I’ve been studying the book of Mark this summer and I was reintroduced to someone who just stopped me in my tracks! I’d like to tell you about this amazing woman!
Her name is Mary and she was from a small town, less than two miles from Jerusalem, called Bethany!
She had a sister named Martha and a brother named Lazarus. They were great friends of Jesus.
When Jesus came for a visit with His disciples Martha was busy and distracted with preparations for them while Mary “WAS LISTENING TO THE LORD’S WORD SEATED AT HIS FEET”.
You can read this story in Luke 10:38-42.
We see Mary and her siblings again in John 11:1- 44 when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead.
And here she is in the book of Mark! Let’s look at this story…
It was the time of a high holy day and Jerusalem is packed with Jewish worshippers.
Two days before the Passover, Jesus and His inner circle of disciples were again in Bethany. But they were not at the home of Mary. They are eating at the home of Simon the Leper.
While they were “reclining at the table” having dinner in comes Mary! Amazingly bold and unconventional. This was a men’s only dinner!
She came in “WITH AN ALABASTER VIAL OF VERY COSTLY PERFUME OF PURE NARD”. In front of everyone Mary then breaks the neck of the vial and poured the contents over Jesus’ head. Mark 14:3
Only the most precious and costly ointments were put in alabaster containers. Nard was a very costly aromatic oil and the amount Mary poured on Jesus’ head costs about a years wages for a laborer at that time!
Many also say this might have been Mary’s dowery.
Why would Mary do such a thing? Why would she literally pour out her dowery?
The Bible does not tell us! But here’s what I think…
I think Mary anointed Jesus’ head as a singular act of worship! She worshipped Jesus with everything she had! What overcame Mary to understand that Jesus was worth everything?
We need to circle back to the story of Martha and Mary in Luke where we see Mary sitting at the feet of Jesus.
Why was she sitting there? A woman’s place was to serve. Why was Martha so busy with the immediate needs of the disciples and Jesus while Mary sat at Jesus’ feet? Why didn’t Jesus scold Mary when Martha complained that Mary was not helping?
MARTHA, MARTHA, YOU ARE WORRIED AND BOTHERED ABOUT SO MANY THINGS; BUT ONLY A FEW THINGS ARE NECESSARY, REALLY ONLY ONE, FOR MARY HAS CHOSEN THE GOOD PART, WHICH SHALL NOT BE TAKEN AWAY FROM HER. Luke 10:41-42
In ancient times students or disciples sat at the feet of their teachers to learn. To soak up all the wisdom and words their teachers offered.
Mary was doing the same thing. And this was so unusual because woman at that time did not sit at the feet of a teacher.
I think Mary, who was a good Jewish woman, threw convention to the wind because she HAD CHOSES THE GOOD PART! Her desire to hear and learn from her Teacher became the most important thing to her!
Now let’s head back to the dinner at the house of Simon the leper.
After Mary had poured out her nard in complete devotion to her Lord some of the men grumbled about the waste of her act. They said the money from the sale of the nard could be used to help the poor.
But Jesus told them to leave her alone and that “SHE HAS DONE A GOOD DEED FOR ME”. Luke 14:6.
He went on to say, “SHE HAS DONE WHAT SHE COULD; SHE HAS ANOINTED MY BODY BEFOREHAND FOR THE BURIAL”. Luke 14:8
Jesus had been talking very frankly to the apostles about His upcoming death. But the apostles were not listening! They were distracted!
They were expecting a political uprising where Jesus would somehow conquer Rome and set up a physical kingdom in Israel. And they were expecting to rule with Him! Suffering and death did not fit their narrative!
But I think Mary was listening! And she believed Jesus. She knew what was about to happen. I think she poured out her love and worship in the form of the nard and symbolically was anointing Jesus’ body for burial!
So great was her worship and her love for her Lord!
How did Mary know Jesus so well? She listened intently to everything He said! And she believed Him! And His agenda became hers! And out of her belief, she acted!
I love Mary and her example of how she knew and loved Jesus. And we should strive to be like Mary. Listening then believing and then acting! In that order.
We can know Jesus too! We just need to spend time with Him. We can know Him by studying His Word!
And when we do we will fall totally in love with Him too!
We can know Jesus when we set aside time to block out all the other bothers of this world and solely focus on Him.
Let’s sit at Jesus feet and learn from Him, just like Mary!