When you think of your favorite Bible story and your favorite Bible character, who comes to mind? There are many great and Godly people in the Bible that have done mighty things in God’s name. There have been mighty warriors and people with great faith that believed God would do what He said He would do.
But consider a lesser known character in the Bible that we can learn a lot from. A quiet woman from the town of Bethany – Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus. There are 3 accounts of her in Scripture and in each one she is doing something amazing – she is sitting at the feet of her Lord, her Savior, her Messiah, Jesus. We can learn some great spiritual truths from her life.
- The first time we see Mary is during a happy time in Luke 10:38-42.
As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.”
But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”
You see, her sister Martha was worried and stressed about the big meal she was preparing for Jesus. She was more concerned about serving and doing that she forgot what was most important. Jesus reminded her to stop striving and to be more like Mary who was just simply sitting at his feet, delighting in His word and teachings.
- This is so true in our lives. How many of us are stressed and worried and striving in our work for the Lord but not really spending much time with Him? Jesus is saying to you and me today, “You are worried, stressed, and uptight over details! Come, sit at my feet. Spend time with me, learn of me, and delight in my presence. This is what’s best!” Amen!
- The second time we see Mary is during a sad time in John 11:1-43. The scene opens up with Martha and Mary in a time of grief because their brother Lazarus has died. They send for Jesus to come and heal him but Jesus waited and did not come right away. When Jesus got there, Lazarus was already dead and in the grave for 3 days. Martha runs to meet Jesus and asks where he has been but Mary waits a little while to come to him.
Jesus had stayed outside the village, at the place where Martha met him. When the people who were at the house consoling Mary saw her leave so hastily, they assumed she was going to Lazarus’s grave to weep. So they followed her there. When Mary arrived and saw Jesus, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died.” – John 11:30-32
Even in the midst of grief and sadness, Mary still falls to the ground at the feet of Jesus. This shows an act of worship in one of the hardest times of her life. She knew who the Lord of her life was, even when she didn’t have all the answers. Because Mary knew that Jesus was the only One she could go to in her grief, she saw Him do a great miracle – her brother being raised from the dead. Because Mary spent time at Jesus’ feet, she saw healing which turned into joy and love.
- Where will I turn in my hour of hardship and grief? Where will I put my hope and trust? Who will I worship when I can’t even lift my heart from the pain? There’s only one place to go – the feet of Jesus. To the One who knows all, sees all, and is completely faithful. At the feet of Jesus there is healing, joy, and love.
- The third and final time we see Mary is just 6 days before the death of Jesus – at a dinner in Jesus’ honor. This time was probably happy, yet sad, yet confusing because of the suffering that Jesus would endure but also the joy that would come after His resurrection.
Six days before the Passover celebration began, Jesus arrived in Bethany, the home of Lazarus—the man he had raised from the dead. A dinner was prepared in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, and Lazarus was among those who ate with him. Then Mary took a twelve-ounce jar of expensive perfume made from essence of nard, and she anointed Jesus’ feet with it, wiping his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance. But Judas Iscariot, the disciple who would soon betray him, said, “That perfume was worth a year’s wages. It should have been sold and the money given to the poor.” Not that he cared for the poor—he was a thief, and since he was in charge of the disciples’ money, he often stole some for himself. Jesus replied, “Leave her alone. She did this in preparation for my burial. You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.” – John 12:1-8
This is a beautiful picture of a woman sitting at the feet of Jesus, worshipping Him. She brings an expensive jar of perfume, one that could have been her most prized possession, maybe even her dowry, and gave it to the Lord. She desired to give everything she had to Him. Worshipping the Lord was costly to her.
It was also costly to her because of the criticisms of those around her. Judas rebuked her for breaking an expensive jar of perfume just to anoint Jesus’ feet. It seemed ridiculous to waste this perfume because all he could see was dollar signs. He said it could have been used to help the poor but we see in Scripture that he would steal from the treasury and he even betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver.
- What is the worship of the Lord costing me in my life? Am I willing to lay down my pride, arrogance, doubt, and unbelief for the Lord? Am I willing to let the crowd criticize me for worshipping the Lord and be considered weird or unpopular? What about my hopes and dreams or fears and failures? What about my whole entire life? What if I gave every aspect of my life as worship to Him? The good, the bad, the ugly – Jesus wants every part of us. Romans 12:1-2 puts it perfectly on how we should lay our lives down as an offering and worship to the Lord.
- So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you. Romans 12:1-2 MSG
- Worship is also costly because to truly worship, we have to be broken. We see that Mary’s anointing of Jesus’ feet took breaking the bottle so the perfume could be poured out. So how do we really become a worshipper? Jon Courson explains that, “You truly become a worshipper when you are broken. When finally you’re at your wits’ end, you humble yourself before the Lord and worship Him. Worship comes from brokenness.” When the trials and hardships of life come, go sit at the feet of Jesus because there you will truly become a worshipper.
Another thing we see from this passage is that Mary anointed his body for his burial before He died. Why do you think she did this? The first time we see her, she is sitting at Jesus’ feet, listening to His teachings. I suspect this was not the only time that she heard Him teach either. Because she spent time with Him, she understood things about Him that others didn’t. She realized that His death wasn’t the end, but that He would rise again. Because she was constantly at His feet, she not only worshipped Him but she had revelation. While she was worshipping, Jesus revealed Himself to her and she understood His plan.
- How true that is for us today. When we sit and take time at Jesus’ feet worshipping Him, He will reveal Himself to us. We will see things that other people don’t see because we take the time to really know who the Lord is. Some of my favorite times are when I sit down to read God’s Word and He takes me somewhere and shows me something I’ve never seen before. He helps connect the dots and reveals His awesomeness once again! I would encourage you to read a study bible or a bible commentary along with the Word to get a deeper meaning behind the Scriptures. Another way is to get a bible with Scripture references in the margins. It will take you to a different passage in the bible and can give a deeper meaning to what you are studying. It doesn’t matter how you study the Word, it’s just important to take the time to sit at His feet, let Him teach you and show you His heart. And then watch what He will do in your life!
Mary. A simple, quiet-hearted woman with a huge testimony to what spending time with the Lord will do for your Christian walk. No matter what season of life she was in – happy, sad, questioning – she was always at the feet of her Lord. Let her story be an example to you of what a true worshipper looks like.
Father, may we be more like Mary, always at your feet in whatever season of life we are in. Give us hearts that worship you when we are happy, sad, or confused. May we stop striving and being uptight over details but learn to sit and delight in your presence. May we sit at your feet during the hard times and let you bring healing to our souls. And through the brokenness, may we truly learn how to be a worshipper even though it may cost us something or we may be criticized by others. And in the midst of worshipping, reveal yourself to us in a deeper, more intimate way. Amen.