Women of Purity: Mary of Bethany
By Selma Komisky
Many recognize Mary of Bethany in the Bible as Martha Lazarus’ sister. Yet, I think what she is best known for is being at the feet of Jesus. Anointing His feet with her hair in John 11:2 and sitting at Jesus’ feet in Luke 10:39, 42, it is clear that Mary loved to sit at Jesus’ feet.
What we know from the Bible is that Mary lived in the town of Bethany located about two miles from Jerusalem (John 11:18). Never mentioning Mary’s appearance, I find it interesting that Jesus brings out what Mary’s heart was like. Jesus told Mary’s busy sister, “Martha, Martha, You are worried and upset about many things but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better,” (Luke 10:41-42, NIV) But what is the better part you might be asking? Jesus was conveying the truth that He must be our sole priority.
Let’s take a look at Mary of Bethany – Mary focused on Christ during a difficult time.
In (John 11:1-4) we notice Mary facing a tremendous crisis. Mary’s brother Lazarus was very ill, near death. So Mary and Martha sent word to Jesus for help. Word gets to Jesus about Lazarus but instead of Jesus hurrying there delays two more days. Now Mary has a dilemma, unless Jesus gets there immediately, her brother will die. Wow, now what?
Although she is weeping, regardless of her circumstances Mary is at the feet of Jesus! John 11:33-35 states that Mary’s greatest comfort was found in Jesus alone whose compassion was endless. He also gave security and embodied peace. So in times of trial whom do we seek for comfort? What happens when circumstances or prayers are delayed and don’t turn out like we thought? Do we continue to trust Jesus like Mary did?
Jesus didn’t delay because He didn’t care or love Mary and her family. The Bible says in (John 11:5) that Jesus loved Martha, her sister (Mary) and Lazarus. Jesus also says in (John 11:4) that the purpose of Lazarus illness was not death, but for the glory of God! We can see that Jesus uses trials in our lives to accomplish great things! So even when Mary didn’t understand and know what Jesus was about to do a greater miracle (rise up her brother back to life – (John 11:41-44), she simply trusted God. Mary surrendered everything to Jesus. She knew He was in control of the situation and Jesus was testing Mary’s faith reminding us that in our weakness He strengthens.
In John 12:1, it states that six days before the Passover, Jesus arrived at Bethany where Lazarus lived (whom Jesus had raised from the dead). Here a dinner was given in Jesus honor and here we see Mary worshipping Jesus in John 12:1-7.
Then in Luke 10:39, Mary is seen at the feet of Jesus hearing his Word. Notice Mary didn’t say anything but instead listened and here, she becomes a godly role model to us women. She puts Jesus above all else! She spends quality time with her Savior and Mary soaks in every word Jesus says. How important it is that we spend time daily with Jesus when we read our Bible, pray, and fellowship with fellow believers. This is how we grow spiritually closer in our relationship with Christ.
Mark 14:3-9 in the Living translation it notes, “Meanwhile Jesus was in Bethany, at the home of Simon the leper, during supper a woman (Mary) came in with a beautiful flask of expensive perfume. Then breaking the seal, she poured it over His (Jesus) head.”
It was a happy time honoring Christ, celebrating with thanksgiving the return of Lazarus from the grave. Mary wasn’t ashamed to exhibit gratitude and adoration because she knew who Jesus really was. Her love for Him caused her to sacrifice costly ointment- worth about one year’s wages for a worker (The Nelson Study Bible).
In closing, are we worshippers of God? God welcomes the gifts of worship we bring to pour at His feet. Do we give Jesus our all like Mary did? I encourage you to pour out your love as often and generously as you can. God created us to worship and calls us to it. Our Heavenly Father desires intimacy! We should adore Him! Mary of Bethany did and worshipped Jesus with all her heart. Let’s remember in the words of Jesus in Mark 14:9 in the Living translation stating, “Jesus said, ‘And I tell you this in solemn truth, that wherever the Good News is preached throughout the world, this woman’s deed will be remembered and praised.’” Mary of Bethany is an example of purity and true beauty that lasts forever!