Mary of Bethany

Just a few days before Jesus would die on the cross for the sins of the world, there is an account of a woman who took an opportunity to worship Him. Her display was remarkable and loving and remembered throughout all time.

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John 12:1-8 is the passage. We find Lazarus hosting a dinner for Jesus. Martha is serving. Mary is near Jesus.

It is six days before the Passover Feast. Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus lived. Lazarus was the one Jesus had raised from the dead.

2 A dinner was given at Bethany to honor Jesus. Martha served the food. Lazarus was among the people at the table with Jesus. 3 Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard. It was an expensive perfume. She poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped them with her hair. The house was filled with the sweet smell of the perfume.
4 But Judas Iscariot didn’t like what Mary did. He was one of Jesus’ disciples. Later he was going to hand Jesus over to his enemies. Judas said, 5 “Why wasn’t this perfume sold? Why wasn’t the money given to poor people? It was worth a year’s pay.” 6 He didn’t say this because he cared about the poor. He said it because he was a thief. Judas was in charge of the money bag. He used to help himself to what was in it.
7 “Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. “The perfume was meant for the day I am buried. 8 You will always have the poor among you. But you won’t always have me.”

What splendid love Mary displays.

As onlookers to this beautiful story, we admire Mary because of her outward evidence of inward devotion toward Jesus. She gave all she had to worship Jesus and show her love to Him.

To Mary, Jesus was the only one in the room. She is compelled to worship Him in this precious and costly way.

Judas, the one who would later betray Jesus was in the room and opposed this act of love. Judas’s weakness was he cared only for himself. When he tried to deceitfully point out Mary’s love toward Jesus as being misguided, the selfishness and darkness in his character are exposed.

The difference between Judas and Mary is stark. Judas tried to garner favor for his position by pulling in the poor as his cover. He not only revealed his true colors but tried to deceive those around him into thinking he was concerned for the poor.

Jesus, of course, was the One present concerned about the poor most of all. The fact that Judas tried this tactic with Jesus present exposes even more about Judas’s unfavorable and repulsive character.

Mary, on the other hand, is generous in her expression of love. To be clear, it was a display. Unabashed, Mary seems oblivious to the dark character sitting near her in Judas and still displays a lavish love for Jesus using a lavish product. She is one to admire and esteem.

Jesus knew both hearts, of course, and welcomed Mary’s love and worship while penetrating the darkness of Judas with a direct command to leave Mary alone.

This story thrills me. Jesus, willing to fellowship with friends and foes alike, ready to defend the pure in heart, receives an extravagant love and appreciates the sacrifice. In only a few words, He exposes the motives and forces of evil sitting near Him in Judas.

The people in Jesus’ day didn’t understand they would soon lose Him to a brutal and sacrificial death on their behalf. Even in this passage, Jesus tells those present that He will not always be with them. They couldn’t grasp that He’d soon be gone. No matter how many times Jesus spoke of His coming death, they could not understand.

In a few days, each day leading to the Resurrection holds a different meaning. Let’s ponder Mary. This brave lady used her opportunity to worship Jesus in the face of evil.  In a few days, she would be at the foot of the cross with other women who loved Him. Let’s be like Mary, unashamed to worship the One who saved us and faithful enough to live for Him until the end of our days.

Perhaps the most striking lesson to be learned from Mary of Bethany is her unwavering devotion to Jesus. She not only followed Him; she worshipped Him. She hung on His every word. No matter what was happening around her, she never lost sight of Him. Jesus defended her pure love, and He ensures her story is told through the ages.

She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he said. Luke 10:39

 

4 Quotes That Changed My Life

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Who doesn’t love a good quote? A good quote has at its origin a pithy quality and sums up a truth about the human experience we relate to.

The following quotes likely won’t be famous, but none the less, they’ve impacted my life. All have a memory associated with them.

4 Quotes That Changed My Life:

    Honey, if we knew it all, we couldn’t stand it!” – I remember standing in the living room of one of my mother’s friends when I heard this. It’s like yesterday, my tall mother and her tall friend chatting away, and my little self, paying attention. I was a curious child. They must’ve been talking about something terrible that had occurred because the question that swirled in my head and soon emerged was about why couldn’t God let us know things. This phrase was the answer my mother’s friend said to me. I didn’t understand it then, but her experience walking with God prepared her to answer me this way, and I never forgot it. Her answer’s been indelibly printed in my mind and remains an active concept to me. The phrase points to God’s wisdom in all things and His protection of our emotions.
  • Faith is not a feeling” – At a meeting of Campus Crusade for Christ in college, I first heard this. The speaker introduced this idea, and it is a concept that has pulsated in my mind throughout my life. Truly faith and feelings can rarely coexist. Without faith, the Bible says it is impossible to please God. As women, we let our feelings and emotions make decisions for us. Faith relies fully on God and His wisdom.
  • Go do something normal” – My husband first said this to me and just him saying it brought comfort to me at the time. We’ve all had times when we didn’t feel like our typical self? We could be confused, fearful, uncertain, plagued by doubt. Anytime this happens, it’s good to find the familiar, call a friend, brush your teeth, exercise, listen to a sermon, write some scripture. At times, this angst comes at night, ushering in a sleepless night. Whenever this happens, don’t focus on it. Instead, work around it. Go do something normal.
  • You can’t go with God and stay where you are” – It was at a marriage conference at Ridgecrest Conference Center in North Carolina that I heard Henry Blackaby utter these profound words. There are times when God is calling a follower of His to do something. If we don’t do it, then we’ve decided to stay where we are. When we do this, we miss the joy of the following Him in obedience and you can be sure of this, you will regret your no. Sometimes these calls from God require an address change. Sometimes they require courage to speak, the decision to let go, the tenacity to face the hill and begin, or maybe to change your schedule. Going with God could be obediently staying where we are when the urge to leave is strong. Going with God is staying in step with His spirit. It’s an adventure. It is irrevocable. If you miss it, well, you’ve missed it. Gone forever.

Maybe these quotes will keep you pondering today about your walk with God. We miss so much of what God has for us. These quotes teach me that I don’t have to know everything, God is big enough to carry me through whatever is coming, I can trust Him in faith. There are times I’m going to feel off or uncertain, but the feeling will pass as I press on through the day, and if I go with God, He will be with me. God is speaking, are you listening?

And the Lord said to Moses, “I will come to you in a thick cloud and speak to you. The people will hear me speaking with you and will always trust you.” Then Moses told the Lord what the people had said. Exodus 19:9