Throughout the gospels we see three short stories of Mary of Bethany. Mary and her sister Martha were two women who were close to Jesus and whose love for Him was evident in their interaction with Christ. The Bible doesn’t say much about who Mary was, but in the few instances where she is mentioned, you can see a heart that is passionate to know Jesus. I see a heart that is driven by her love for Christ. Mary’s life is a challenge for me: Am I living a fully committed life to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ?
The first instance of Mary and her sister Martha, was when Martha invited Jesus in their home for a meal (Luke 10). Jesus had come to town from traveling and Martha graciously invited Him over to her home. This act of generosity led to a strong relationship between Jesus, Martha, Mary, and Lazarus. It was her inviting spirit that allowed her to serve the Creator of this Universe. The story doesn’t stop here. We later see Mary, who according to Martha should have been helping her prepare everything for their special Guest, sitting at Jesus’ feet. Mary was not worried of the affairs of the house. She was not worried about making everything perfect for Jesus. Instead, she realized that Jesus was no ordinary Man, and sat at His feet, soaking in every word that came out of His mouth. She sat at His feet and listened to His teaching. When she was called out by her sister for not helping, she sat quietly and let Jesus fight her battle. She trusted in His power and His presence and nothing was going to stand in the way of her getting to know Him. How many times do we get weighed down by the things of this world? How many times do we push God and His Word aside because we are too busy taking care of other things. Jesus reminded Martha that Mary had chosen the better thing: listening to His Word, something that could never be taken away from her.
The second instance of Mary in the gospels is found in John 11. In this chapter we see a different side of Mary. We see a woman who was overcome with grief and heartache over the loss of her brother. In verse 28, Martha says to her sister, ‘The Teacher is here and is calling for you’, and Mary immediately rose and went to Him. Mary was in a house full of people who were there to comfort her in her time of grief, but when she heard that Her Savior was near, she immediately turned to Him for comfort. Here we see a touching story of Mary falling at Jesus’ feet and crying out to Him. Scripture shows us that when Jesus saw this, He too was moved to tears. Jesus saw her sadness and wept along with her. In the same, when we are struggling and sad, there is hope in knowing that we have a Comforter right next us, giving us strength every step of the way.
The third story of Mary in the gospels is my favorite. It is one that depicts a beautiful image of Mary’s love towards her Savior.
“Mary then took a pound of very costly perfume of pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.”
-John 12: 3
When scolded by Judas Iscariot for using the costly perfume on Jesus and not selling it to give the proceeds to the poor, Mary remained silent once again, allowing Jesus to fight her battle. Mary knew the Savior and trusted, just as she did in the first incident, that He would defend her and her actions. Jesus did this by saying, “Let her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of My burial. For you always have the poor with you, but you do not always have Me” (John 12: 7-8). Mary was in tune with the Savior, while the rest of the disciples were busy talking about other things, Mary had Jesus’ death and burial on her mind. She gave the best that she had to Jesus. Mary realized that her time with her Savior was limited, and she wanted to serve Him with the best that she had. Using expensive perfume to anoint Jesus’ feet and wiping them with her hair was an amazing act of service. Her act of service is something Jesus said would be remembered through the ages. It was not solely on the fact that she used the expensive perfume, but that she was in sync with the Savior. She knew what was coming and what He was about to face and she was preparing for his death and burial.
Personally, I feel that the life of Mary is one of the most beautiful stories depicted in Scripture. She was a woman of faith; a woman who desired to be near to the Lord and did not let herself get caught up in the worries of this world. Instead, she focused on the truth, the one thing that would last for eternity. We also see in her time of suffering that she quickly responded to the Lords call to her. Her hasty reaction to Jesus’ call caused those around her to follow her to Jesus. John 11:45 says, “Therefore many of the Jews who came to Mary, and saw what He had done (raising Lazarus from the dead), believed in Him”. If Mary chose to be angry with the Lord or delayed in her meeting the Savior, many of those people who believed may not have come to know the power of Jesus Christ. Even in her time of pain, God used her actions to bring people to the presence of Jesus Christ. When we commit everything we have to God and put Him first, He will work miracles and possibly use our lives as a witness to other people. Mary’s commitment to Jesus in the first two stories led to her action of service before His death on the cross. Mary’s time spent with the Savior developed a true understanding of who He is and His purpose on this Earth. She mediated on His every word and was in tune with His character. Today we have an opportunity to have the same kind of faith and passion for Christ that Mary had. We have His Word and if we meditate on it day and night, we will be able to know Him and trust in His promises. Jesus Christ had a limited time on this Earth and Mary used every opportunity to get to know Him and welcomed Him in her life. She put Him above everything else, and in the end was able to share a precious memory with Him that will forever be remembered. Mary’s commitment to the Lord is a testament for us. If we look to Jesus and stay focused on Him, He will use us for His glory. He will work in us and allow us to serve Him in ways that we can’t even begin to imagine.
Jeremiah 29:13: “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Let us be like Mary and seek Jesus with all of our hearts, by sitting at His feet, studying and obeying His word, and serving Him with all that we have.