Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Bible Character 3: Mary Of Bethany

Isn't it strange of how many Mary's there are in the Bible? It seems like every other woman in ancient times was named Mary!

Our Mary in subject is Mary of Bethany, sister of Martha and Lazarus, who was raised from the dead. Matthew, Mark and John have each narrated the story in a different way and I, take pieces from each of the books to share my idea about this marvelous woman in the Bible for whom Jesus said, "Now I assure you that whenever this gospel is preached all over the world, what she has done will be told in memory of her." (Matthew 26:13)

Grabbing attention.

Jesus was in Bethany at the house of Simon, a man who had suffered from a dreaded skin disease. While Jesus was eating, a woman came in with an alabaster jar full of a very expensive perfume made of pure nard. She broke the jar and poured the perfume on Jesus' head. Some of the people there became angry and said to one another, “What was the use of wasting the perfume? It could have been sold for more than three hundred silver coins and the money given to the poor!” And they criticized her harshly.

But Jesus said, “Leave her alone! Why are you bothering her? She has done a fine and beautiful thing for me. You will always have poor people with you, and any time you want to, you can help them. But you will not always have me. She did what she could; she poured perfume on my body to prepare it ahead of time for burial. Now, I assure you that wherever the gospel is preached all over the world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.” (Mark 14:3-9)

A few days before the Festival of Passover, Jesus and his disciples, were invited to share a meal at Martha' house. While she kept herself busy serving the guests, her bother Lazarus, who was recently bought back to life by Jesus, sat with Jesus to share a meal. While everyone was enjoying the meal, there came Mary with an alabaster jar full of a very expensive perfume made of pure nard and broke the jar of perfume. What do you think happened? Imagine you are enjoying a nice meal; the aroma of curry and biryani filling the atmosphere amidst fun, frolic, laughter, and there comes one of the hosts and breaks a jar of alabaster! What do you think would have happened? Of course, all eyes were turned at her direction. And the few whose attention was not caught by the breaking of the alabaster jar, the fragrance of "pure nard" mark you, a very expensive perfume; grabbed every one's attention for sure. A few shocked on lookers, a few curious eyes and a few murmuring folks!

We know for sure from John's version of the gospel that Judas Iscariot voiced himself saying, “Why wasn't this perfume sold for three hundred silver coins and the money given to the poor?” And I am sure there were many more who had their own opinion about the act who may be, did not voice it out.

Unconcerned, so non-sensitive

Mary broke the jar and poured the perfume on either Jesus' head or, feet, we will never really know
for sure. All we know is she anointed him with an expensive oil. Oil worth three hundred silver coins! Something that might have coasted her all her life savings. Something she might have saved for herself.  But here she was. Unconcerned of the cost of the oil or, what it was worth. All she knew was that nothing but the best for the Master.

"She poured it on Jesus' feet and wiped them with her hair". That is when the whispering and murmuring would have begun. But nothing affected her. She was not bothered about what people thought about her or her act. She was happy to be at the Master's feet. She was the least concerned to reply to questions like, "Why the waste of money?". She sought repentance at Jesus' feet. She did not see the need to defend herself in the presence of the Lord. People's opinion did not matter. Neither were her ears open to the criticism of her serving her God, nor were her eyes ready to see the mockery of those who did not see Jesus for who He was. She acknowledged Jesus for who He was. She understood that He had to die a bitter death. She wept, for she knew that it would be the last time she sat at Jesus' feet. When Peter rebuked Jesus for talking about His death and the other disciples were trying to secure a place besides Jesus in heaven for themselves, this woman was simply surrendering herself at His feet. She did not have to bribe or butter Jesus for a throne besides Him. She did not want to be the first. She was ready to be the last. She did not want to be served, she was ready to serve.

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She believed Jesus was the Son of God. She did not have to answer people back; she believed Jesus would do that for her. She laid her burdens on Him to carry. "Cast your burden upon the LORD and He will sustain you". She understood what Jesus meant when He said, "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest." She knew she did not have to bother about her appearance when she was in the presence of the Lord. Her hair did not have to be neatly tied; she did not have to bother about her mascara running down her cheek. She knew she was beautiful in the sight of her God. "... For I am fearfully and wonderfully made ...".  She came beautifully in the presence of her God. Where women were judged for every behavior and conduct of theirs, she wasn't ashamed of getting intimate with her God. All she wanted to do was to be close to her God, to serve Him; to humble herself at His feet. She completely devoted herself to Him. Not only was she not concerned about others, she did not even bother if Jesus was busy. She did not care if she was interrupting His meal. She was confident that no matter what, her God always has time for her. She had the assurance that she could approach her God whenever she wanted to and He will heed to her. She did not need a time table, an appointment or any kind of privacy to serve her God. She could worship her God whenever, wherever and as often as she wanted to.

Mary did not go into the gathering to grab attention of the guests or to grab Jesus' attention. Neither did she say a single word to the crowd, nor did she say a single word to Jesus. She did not have to give an explanation to anyone -- neither to Jesus nor to the crowd. A thousand words to the carnal world would always be less yet, the silence would be understood by the Spirit. The Lord saw her heart -- the heart that yearned for the Master; the heart that desired the Master; the heart that surrendered itself to the Master. No wonder, even when she had no plans of grabbing anyone's attention, her story is such that Jesus himself declared, "... whenever this gospel is preached all over the world, what she has done will be told in memory of her." 

Two thousand years after Christ, her story is still read, circulated and preached. Is there a Mary of Bethany is you? Are you ready to humble yourself? Are you ready to serve more than being served? Are you ready to give up the world and its opinion about you?

God always has time for you. You do not have to call unto Him with vain or repetitive words but with a voice of faith and surrenderance. Worship God in everything you do and with everything you have. Worship him with your time; with your money; with your talent; with your work; with your words; with your actions; your behavior. You are a chosen one in God's army. You are His trusted general. You actions, your conduct, you behavior and your words let them be to encourage one another. To bring souls out of darkness so they may see the light that you have been exposed to. Be His salt that adds flavor to His kingdom and the His light that lights up the world He created. 

4 comments:

  1. Nice reflection. Cheers & God bless!

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  2. Very well written. I particularly liked the end.
    Waiting for more :)
    God bless you!

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