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

 

Imagine Your New Life

In our church, often, songs with the themes of heaven and grace are sung. As we all join together heralding this good news, the idea of this blessed condition makes me weep at times. While singing, my mind ponders how freeing it is to live a life indelibly marked by the grace of Jesus. None of us deserve this grace. Gratitude often springs from my heart because I know without the Lord, my life would be as dark as the night sky with no hope of a new day. Quite the opposite is true, and I know it is because of the grace of Jesus.

If you are a follower of Jesus, surely you know and experience the grace of God daily!

He cares so deeply for His children, and His love is boundless and inexhaustible, and unfathomable.

If you aren’t a follower of Jesus, you may wonder how to make sense of it all. Surely, observing the events of our day would rattle the most stable person and cause questions to swirl. I’m wondering if you are in that state now; would you be looking for lasting peace?

The One who lives inside me is the only One who’s been able to give my life peace, purpose, and a plan. He is my stability and my joy.

This all-encompassing God also has a place reserved for me in Heaven. I know this for sure, and it’s not because of anything I’ve done. It’s actually because of everything He did for me when He died on the cross. Then, when I chose to receive His gift of salvation, certainty and assurance became my eternal hope.

I don’t deserve this one bit.14817349-b429-4450-b53f-185aa2348732

This gift came at the most supreme of sacrifices. God sent His One and Only Son to this earth with a mission to die for my sin and your sin. Receiving this gift has nothing to do with anything I’ve done. I am not a good person, nor do I have to do good works to earn this salvation. Any good coming from me is only because of Jesus and His righteousness. Any good works I do spring from my love for Him.

My faith is in the person of Jesus, not a religion. Because of Jesus, my heart is more tender to this world, and prayer is my response. I don’t lose hope. I know there are spiritual forces at work in this world.

Certainly, I’ve decided to follow Jesus, which means my life focuses on being part of the solution to the world’s ills. But my hope and peace are not found in this world. This world, as we know it will not last. So how does one find this peace? How can one have peace with God in a world shattered in pieces?

Consider these verses:

John 3:16 & 17 – “For God so loved the world, that He gave his only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through Him.

John 14:6- Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

Romans 3:23 -for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God…

Romans 6:23- For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus, our Lord.

Ephesians 2:8-9 – I mean that you have been saved by grace through believing. You did not save yourselves; it was a gift from God. 9 It was not the result of your own efforts, so you cannot brag about it.

Acts 2:21 – And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

If you believe what you’ve just read, then you can ask Jesus to come live in your heart and He will. By recognizing your need for Him, you can begin a relationship with the eternal and loving God. It is the best decision you will ever make. Once you do this, you will want to find a Bible-teaching church to attend. You can find several resources on this blog about reading the Bible and learning to walk in His ways.

Dear Jesus, if I don’t know you, I pray now and ask you to come live in my heart. I need you to forgive me of my sin. I believe you died on the cross for my sin and rose again. Please take my sin away and come live inside of me. I want my life to count for you. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Finally Forgiven and Free

It was a summer evening in a satellite prison when we connected with Cassidy. Middle-aged, postured to disappear into the doorway where she leaned; her brown hair draped loosely around her neck and shoulders and a slight smile on her worn face, she stood patiently.

My husband, Clark, and I were there to interview women as potential residents into a transitional home where we serve.

We greeted Cassidy and gathered in a small, sparsely furnished room of 4 plastic chairs and a table to get to know her.

As the interview began, Clark asked her to tell us her spiritual background. Some recent experiences in a large prison and even a baptism there were reported in a soft voice. She went on to speak of attending church services in prison she was now in. Yet, instead of bringing clarity, more questions came to mind. I think our problem was how impersonal the experiences appeared to be to her. We inquired of her upbringing, searching for more answers.  Church or Christian background was minimal. After listening and finding no path to Jesus, I launched a question to her. “Ok, Cassidy, so who is Jesus to you?” As her head drooped, tears cascaded down her face. In a raspy voice, she said, “well, ma’am. I’m not really sure.”

This let us know one thing for sure. She had been chasing God, trying to find Him through religious meetings, but she had not found Him for herself.

We explained this spiritual dilemma which struck a chord with her. I assured her, given the fact she was searching for God, she would undoubtedly find Him. Clark began to go through the scriptures using a tract, and her tears increased as she understood who she was concerned about who God is. As moments passed, her spirit continued to soften. It was apparent she was hearing what her soul needed. The presence of the Holy Spirit accompanied our talk, and soon Cassidy’s humbled voice prayed a prayer of salvation. Understanding who she was talking to and what only He could do for her engulfed her.

When she was finished, she wrote her spiritual birthday on the tract as proof of her eternally significant prayer. We gave her some “assignments” so she could interact with God’s Word and also some assurances and promises for the days ahead. We walked away in the summer twilight, knowing the search for God was over for Cassidy. Peace and gratitude looked good on her. In stripes or not, she had finally found the One who would give her identity beyond her past. She was…finally forgiven and free.

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Now the LORD is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the LORD is, there is freedom.

2 Corinthians 3:17