In the Gospel of John, we get several unique perspectives and views of individuals and events that aren't seen in the other gospels. Today, we look at one person who the Bible tells us to speak of when we talk about the story of Jesus. Mary was a member of a family that befriended and loved Jesus. Just like John, they were open to receiving Christ's love as well. Mary in particular is known to have been open to receive the love of Christ. In the gospel of Luke, she is marked by Christ as having chosen what was good when she sat at Christ's feet while he taught (Luke 10:38-42). Today, we look at the woman Christ called good, specifically two incidents that made her an example to and for us all.
Pulling At The Heart Of God
In John 11, Lazarus dies. He was the brother of Mary and her sister Martha. He was a man that Christ loved (John 11:36). When Jesus came to their village, both sisters came out to meet Jesus separately. Each had a unique approach to addressing Christ, but both had a similar statement in the address to Jesus:
if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. (v. 21, 32).
It's a statement of mixed faith. They both knew that Christ could have healed Lazarus. Even the other Jews had that faith (v. 37). However, none of them could quite see the clear plan that Christ had in mind (v.15). Even still, we see a difference in the way these people approached Christ about Lazarus' death:
In our lives and walks with God, things will happen and we may wonder where Christ is. Sometimes, when Christ does show up, it may seem to us that He is too late. The financial crisis has already hit. Our children are already living in sin. The health crisis we are going through has reached a fever pitch. Our job is already lost. If Christ would have only answered when we had called first, none of these bad things would have happened.
We can react like the Jews did, sighting all the things we've heard and seen God do but not believing that He can go further. We can be like Martha and try to rationalize our plight rather than seek God for the deliverance that He is bringing. Or we can be like Mary, pouring ourselves out and showing God our vulnerability in full. It's when we act honestly, passionately and open before God that He responds exactly how we need. We can pull at the heart of God just by being like Mary: honest, open and vulnerable before the One who can do the impossible for us.
Having Insight and Knowing What To Do
Mary showed that she was cut from a different cloth again just in the next chapter. As Jesus and the disciples celebrated the resurrection of Lazarus - the resurrection that occurred because Christ was moved by our subject - Mary came in and starting washing Christ's feet. She didn't wash it with water. She doused his feet with costly oil and dried it with her hair.
This action upset Christ's closest followers and even helped to solidify a rift between Judas and Jesus. Mary was accused of wasting a valuable gift that could have helped people right now. Couldn't a woman who had already exhibited knowledge of Christ's desire to do things in the present see she was wasting valuable resources for God's establishing Kingdom? Surely the Master would admonish her for her failing.
However, Christ saw things differently. Once again, he was moved by Mary's understanding of what is good. She did this not just as an offering of thanks for what Christ had done for her brother, though that would have been a great gesture. She did this because she had an insight into what Christ was about to endure. She knew somehow that Christ was about to suffer and die for them all. That insight drove her to anoint him for burial.
Perhaps she had heard Jesus mention his impending death at some point as most of the disciples had, though they consistently dismissed it. If so, she shows herself to be willing to receive every word from God, even those things that didn't sound appealing to her. This testifies to us how we should operate when God chooses to operate in ways we don't agree or understand.
Regardless, though, she saw something that was coming. Her love and closeness to Christ allowed her to see that he was not only going to die, but he was soon to die. Her reaction wasn't to plead with him or change his mind. It was to prepare him for the work that must be done with whatever she could offer. We must do the same.
When we open ourselves up to love God, we may not like everything that He shows us. There may be some actions and ideas that God presents that are difficult to swallow. However, if we respond like Mary, and do whatever is possible to prepare the way for the Lord, God will honor our sacrifice and our commitment to His cause. We can only do this if we first love Christ with our whole hearts and are open to being loved by Him.
The Sacrifice that Inspires
Even John, the disciple Christ loved, did not immediately come to Mary's defense. Perhaps this was the event that propelled him to understanding of what true love for God is? This would be speculation, but we can say that Mary's actions did have an affect, both good and bad, on those present. Judas ran off to betray Jesus shortly after, while the rest of the twelve drew nearer to Christ than ever before. To think, her sacrifice could have such an affect. Most certainly, ours will, too.
People are watching and not everyone will understand when we do the necessary things to prepare the way for the Lord. Some may scoff and others may ridicule, and it might surprise us who does. However, there are those who will see it and eventually understand what we are doing is right. They will see the sacrifice for what it is: preparation for God to do what is necessary. It's those people who may do something that shakes up the world because they saw us do the simple but necessary tasks.
Forever To Be Remembered
Though it is not mentioned in the book of John, Mary's story is one we are commanded to tell when we talk about Jesus (Matthew 26:13, Mark 14:9). Christ has a special place of remembrance for all those who love Him the way that Mary loved Him. The way that John loved Him.
When we open our lives up to be loved by God and to love Him back, we'll find that God will spread our story. He'll put it in the hearts and minds of other followers. He'll make it to where we are never forgotten. There will always be someone to pray for us, our situations, our children and our children's children. Our actions and love towards God will help us in the here and now, but it will go far beyond our own lives and anything we thought possible.
Chris Farris is the author of The Way, a manual detailing how to implement the Beatitudes into your life. He review events and other media and offers other insights into writing and working for the Kingdom of God.