Mary of Bethany is mentioned three times in the Gospels and each time she is at the feet of Jesus. In Luke 10 she quietly sits at Jesus’ feet listening to him. In John 11 she sorrowfully falls at Jesus’ feet because her brother has died. And in John 12 she worshipfully wipes Jesus’ feet with costly perfume and her own hair.
“Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. “
Because of all the time spent at Jesus’ feet, Mary understood that this time with Him was precious and fleeting. While Jesus’ disciples still seemed perplexed by His words about death and resurrection, Mary had already purchased perfume for his burial. In her decision to anoint Jesus in life rather than in death, she used all that she had in an extravagant act of worship. Jesus saw Mary’s very heart poured out before Him. In Jesus’ humanity, I imagine this fragrant reminder of Mary’s friendship, love, and devotion blessed and strengthened Him as He endured the horrors of crucifixion.
Mary’s posture of teachablility, vulnerability, and humility are inspiring examples worth imitating. However, she was criticized by her sister Martha for the wasting of time and by the disciple Judas Iscariot for the wasting of money. Both times Jesus defended her.
“Leave her alone, Jesus replied. 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
In our fast-paced, modern, western world we are obsessed with productivity, accomplishment, practicality, and value. Even as believers it is easy to live a material life that seems divorced from the spiritual. I want to spend my time doing concrete things that can be checked off a list and seen by others. I don’t want to be wasteful. I want to spend my money in exchange for a tangible product, and I want it to be a good deal.
Daily sitting at Jesus’ feet (reading the Bible), pouring out my heart at Jesus’ feet (praying), and worshipping at Jesus’ feet (offering adoration), is hardly ever quantifiable. It isn’t something I can show people I’ve accomplished. It doesn’t always feel productive or practical. But if I believe what I say I believe about Jesus, time spent with Him is the single most valuable thing I can do, for it cannot ever be taken away from me. It is eternal. As Jesus affirmed,
“…only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”Luke 10:42
If Jesus were to come to my home, would I choose simplicity in hospitality so that I could spend time at his feet, or would I be too busy preparing a feast that would impress? If I was overcome with love for who Jesus is and what He’s done for me, would I risk ridicule and social awkwardness to anoint Him with fragrant worship? Would I be extravagant and impractical in offering all that I have to Him, or would I count the cost? I have these same choices to make daily as I steward all that I have, and I pray that, like Mary, I will always choose the better thing that cannot be taken away: Jesus Himself.
Kara is the wife of 20+ years to Caleb and the mother of 5, including 2 through the miracle of adoption. She and her family live on 8 acres, raising cows, goats, chickens, and turkeys, as well as a large garden. She is passionate about hospitality, mothering, the intersection of farm-life and faith, and finding beauty in the commonplace. She enjoys her classics bookclub, walking her country road, and traveling with her large family. She occasionally blogs at goodgiftsfarm.com, but you can keep up with her more regularly on Instagram @good_gifts_farm.