Life can get very busy with all our daily activities. Balancing work, family, friends, social obligations, and never-ending-to-do lists often leaves us with little to no time for what matters. If you’ve ever found yourself struggling to carve out time for God, you are not alone.
The life of Mary of Bethany shows us that even with busy schedules, God still wants us to slow down, reconnect with what truly matters, and spend time in His ever-patient presence. In examining the life of Mary of Bethany, we uncover invaluable insights into priorities, the passionate pursuit of God, and the power of unwavering faith.
Through her actions and choices, she teaches us that true fulfillment comes from sitting at the feet of God, learning from His teachings, and embracing His divine plan with unshakeable confidence. In this blog post, we will look at the life of Mary of Bethany the sister of Martha and the lessons of faith we can learn from her.
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The Story of Mary of Bethany
The story of Mary of Bethany teaches us about the importance of prioritizing our relationship with Jesus, finding solace and comfort in Him, and expressing our love and faith through our actions. The first time we read about Mary of Bethany was in her encounter with Jesus in Luke 10:38-42.
Mary lived with her siblings Martha and Lazarus. One day, Jesus and His disciples came to their home. Martha, caught up in the duties of hospitality and much serving, hurried to prepare a meal for their guests. Meanwhile, Mary chose a different path. Ignoring the distractions, she sat at the feet of Jesus, captivated by His teachings.
Martha felt burdened by the tasks and approached Jesus to express her frustration that Mary wasn’t helping. Although Martha’s intentions were right, Jesus’ response gently corrected her, praising Mary’s choice. He emphasized that learning from Him was more valuable than any earthly chore, highlighting the importance of focusing on His teachings.
Tragedy soon struck the family in the home of Lazarus, when Lazarus of Bethany fell gravely ill. His sister Mary sent a message to Jesus, pleading for His help. When Jesus heard of Lazarus’s condition, He explained that this sickness wouldn’t end in death but would bring out the glory of God. Despite His deep love for the family, Jesus delayed His arrival.
Four days later, Jesus arrived in Bethany. Lazarus’ sister Mary, consumed by grief, went out to meet Him. Witnessing her pain, our savior Jesus Christ was deeply moved and wept alongside her. In a moment that defied the natural order, Jesus called Lazarus out of the tomb, restoring him to life. Mary’s actions and her sorrow turned to joy, showcasing Jesus as the ultimate source of comfort, even in the face of death.
We hear about Mary of Bethany again when Jesus returns to her home, where a dinner was held in His honor at the house of Simon. Martha, true to her nature, served diligently, while Lazarus, a living miracle, reclined at the table. Then, Mary, filled with profound gratitude, took a alabaster jar of very expensive perfume (pure nard) and anointed the lord’s’ feet, wiping them with her hair.
As the fragrance of the perfume permeated the air, Judas Iscariot, blinded by material concerns, criticized her gesture, but Jesus, recognizing her act as one of sacrificial love, defended her. He appreciated her preparation for the day of my burial he said, underlining the importance of devotion and selfless service.
Through Mary, we learn the enormous impact an encounter with Jesus can have on our lives.
Mary of Bethany Bible Verses
Luke’s account of Mary of Bethany’s story can be found in the new testament in Luke 10:38-42, and john’s account in John 11:1-44 and John 12:1-8. In Luke 10:38-42, we find the account of Mary choosing to sit and learn at Jesus’ feet.
In John 11:1-44, we read Mary’s interactions with Jesus when He raised her brother Lazarus from the dead. Lastly, Mary of Bethany appears in the gospel accounts in John 12:1-8 six days before the Passover celebration began, when she anointed Jesus’ feet with oil.
Lessons From Mary of Bethany
1. Prioritizing What Matters (Luke 10:38-42)
In choosing to sit at Jesus’ feet while her sister Martha busied herself with chores, Mary teaches us the importance of prioritizing spiritual nourishment.
While life can get busy with mundane tasks, like Mary, choose the “better part” by nurturing your spiritual life through prayer, reading the Bible, and seeking God’s presence daily. Prioritizing your relationship with God enriches your soul and provides enduring peace amidst life’s chaos is such a beautiful thing.
