Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Mary Of Bethany

                Reading in John 11 I come across the sisters, Martha and Mary. John tells us that they lived in Bethany with their brother Lazarus. We hear a lot about these sisters. We hear about Martha who was a busy woman going about serving others and worried about many things. But then we hear about Mary, she was the one that sat at Jesus’ feet, she was the one that poured the costly ointment on His head and she seemed to be the more spiritual of the two sisters. But, Jesus loved both Martha and Mary. (Sometimes I think Martha gets a bad rap). As I was reading the accounts of Martha and Mary in the gospels, I saw a Mary who was dedicated and committed to the Lord Jesus Christ. She was a strong, independent woman who loved the Lord.  
                Mary lived with her sister Martha. The bible does not give us much background on Mary, but some think she could have been a single woman who never married, or she could have been a young widow. Whatever the case, it is never told to us the life that Mary had before she came to know and love Jesus Christ. (Many speculate, but I believe the Lord wants us to focus on who she is now, not who she was then) But what we do see is a woman committed to Jesus Christ, determined and dedicated to follow Him and Him alone; and her testimony is recorded in all four gospel accounts.
                “A woman came to Him having an alabaster flask of very costly fragrant oil, and she poured it on His head as He sat at the table.” Matthew 26:7 NKJV
                “And being in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper, as He sat at the table, a woman came having an alabaster flask of very costly of spikenard. Then she broke the flask and poured it on His head….Jesus answered and said …She has done what she could.” Mark 14:3, 8
                “And she had a sister called Mary who sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word…But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:39, 42
                “It was that Mary who anointed the Lord with fragrant oil and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick…Then Mary took a pound of very costly oil of spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil.” John 12:2, 3
                We see here a woman that was in love with her Savior. The first account of her in Matthew tells us that she came to Jesus humbly with the best she had to give Him and poured in on His head. She shows to her Savior a level of commitment that is equal, if not greater, to the disciples sitting around the table with Him. They were willing to go to the death with Him, yet here comes a woman who chooses to take what she has, which in those days was about a year’s worth of wages, and pour it out as a sign of her commitment and dedication to Him. She believed that He was her Savior, and it was through her actions that she confirmed her faith in Him.
                In the next account we see Mark recounting the same facts as Matthew did. Jesus rebukes the disciples who are complaining about what she gave and tells them that “She has done what she could.” Mary, if she was a widow, had nothing. All her worldly possession, all her financial hopes were tied up in that flask of oil. Some commentators will tell us that the flask of oil was her dowry, and if she hoped to marry, she just gave that hope up. She gave Him what she could. She desired to show Him a love and affection, a commitment and dedication that would one day rival those who would become His apostles.
              Now in Luke we see her in the context of her own home, with her brother and her sister. Jesus is teaching His word and Mary is at His feet, soaking in every ounce of Him that she can. Jesus says that Mary has chosen that one thing. What is that one thing? Charles Spurgeon tells us what that one thing is. “We have no difficulty whatever in deciding what the one thing is. We are not allowed to say that it is the Saviour, for he is not a thing; and we are not permitted to say that it is attention to our own salvation, for although that would be true, it is not mentioned in the context. The one thing needful evidently is that which Mary chose-that good part which should not be taken away from her. Very clearly this was to sit at Jesus' feet and hear his word. This and nothing less, this and nothing more. The mere posture of sitting down and listening to the Saviour's word was nothing in itself: it was that which it indicated. It indicated, in Mary's case, a readiness to believe what the Saviour taught, to accept and to obey-nay to delight in, the precepts which fell from his lips.” (Sermon No. 1015)
                Mary chose His word. She was not only committed to Him in worship and in giving Him all that she could, she was committed to His words. There was not one word that fell from His lips that she let fall to the ground. She desired one thing, and that one thing is what is most needed in all our lives. John tells us that it was Mary who was the one who poured out the ointment, she was the one who sat at Jesus’ feet and because of her dedication and commitment to her Savior; her testimony is available for the whole of creation to read.
                We can learn much from Mary. She went against what everyone said and did what she believed was acceptable to the Lord. She went against the disciples who berated her for wasting her money, she went against her sister who was upset that she was not helping serve. She cared not about what anyone else thought or said, she only cared about Jesus and what He said. She was a strong woman, a woman who was committed and determined to follow the Lord Jesus no matter who or what tried to come against her. She was a woman who made a commitment to Jesus and did not falter when the world came against her. She sat and she listened, she bowed and she worshipped.
                She wanted and desired one thing, and she was determined to let no one get in her way. I believe Psalm 27:4 sums up Mary’s heart for us, “One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in His temple.” Mary desired one thing; she desired to seek the Lord, and to be near Him all the days of her life. There was nothing and no one going to stand in her way. What is standing in your way today of grasping hold of that one thing?
         What are we allowing to come in between our time with Jesus each and every day? Whatever it is, pour it out and sit before Him. Let the sweet fragrance of your offering to Him permeate your life. Mary took of what she had and she gave it to Jesus. Jesus did not look at her offering as simple or worthless; He saw her offering and proclaimed to all generations that her commitment was to be commended and exemplified. Jesus sees what we have and all He asks is that we give it to Him. If you are struggling today, just go and get Jesus. The answer to all your problems is found in these three words, “Just Get Jesus.” Mary did. She went and she grabbed a hold of Jesus and she refused to let Him go, no matter whom or what came against her. She was committed and determined to be His no matter the cost.

Can we say the same thing today? I want to encourage you all today to go and Get Jesus. Go and read the scriptures about Mary and seek the Lord and His word. Seek what He wants to speak to you through the life that she lived. She was set apart because she was willing to be set apart. She shines as a light to us today to become committed, dedicated and determined followers of Jesus Christ. She gave what she could, and sought Jesus above all else. Take the precious oil from your life and pour it out on the Lord this day, dedicate and commit to follow Him no matter what, no matter who tries to stand in your way. Be Mary today. In Jesus Name, Amen and Amen.