She sat at His feet. Closing her eyes, the words seem to penetrate her very being. The most amazing, peaceful experience she had ever felt was at His feet. More importantly, He allowed her to sit next to Him. How wonderful it was to breathe fresh air. Allowed to listen to a Man of God preach – giving her permission to actively and hungrily listen to words – Jesus of Nazareth sat Mary at His feet. Not only did she learn, but also the Lord had used her precious heart in a powerful way. Mary of Bethany had been chosen to anoint God’s Son before He was crucified.
Matthew Henry, a well-known 17th century minister and bible commentator, writes in regards to Mary of Bethany, “She heard His word. Mary, having the price put into her hands, sat herself to improve it, not knowing when she should have such another. Since Christ is forward to speak, we should be swift to hear.
She sat to hear, which denotes close attention. Her mind was composed, and she resolved to abide by it: not to catch a word now and then, but to receive all that Christ delivered. She sat at His feet. Our sitting at Christ’s feet, when we hear His Word, signifies a readiness to receive it, and a submission and entire resignation of ourselves to the guidance of it. We must either sit at Christ’s feet or be made His footstool; but, if we sit with Him at His feet now, we shall sit with Him on His throne shortly.
Mary had chosen the better part, and it will not be taken from her. She chose to be with Christ, to take her part with Him; she chose the better business and the better happiness, and took a better way of honoring Christ and of pleasing Him, be receiving His Word into her heart. A part with Christ is a good part; it is a part for the soul and eternity. It is a part that shall never be taken away from those that have it. A portion in this life will certainly be taken away from us, at the furthest, when we shall be taken away from it, but nothing shall separate us from the love of Christ, and our part in that love.
It is the wisdom and duty of every one of us to choose the good part, to choose the service of God for our business, and the favor of God for our happiness, and an interest in Christ.”1
Mary’s heart was receptive. Webster’s Dictionary defines receptive as able or inclined to receive; open and responsive to ideas, impressions, or suggestions.2 Mary was a receiver. She openly ingested and partook of our Savior’s manna from heaven. Having a total transformation of life, Mary dedicated her time and energy serving the Lord. She never missed an opportunity to hear, sit, and serve the Lord.
Because of her devotion, her heart pure and precious to Christ, God used this woman to anoint His Son before burial. I truly want you to understand this Scripture. God used a woman to anoint His Son before the crucifixion. This is an amazing verse to me. Of all the people who surrounded themselves with Jesus, of all the disciples and those who followed Him, of all the hearts longing to be with Him, God chose a woman the honor of loving His Son before He died……..
She cupped her hair in her hands and took a long deep breath. Smelling the sweet perfume, Mary smiled and savored the aroma as long as she could. She couldn’t help but smile. The moment was pure. As pure as a devoted love could be offered, Mary gave her King the most prized possession she owned, her heart.
She had knelt before Him. Mary couldn’t remember what drove her to Jesus, just a love that burned within. What could she give Him? What could she give the Man who had stolen her heart? Glancing around the room, her eyes fell on the one item she had saved. Passed down to her, the alabaster jar was full of a perfume. Saved for her wedding day, Mary had treasured and thought of that special moment like young girls do. Breaking the jar for her husband, she had imagined using the fragrance on her wedding day.
Grabbing the jar, Mary had held onto the only physical possession of value. She smiled again remembering the moment she broke the alabaster jar. The nard dripped through her fingers. The oily liquid smelled sweet, like lavender on a cool morning breeze. The perfume permeated the house. Her heart lay bare before all to see – Mary of Bethany anointed Jesus Christ. She did not hear the disciples’ rebuke or the gasp from others, the connection she had at the moment captivated her whole attention. For a moment in time, the two were connected. Jesus and Mary’s hearts were woven together through an offering; His as the atonement for our sins and Mary’s as a devotional love letter written for all to read. She gave her very best, all that she had.
Closing her eyes, Mary tried to imprint the memory on her heart: the breaking of alabaster, the warm liquid in her hands, her wet hair, her salty tears, and the burning in her heart. Like a watermark or emblem embossed on delicate paper, Mary of Bethany spent the night in a heart song imprinting and embossing the moment in her heart. Quietly lifting a prayer to the Lord, her heart singing within her spirit – remembering the special moment between her and Jesus of Nazareth. Cupping her hair in her hands again, she took one long deep breath before she fell asleep. Although the smell would eventually fade, the memory would last a lifetime. “It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me” (John 12:7-8). “She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for the burial” (Mark 14:8).
God knew Mary. He knew her heart. Our Father knew her inner most desires and her love for His Son. Just as God knew His children then, He knows them now. The Lord knows you. He knows when you get up and when you lie down. He knows every part of your life. Of every era that has ever been, of all the time and space recorded in history, you are here. Of all the faces that have walked this earth, of all the hearts that have cried and prayed to the Lord, yours is heard. Of all the tears and pain, joy and laughter, God placed you in this time and in this age. Have you sat at His feet?
Mary of Bethany was used in a powerful way for all to read until eternity. The Lord designed it so, “I assure you and most solemnly say to you, wherever the good news is proclaimed throughout the world, what she has done will be told in memory of her” (Mark 14:9). Her life is an example to all believers. Her identity and character were not wrapped up in marriage, a husband, or a family. Her motives were not to be busy or present a spotless house as her sister, but were to soak in every word Jesus spoke at His feet. Her heart was laid bare for all to see. She gave her very best and the most prized possession she owned, her heart.
As Matthew 5:3 reads, Mary was blessed [spiritually prosperous, happy, to be admired] for she was poor in spirit [those devoid of spiritual arrogance, those who regard themselves as insignificant]. She understood nothing could compare to sitting at the feet of Christ. Above all else, Mary of Bethany prized her heart and relationship with Christ more than anything on earth.
Her identity was rooted and grounded in Christ. A love grew within her heart and cultivated an attitude of humility and grace. Even though rebuked, Mary of Bethany publically declared her love for Christ. No matter what those around her professed, this young woman would love her Savior. Jesus loved her and she loved Him. She adoringly worshiped her King, savoring the moment in her heart forever.
Sitting at the feet of Christ is a privilege. Mary received the position with grace and dignity. She wanted to know Him. She wanted truth. Jesus stirred her heart towards a new life, one where He was the center. Where is He in your life? Is Jesus of Nazareth the center where you publically give your most prized possession, your heart? Have you anointed your King with a sweet aroma of prayers and heartfelt adoration? Have you identified your heart as poor and needy? My prayer is this chapter planted a good seed within your heart – a seed of desire to know Christ, to set your foundation upon Him, and humbly love your King.