encouraged me and also inspired me.

You can read about Mary and her sister, Martha, in Luke 10:38-42, John 11:1-45, John 12:1-8 and Mark 14:1-9.

We talked about three things that Mary did in the three recorded encounters she had with Jesus. She sat at His feet, fell at His feet and knelt at His feet. By sitting at Jesus’ feet, Mary was still. She heard His words and His teachings. She showed reverence and humility by sitting right there on the floor with full attention on Him. Mrs. Nancy pointed out that Mary didn’t just sit back and let her sister do all the work, which is what I looked at every time I’ve read Luke 10:39.

And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word.” (emphasis added)

Mary wasn’t lazy. She was diligent to do her work first, then sit at the Lord’s feet and listen to what He had to say. She had her priorities straight, unlike her sister who was worried about the preparations for the dinner they were having. By realizing that time spent with Jesus was best and by placing Him first, she came to know Him in a very personal way.

But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:42)

Through that passage, I was reminded that time spent with Jesus is never a waste, it is never a chore, and it will always be rewarded.

John 11:28-33 is where we spent most of our time talking about how Mary fell at Jesus’ feet. The Bible says that as soon as she heard that Jesus was calling, Mary arose quickly and went to Him. For me, it was very easy to imagine Mary in this situation because during that particular week, two deaths had taken place just a few days prior to our study and one a few weeks earlier. I could see Mary clinging to Jesus for comfort and peace while she grieved over her brother’s death. I could hear the desperation in her voice when she said:

“Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” (John 11:32)

But I also saw faith. She believed that Jesus was the Messiah and that He was the Son of God. She showed her faith and love for Jesus later in John 12 and Mark 14 when she used that expensive perfume. By just falling, she demonstrated her helplessness, her reverence, and her humility. By falling at Jesus’ feet, Mary reminded me that Jesus is the best person to go to with my sadness and with my grief. He ought to be my first resort instead of my last. I need to run to Him immediately, especially when He calls me.

In John 12, we find Mary, Martha, and Lazarus with Jesus at Simon the leper’s house. Mary, out of pure adoration and love for Jesus, opened a pound of spikenard that she had been saving and anointed Jesus’ feet. This oil was very costly. According to Judas Iscariot it was worth over three hundred denarii, a year’s wages! Mary’s act of worship was a sacrifice, it was selfless, it was her very best, and it was thought through. She knew Jesus was going to die because she was there sitting at His feet and listening to Him earlier.

 But Jesus said, “Let her alone; she has kept this for the day of My burial. (John 12:7)

She didn’t worry about what the critics would say when she poured the oil on Jesus’ head as well as on His feet and wiped them with her hair. All she was thinking about was worshiping Jesus and that should be me too. Jesus stood up for Mary for breaking through the cultural barriers and He hushed the critics because He was pleased with what she did for Him. He saw her heart. He saw that her worship was genuine. Her love for Jesus was very public. The perfume filled the atmosphere, it saturated Jesus’ feet and His clothes as well as her hair. The smell would linger for days and remind them both as well as the disciples of Mary’s act of love. I started thinking about how my love for Jesus looks. How much do I value Him? Is He worth three hundred denarii or thirty pieces of silver? What spoke volumes to me was how Mary gave Jesus her very best and that she saved it just for Him. I can imagine her thinking to herself, “I’ve been saving this perfume. It’s time. This is my very best and I want Jesus to have it all.” I want my life to look like that. Don’t you?

 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.” (John 14:9)


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