Thursday, April 12, 2018

Mary of Bethany

Today's lesson is about Mary of Bethany.  Mary is the sister of Martha and Lazarus.  If there is anything that I can say about Mary, it is that I wish I was more like her.  Mary had her priorities in order every time she appears in Scripture.  Her number one focus was the Lord, and she was commended for that.   

Mary's story appears in each gospel (Matthew 26:6-13, Mark 14:3-9, Luke 10:38-42, John 11:1-12:11), and we are going to look at two of them today. 

Luke 10:38-42 
Now as they were traveling along, He entered a village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. She had a sister called Mary, who was seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to His word. But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.”  But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things;  but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” 

"Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission." 

Do I live the way that Mary lived?  Have I chosen the good part? Martha was so consumed with the business of life, but Mary had her priorities in order.  We can learn a lot from Mary and the way she lived her life.  Mary chose the good part – and it cannot be taken away from her.  Everything in this life will go away at some point.  Nothing is permanent.  Except our relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.  That is eternal.  That should be what matters most.  Does it in your life?   

I go through seasons in my life where Jesus is the most important and seasons where work and other things are the most important.  Work will pass. A clean house will pass.  But my relationship with Jesus is eternal.  I need to focus my priorities on God.  I need to choose the good part, just as Mary did. 

Mary's story plays out in John 11 and 12.  This familiar chapter in the Bible is when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead.  This act of Jesus is the last straw, so to say.  This is the act that led Caiaphas, the high priest, to plot to kill Jesus.  So many people were led to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus through this act and the ministry of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus.  In fact, the high priest and his counsel were also planning on killing Lazarus because of his witness and testimony. 

John 12:1-8 
Jesus, therefore, six days before the Passover, came to Bethany where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. So they made Him a supper there, and Martha was serving; but Lazarus was one of those reclining at the table with Him.  Mary then took a pound of very costly perfume of pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.  But Judas Iscariot, one of His disciples, who was intending to betray Him, said,  “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and given to poor people?”  Now he said this, not because he was concerned about the poor, but because he was a thief, and as he had the money box, he used to pilfer what was put into it.  Therefore Jesus said, “Let her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of My burial.  For you always have the poor with you, but you do not always have Me.” 

"Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission." 

This act that Mary performed was an act of worship, an act of humility, and an act of sacrifice.  The amount of money that Judas Iscariot said Mary could have sold it for was about a day's wages during that time.  Mary anointed Jesus' feet with this very costly perfume.  Once again, Mary showed that her priorities were where they needed to be.  She had her focus on Jesus, and she was not ashamed to show it to the world. 

Jesus had commended Mary for choosing the good part – for focusing on Jesus above all else.  Mary was scolded by her sister originally for making this decision.  Mary was scolded by Judas Iscariot for her devotion.  But Mary didn't care.  She knew what was most important. 

Why do we study the women in the Bible? So we can learn how God wants us to live our lives.  How did Mary of Bethany live her life? In complete worship and adoration of God. Mary put God before everything else.  Her priorities were right. She "chose the good part." I know  that I need to make more of an effort to choose the good part.  I know I need to spend more time in my Bible – really studying it and applying it to my life.  How about you? Have you chosen the good part today? 

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