Mary was a popular name during biblical times and therefore many women were named Mary. Although the name Mary was common, one “Mary” in particular was certainly not, and that prime example was Mary of Bethany. This Mary was the sister of Lazarus and Martha who all resided in the small town of Bethany. Jesus was close to all three and even the text bears out the strength of their relationship, “Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister [Mary: John 1:1], and Lazarus” (John 11:5). No doubt, Jesus loved them dearly because of their strong faith and godly character which was undeniable in their sister Mary who seem to always find herself at the feet of Jesus (John 11:32; 11:2; 12:3; Luke 10:39). From Mary’s example we learn…
To Do What We Can for Jesus. While Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper, a woman came to Him and poured very precious ointment over His head (Mark 14:3). The same account told by John reveals that the woman was Mary and that she also anointed Jesus’ feet (John 12:2-3). In Mark’s account we are told that some were upset that she wasted the precious oil that could be sold for much money (one of which was Judas; John 12:4-6). Jesus responded with, “Let her alone; why trouble ye her?” and then later, “She hath done what she could” (Mark 14:6,8). It is implied that she was not in a position to do a whole lot for the Lord, but she did what she could. Wow, if we could only learn this. One might not be able to preach or teach, or physically walk well enough to serve on the table or knock doors. But there is always something we can do.
The Importance of Jesus’ Words. Luke reveals how Jesus came to the house of Mary and Martha (Luke 10:38-42). Martha was upset that Mary had left her to serve alone. So she appealed to the Lord to have Mary come and help her. Mary who was again at the feet of Jesus, but this time was listening to Him speak, was defended by Jesus for choosing the most important thing which was receiving His words. We must also learn to maintain correct spiritual priorities. Nothing should come ahead of prayer time, weekly worship, bible study, or our Christian activities we have together. We must learn to first choose “that good part” (Matt. 6:33).
That Life Comes from Jesus. Before Jesus arrived, Lazarus died. Mary and Martha were both at home being comforted by others (John 11:31). Mary arose and left hastily. The comforting crowd thought she went to Lazarus’ grave, but she really went to where Jesus was (v. 32). At times of great personal loss, others are fine to have, but are not enough (Rom. 12:15).