Mary of Bethany is a true woman of beauty we can all learn from. All four Gospels contain accounts of her story.
The Gospels do not describe her physical appearance, nor do they reveal if she was a married woman. What her story does reveal, however, is a woman of true beauty after God’s own heart.
Mary of Bethany is the same Mary who sat at the feet of Jesus and hung on every word he spoke while he visited their home (Luke 10:39).
She is the same Mary who wept at Jesus’ feet in total desperation at the loss of her brother Lazarus (John 11:32).
Here, after Jesus powerfully raises her brother from the grave, Mary once again lavishes love on her Savior—at his feet.
“Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.”John 12:3
In this passage, a dinner was held in honor of Jesus. His disciples reclined with him, along with Lazarus. Can you imagine the overwhelming sense of love and gratitude Mary must have felt at that moment?
Her brother was dead—for four days to be exact, and now he feasted with the Messiah, healthy and whole.
In a deep outer expression of the inward awe she felt for Jesus, Mary poured an expensive oil perfume on him that was worth a full year’s worth of wages (John 12:5).
The disciples were indignant, and saw her actions as foolish and wasteful. In his hypocrisy Judas Iscariot claimed that such an amount of money could have been used for the poor, but Jesus knew the true motive of his heart. Jesus saw what Mary did as a beautiful act of worship.
He rebuked the disciples and came to her defense.
“’Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. The poor you will always have with you, but you will not always have me. When she poured this perfume on my body, she did so to prepare me for burial. I tell you the truth, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will be told, in memory of her.’”Matthew 26:10b
Each time Mary of Bethany is mentioned in Scripture, she passionately and wholeheartedly loves Jesus, as if no one else is even in the room. At the feet of Jesus she humbly abandoned her reputation and wealth to draw closer to the heart of Jesus.
She risked everything to gaze into his face, to hear his tender voice, and to express her complete devotion to him.
In her eyes, loving Jesus was worth far more than a lifetime’s worth of wages. He was worth risking everything for. Mary of Bethany reveals the beauty of her soul in the way she demonstrated her love and gratefulness to her Savior.
The worth of Mary’s heart far surpasses the shine and glimmer of the rarest jewels.
She is a woman of true wisdom and beauty.
Is Jesus worth everything to you? Is he worth your time? Your money? Your life? Have you expressed your immense love and devotion to your Savior lately? What “alabaster box” do we need to break in our lives in order to get closer to Jesus?
Draw near to him, and sit at his feet. Drink in his love for you like cool water on a parched tongue. Pour yourself out to him, and allow him anoint you with the sweet perfumed oil of his presence.
You anoint me head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.Psalm 23:5-6
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