Love Poured Out – Mary Of Bethany
Ron begins his “I Was There” series with a look at the love expressed by the deeply motivated Mary of Bethany. This series of posts recount the thoughts and actions of various individuals before and after the momentous happenings at Calvary.
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Mary of Bethany Prepares For Jesus
The word was out! Jesus would be in Bethany on the weekend to attend a party hosted by Simon the leper. The recently-healed Simon wanted to express his gratitude to Jesus. It would be a grand affair, with all of the social elite in attendance. Her own family members, now celebrities since Lazarus had walked out of his grave a few weeks ago, were near the top of the guest list.
But Mary of Bethany was in a torment of confusion. Thrilled to know the Master would once again be in her little town but disturbed by a sense of impending doom. She had listened to Jesus teach at every opportunity. Recently, He had spoken often of death—His death; death at the hands of the religious leaders; a death that sounded like an execution.
Mary Shares Her Thoughts
She had approached Martha about it, but her older sister, always busy in the kitchen, busy tidying up, busy fetching water, busy preparing food, had not heard the Master’s words. She was no help at all.
She shared her apprehension with Lazarus. He always sat with the men and had been there when she, sitting at Jesus’ feet, had heard the Master say that he must die and be buried. True, He also spoke of resurrection, and given proof of His power by returning life to her brother. But how can a man raise himself? A living man might call forth the power of God to raise another, but a dead man has no voice—no way of calling on the power of God to raise Himself. Lazarus had heard Jesus’ words but, clearly, not grasped them with the clarity she had.
A Growing Consternation
Mary’s consternation about the fate of their Friend grew. The word on the street was that the priests hated Jesus. They feared Him. They wanted to get rid of him—preferably before the Passover which was only a couple of weeks away. The very air crackled with tension.
But this day… This day would see Jesus once again in Bethany with his friends and followers, feasting and enjoying life. Feeling that she was the only one who understood what was soon to come, she developed a plan. She would perform an act of unrivaled devotion to her Master. At the banquet, she would anoint Him with perfume—but not just any perfume. It would be an oil of spikenard. How could she give him anything but the best?
She owed Him so much. Jesus defended her when Martha accused her of impropriety when she sat at Jesus’ feet listening to him teach. (Martha thought her younger sister should have been helping in the kitchen.) He came to the grave of her dear brother and called him back to life. He often spoke of love and, as He scanned His eager listeners, He would pause and hold her gaze for a moment, until she sensed a depth of love that went beyond anything she had known—even the love she saw in her parents’ eyes when she was little. Mary would perform an act of love worthy of the One on whom she lavished it.
Preparing For A Special Evening
Eagerly she went to her hiding place and put a handful of coins into a soft leather pouch. She tucked it under her clothes where it would not be detected. At the perfumer’s shop, she haggled briefly over the price. She did not have quite as much as the man wanted but, in the end, he agreed to sell her an alabaster jar full of the sweetest fragrance known to man for what amounted to a whole year’s payment for labour.
During the rest of the day, she rehearsed what would happen that evening. The men would all be reclined around the big table in the main dining area. The women would be in another room dining separately but keeping their ears open to the words that drifted in from the other room. When Jesus spoke, they would all fall silent.
Mary would choose her moment carefully and, when she thought the time was right, would rise from her place among the women and venture into the other room. As she approached Jesus, she would not pull the stopper, but rather snap the neck of the little jar of perfume. There would be no going back—no saving a portion for some other purpose. All would be poured out in the greatest act of love she could imagine. It would stream over His head and run down into His beard. She would anoint Him as priests were anointed and, at the same time, anoint Him—as one who was dead, yet living.
Mary Of Bethany Lived In Love
Mary knew love. Knew it, not as a fact, but as a person. She was personally acquainted with God’s love in human form. She was already living the teaching of the Master. His followers should love in the same way that the Father loved Him. In so doing, they would abide in His love.
Mary lived in love. Love that would not endure merely to death, but through death. And she received it and responded to it. A little broken jar offers proof of that.
Follow the “I Was There” Series
- Love Poured Out – Mary of Bethany
- Loved To Death – John the Apostle
- The Man In The Moonlight – Judas Iscariot
- When Fear Cast Out Love – Pontius Pilate
- How To Treat Your Enemies – Caiaphas the High Priest
- When Love Cast Out Fear – The Repentant Thief
- He Had Seen It All – The Roman Centurion
- One Last Time – Nicodemus
- Cold And Empty – Mary Madgalene
- You Know That I Love You – Simon Peter
Ron Hughes is the president of FBH International and has decades of experience in Christian mass communications. Recently Ron has overseen the launching of HopeStreamRadio, a Christian internet radio ministry. One of Ron’s passions is writing and he shares this passion with others on his program, “Author Interview.“
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Images Courtesy of:
Mary Anoints Jesus’ Feet – Free Bible Images
Mary Anoints Jesus – Bouts
Spikenard In a Glass Vial – Itineranttrader