I love finding worshipers in the Bible that we can more easily relate to. People who faced the same choices in life that we still face today – and who made decisions that empowered their worship lives.
We only run into Mary of Bethany (Martha and Lazarus’ sister) a few times in the Bible. And interestingly enough, every single time she’s mentioned, she’s in the exact same place. And I firmly believe it’s that place that compelled her worship.
So before we talk about Mary’s worship, we need to look at what got her there. Because worship doesn’t just happen.
Looking for bio material on Mary, we first find her in Luke 10:39-42 sitting at Jesus’ feet while her sister Martha rushes around preparing dinner. (Poor Martha. I’m going to hunt her down in heaven and give her a hug for the millions of times her awkward moment with Jesus became a teaching point.)
Mary’s “better choice” (via Jesus) at His feet was a place of student to teacher – or even disciple to Master – eagerly receiving whatever treasures He had to offer that day. She was singularly focused on His presence, His voice, and His every word – all the things that prepared her to be His worshiper. And all the things Martha was “distracted” from. (Sorry, Martha.)
Later we see Mary at Jesus’ feet again when her brother Lazarus died (John 11:1-44), only this time she was pouring out her broken heart at the feet of the only Person she knew could help her. There was an obvious close connection between Mary and Jesus that day – the day “Jesus wept” (v.35) – that surely intensified after He raised her beloved brother, and His friend, from the dead.
So it shouldn’t be surprising that what catches the gospels’ writers’ attention next is Mary – again – at Jesus’ feet. (I don’t believe for a minute that they were privy to every time she sat there either.) But this time, it’s different.
“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” (John 12:1-3).
We don’t know how much Mary really grasped what was waiting for Jesus a mere week away. Regardless, she found herself at His now-familiar feet again.
Only this time, she wasn’t clinging to His words or releasing her sorrow. His feet were now a place of offering – of her lavish surrender, generosity, and vulnerability. It was a place where she was compelled to sacrifice from the best of her possessions. (As that perfume came at a cost – rumored to be worth close to a year’s wages!)
Mary’s fragrant offering was one of extreme love and devotion. And as she culturally risked loosening the ties from her hair to wipe His feet, she loosened the ties that held her very heart. She wasn’t holding back!
She didn’t care that others were in the room. In her mind it was just her and Jesus, and she wasn’t letting this opportunity pass. At those feet, she had tasted of His wisdom, His love, and His very resurrection power – among other things. (Can you even imagine?) And her compulsion to respond to all He meant to her was overwhelming in that moment.
And Jesus loved it. He likened it to preparing Him for burial when Judas scoffed at her lavishness (John 12:4-7). Because Jesus knew this was her last chance to be at these feet. “Let her alone” – let her worship Me.
Want to be a lavish worshiper of the Most High God? Find yourself at His feet – often.
Say no to the distraction-of-the-day, and devote yourself to His presence. His voice. and His power-filled word. Embrace Him as your Teacher, Master, Savior, and Friend.
And out of that place, be drawn to His feet to respond in worship to all your Savior’s revealed to you.
Out of that place, sacrifice from the riches He’s given you. What’s valuable to you? What costs something? Your time? Your attention? Your position? Your very life? Pour it out.
Out of that place, unleash your highest devotion. Untie your heart! Don’t hold back!
Give yourself radically to the God who radically gave Himself for you on the cross!
Then picture Him looking lovingly on your loosened heart and the fragrant aroma that’s wafting all about from your offering. And see Him receiving it with joy and saying, You’ve chosen the very best.
Come. I’m waiting. Bring Me your heart. Bring Me your best. This is what I created you for. Worship.
“Exalt the LORD our God And worship at His footstool; Holy is He” (Psalm 99:5).
What inspires or encourages you the most about Mary’s relationship with Jesus or her worship?
God-worship in a self-loving world
Why True Worship Requires Your Surrendered Heart
Do I have a growing appetite to worship God?
Struggle to worship? You may be thirsty!
Getting honest about waiting
What We Miss When We Don’t “Stop”
10 ways to worship with a heart like David’s
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