And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.” And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:39-42)
Mary of Bethany
- Mary of Bethany was a young, single woman that lived a life of extravagant devotion to Jesus.
- Mary is pictured in the New Testament three times, and all three times, she is seated at the feet of Jesus and hearing His words.
- The Mary of Bethany calling is an anointing that transcends gender and age. This is for men and women of all ages. It is rising as we get nearer to Jesus’ return. When you are walking in it, it is not the only thing your life is about, but it is the primary thing. Which is to sit at His feet and His hear His word.
- Martha was Mary’s older sister. In Luke 10:40 we are told that Martha was distracted with much serving. She complains to Jesus appealing to the practical needs of everyday life.
- Jesus does not correct Martha for serving. He corrects her for serving with the wrong spirit. She had an anxious and troubled spirit that was bothered with many things. Much of the church is struggling with a Martha attitude, lacking the heart connect with God, which would enable serving from love, rather than religious man-pleasing.
- The “Martha-mentality” keeps us from real close relationship with God, and leaves us with empty activity. It is birthed out of good intentions but true anointing comes from knowing the Father, Son and Spirit through prayer. True love touches those around us and causes them to want what we have.
- Our American culture has taught us to measure success by quantity, not quality. We need to abide in the vine, in order to have fruit that remains.
One Thing is Needed
- No one served with greater focus and humility than Jesus, yet it is He – the Servant of servants – that says the necessary thing is a life of devotion, not service.
- Jesus does not say this is the only component of our lives. Other areas are not cancelled out. He says that a life of devotion is the necessary thing above all else. There is nothing to compare to this one thing.
- God will not choose for you. Love must be a voluntary response, or it is not love.
- King David set his heart in the same way that Mary of Bethany did. He was ruling the nation, running the government and the army; and yet he desired this one thing above all else.
- One thing I have desired of the LORD, that will I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in His temple. (Psalm 27:4)
And being in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper, as He sat at the table, a woman came having an alabaster flask of very costly oil of spikenard. Then she broke the flask and poured it on His head. But there were some who were indignant among themselves, and said, “Why was this fragrant oil wasted? For it might have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.” And they criticized her sharply. But Jesus said, “Let her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a good work for Me. For you have the poor with you always, and whenever you wish you may do them good; but Me you do not have always. She has done what she could. She has come beforehand to anoint My body for burial. Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her.” (Mark 14:3-9)
Devotion Demands a Response
- In the days just before Jesus would go to the cross, Mary of Bethany understood what He was about to through. She had heard Him speak of His coming sufferings while sitting at His feet.
- Mary’s response to Jesus’ coming sufferings was to anoint him with costly oil worth a year’s wages – most likely her inheritance and only livelihood. She poured herself out in the most extravagant way she could. This was the best response to the extravagance with which Jesus was about to pour Himself out.
- The disciples had also spent much time with Jesus, yet they did not understand when He spoke of His death. When Mary anointed Jesus, they became indignant and accused her of wastefulness.
- Jesus vindicated and honored Mary for her response to His words. He recognized a like-heart in her extravagance. He did not despise her gift. In the same way Mary seems to be the only one who understood that Jesus was about to suffer; Jesus seemed to be the only One who understood what she had done for Him.
- Mary’s extravagance was not merely symbolic; it was an actual economic extravagance with far-reaching repercussions upon her future. The day she anointed Jesus was not solitary in its extravagance. Her extravagance on that day, came out of a lifestyle of devotion to Jesus.
Devotion is Extravagant
- The more devoted our hearts grow towards Jesus, the less we will seek to give minimally. Extravagant devotion begets extravagant giving. The extravagant heart asks how much can it give, not how little it can give. True devotion is not sparing.
- Extravagant devotion cannot be swayed by the fear of consequences.