My favorite chick in the Bible, hands down, is Mary of Bethany. You might remember her as the one who was sitting at the Lord’s feet, while her griping sister was throwing pots and pans around in the kitchen.
Or maybe you remember her famous brother even more. He’s Lazarus, the guy Jesus called out of the tomb after days of building up dead-man’s stink.
But I remember her best for her alabaster jar of pure Nard. About a year’s wages, that’s what it was worth. She, a single woman in a patriarchal society, who would not have had a source of income. Possibly even her life savings. This was no ordinary gift, it was likely the most costly thing she owned. And she slathered it on Jesus. Anointed Him for burial.
There’s a lot that could be said about this story. There’s a lot that I could say about it (I told you, she’s my favorite lady in Scripture). But what I really want to say about it tonight is this: John is the only one of the Gospels that her story is told and she is specifically named. This story is recorded in 3 of the 4 Gospels (the first 4 books of the New Testament). There is a similar story in the other one, but I am confident that it is speaking of a different girl enacting a similar act of worship, for totally different reasons and at a different time in Christ’s life, with a different audience. But that is for another blog post.
Right now, I want to zero in on John. I don’t think it’s an accident that he intentionally names her. I think John and Mary both got something that few (even Christians) get.
I think he names her because she shares his affection for the Lord, and his understanding of Christ’s affection for him. Both of them seem to uniquely tap into the heart of God, the treasuring, lavishing, adoring, kind and compassionate heart of God that wells over in love and acceptance of His broken people! Mary is the one sitting at Jesus’ feet, looking tenderly at Him, ignoring the chiming dishes in the kitchen, while her sister complains and chastises. Mary is the one who saw Jesus’ tears sparkle at her own anguish over the death of her brother. And Mary is the one who is so filled to the brim with adoring love towards Christ that she breaks her incredibly expensive bottle of gloriously fragrant perfume and lavishes the love that He’s given to her back towards Him.
John gets it to. You may recall that the entire book of John, he only refers to himself as “the disciple whom Jesus loved” and he is the one with his head resting on Jesus’ chest, reclining blissfully at the Passover table.
Both of these saints received and overflowed with the love of Christ. Everyone else was on a mission, but they were adoring! And Christ took pleasure in them and in their restful appreciation of His deep and abiding love for them.
So, yeah, John names Mary. It’s like he’s saying “Yo, this isn’t any ordinary woman. This worship is from a receiver’s heart, one who knows the breadth and depth and height and width of Christ’s loved toward her and has been filled to overflowing! She’s the one.”
Thank you, John, for pointing that out!