2. Trusting God’s Timing (John 11:1-44)
When Lazarus was sick, Mary called on Jesus and trusted Him even when He appeared to be late. When you are in crisis, it can be difficult to trust that God’s timing is best but when you trust in the Lord with all of your heart, leaning not on your own understanding (Proverbs 3:5-6), you see that God is always on time.
Mary’s story illustrates that God’s plans unfold according to His divine schedule, reinforcing the importance of patience and trust in our lives. Trust in God’s plan even in the darkest moments and this unwavering faith will overcome even the most daunting circumstances.
3. Seeking Comfort and Solace in Jesus (John 11:1-44)
In John 11:1-44, we see Mary, devastated by the loss of her brother, turning to Jesus for comfort and solace. Her profound grief mirrors the deep sorrows we often face in life. Yet, in her pain, Mary shows us the way, she seeks refuge in Jesus, finding solace in His presence and unwavering love.
This narrative reminds us that, in our times of despair, we too can turn to Jesus, finding peace in His boundless compassion. Like Mary, we can trust that He is our ultimate source of comfort, offering solace that transcends all understanding, even in the most challenging situations.
4. Expressing Sacrificial Love and Devotion (John 12:1-8)
In the story of Mary’s love and devotion found in John 12:1-8, we learn about a kind of love that’s selfless and sacrificial. Mary, deeply devoted to Jesus, poured costly perfume on His feet, profoundly showing her love.
This act wasn’t just a gesture; it was a sacrifice. The perfume was valuable, but she used it to honour Jesus. Her story teaches us about giving our best to God, even when it costs us something precious. It shows us that love expressed through sacrifice can be a powerful testimony of our devotion to our Savior.
5. Letting Go of Material Attachments (John 12:1-8)
What is the most valuable thing you own? Could you give it up for Jesus? Mary, a woman who deeply loved Jesus, used precious perfume to anoint His feet. This perfume was worth a lot of money, but Mary let go of it willingly, choosing to honour Jesus instead.
Her actions teach us a powerful lesson about letting go of material attachments. Sometimes, we hold on tightly to things we own, thinking they define our worth. Mary’s story shows us that there’s something extraordinary in giving up our material possessions for a greater cause, like showing love and respect to others. Letting go of these attachments can bring us closer to God and help us focus on what truly matters—love, kindness, and our relationship with Him.
6. Remaining Silent in the Face of Criticism (John 12:1-8)
Imagine doing something good and being criticized for it. In John 12:1-8, Mary poured expensive perfume on Jesus’ feet out of love and respect. Some people, like Judas, criticized her, saying it was a waste.
But Mary remained silent. Her quiet confidence in her actions teaches us a valuable lesson about facing criticism. Instead of arguing back, Mary chose to let her actions speak louder than words. Sometimes, when we do what is right, people might not understand or appreciate it.
In those moments, Mary’s silence reminds us that our convictions and good deeds are powerful responses to criticism. By staying true to our beliefs and actions, we can show the strength of our character and the depth of our faith, even in the face of negativity.
Characteristics of Mary of Bethany
The account of Mary of Bethany’s life has many valuable lessons for us to learn. Even though life is busy, we can learn from her how to make the most of our time. Mary reminds us to focus on what really matters and find peace in God’s presence, even when things are hectic. She also teaches us about love, devotion, and being true to ourselves.
Mary chose to spend time with Jesus when her sister was busy with other things. This tells us that we should make time for our spiritual well-being. Even when life is chaotic, like Mary, we can find calm by nurturing our relationship with God. When her brother Lazarus of the town of Bethany was very sick, Mary trusted that God’s timing was right, even though it was hard.
We can learn from her to have patience and faith in difficult times. Trusting God’s plan can help us through tough situations. She was also authentic about her emotions. This teaches us to be real and show love and gratitude to God and others. It’s important to be ourselves, even in a world where many people pretend to be someone they’re not.
Mary’s desire to learn from the son of God is a reminder that our faith journey is ongoing. No matter how much we know, there’s always more to discover. We can follow her example and keep growing in our faith.
In Mary of Bethany’s simple actions, we find important lessons. Her story encourages us to slow down, focus on what truly matters, and nurture our relationship with God. By living out these lessons, we can navigate life’s challenges with grace, purpose, and a heart full of love.
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