Mary of Bethany

Lesson Twelve | Devotion #3: Mary of Bethany
Debbie Kerr | Office Administrator

Broken and Spilled Out

Do you have a favorite Bible character, I mean, other than Jesus? One of my top 10 would have to be Mary of Bethany.  Mary possessed characteristics that I admire and are somewhat relatable to me.  She was a true worshipper in every sense of the word.  I have loved serving in some form of worship music ministry since I was 15.  It has always been my gifting and passion to lead people into His presence through music.  In hindsight, I can see that I did not fully understand what that even meant, or what that required of me.  As I have grown spiritually, I have come to realize that true worship is about “being,” more than “doing.”  It is about abiding in Christ in our heart and life. When we come together corporately in worship each weekend, everything we do is an act of worship, whether it is singing, giving, listening to the Word of God, or loving on each other. In the past 20 years, it is probably thought of most commonly about music.  People love to attend worship concerts by the thousands; it is a huge part of our Christian culture.  Anytime we lift up the name and awesomeness of our God, with a pure heart, it is pleasing to our Heavenly Father.   Mary understood that a life of worship must flow out of our heart and lives as a true expression of reverence and adoration to our great and awesome God.

In John 12:1-7, we get to take a peek in the window of the home belonging to Mary, her sister Martha, and her recently resurrected brother Lazarus. It is Saturday night, and they are having a dinner together known in the Jewish religion as Shabbat, meaning the end of the Sabbath.  Scripture tells us that Jesus was soon to be crucified, but no one else knew.  We find Martha very busy as she was the doer, she was busy preparing and serving and worrying about the meal as Lazarus was seated right next to Jesus. You can imagine the extra preparation and detail she was putting forth because Jesus was in attendance.  Lazarus must have felt great adoration and gratitude toward Jesus because he had recently been in the tomb for four days when Jesus raised him from the dead. Then we see Mary doing what she loved more than anything else, sitting at the feet of Jesus listening intently to every word He spoke.  Scripture describes this family as not having any special ministries, gifts, or positions of leadership and yet they caught the attention and heart of Jesus.  As Jesus taught, He began telling them that He was going to die.  His disciples and the others did not seem to fully comprehend His words, but Mary listened with her heart, and her response was sacrificial and loving.  She quickly got up to find her most priceless and precious possession, an expensive bottle of the best perfume.  She sat back down and proceeded to break the bottle and spill the ointment on her blessed Savior’s feet.  She took her long, beautiful hair and washed His feet with the fragrant mixture.  This was a beautiful picture of her life that had been broken and spilled out for the love of her Lord.  She was criticized by some for expressing her extravagant worship because of the value of the offering.  Many people will not understand a life of complete devotion to the Lord. Jesus gently rebuked the others saying that she was preparing Him for His burial, a direct reference to his imminent death.

The broken bottle of perfume poured out on Jesus is a beautiful picture of a broken life that is lavishly spilled out and used up for Him. I love what the Apostle Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 4:6, I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come.”  Paul died empty; he gave all that he had to the One who had given His all for him. I pray this will be said of me when my time on this Earth is done. I hope this is your prayer, too.  Always remember that God is more concerned with our heart of worship than our act of worship.

Broken and spilled out
Just for love of you, Jesus
My most precious treasure
Lavished on Thee
Broken and spilled out
And poured at your feet
In sweet abandon
Let me be spilled out
And used up for Thee.

~ Gloria Gaither

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