As I listened quietly to the soft rain that was falling outside the bedroom window, I heard the Father speaking softly to me. He said, “One day soon, all the world will see.” I reflected over the past few weeks, the goodness of God, and how the Holy Spirit of God reveals all hidden truth and shows us things to come. I reflected on the course of events over the past six weeks and how the mercy and grace of God are overwhelming, and how God positions people around us to give us comfort, encouragement, and support.
As I lay there with tears of joy running down my cheeks, I sensed the sweet presence of Jesus. I heard the Father speaking to me about how Mary, the mother of Jesus, wept at the feet of Jesus as he gave his life on the Cross. Then there was Mary, the follower of Jesus, who knelt at the feet of Jesus, holding onto every word He spoke with an intentional and listening heart. It was as if I were watching the crucifixion in my mind and I could see the women weeping and kneeling beneath the feet of Jesus at the Cross. Then I saw the empty tomb. Then I began to think about what it is going to be like when Jesus comes back for us.
The Bible says, “Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene” (John 19:25). Matthew 27:56 (Mary, the wife of Cleophas, the mother of James and Joseph). They were also the first witnesses of the resurrection.
There are several women who accompany Jesus to the cross and tomb. These are the ones who didn’t abandon Jesus when trouble arose. The multitudes who were singing praises a week earlier had deserted Him, but not these women. While it may be hard to determine who all was there, because they were all named Mary, one thing is for sure…they were there for Jesus.
The Bible says, “Many women were there, watching from a distance. They had followed Jesus from Galilee to care for His needs” (Matthew 27:55). These women had been with Christ throughout His ministry, and had followed Him to the cross to encourage Him through this hard time. Can you imagine the comfort Jesus must have felt to look down and see all those sweet ministering women, that have been faithful over the years, there lamenting and mourning His death?
Are we that type of encouragement to those hurting around us? Do we walk through the valley and deep waters with someone, or do we bail when the waters start rising and the fires of trouble start burning? God wants us to stand by each other, encourage each other, and pray for one another. You never know what it means to someone who is hurting or walking through a hard time, for you to show up to be a support and encouragement.
If you have ever sat beside the bed of a loved one, waiting to hear them speak after surgery, you will know and understand what I mean. If you have ever sat in a hospital waiting room for what seems like endless hours…waiting for the surgeon to come out and tell you everything is ok, you will better understand. Whether you are waiting at the feet of a child in a hospital bed, beside your husband or wife, or a friend or family member, you understand the emotions that come with it. Waiting for someone to come out of surgery can seem like eternity.
While we are waiting for Jesus’ return, He wants us to be present. Any of us can be too busy being an activist….always doing and never present. It would be like having a meal with a person who is always on their phone talking with someone else. While many things are good, the one thing Jesus seeks above all else is time spent listening to Him, “sitting at His feet.” That is where peace is found…the only place of spiritual rest. If we want to experience spiritual rest, we must be willing to shift our priorities to Jesus. Instead of trying to follow the Holy Spirit, we must surrender to Him.
Let’s look at Mary of Bethany….she is one of the most beautiful characters in all of Scripture. We can learn valuable lessons from studying her life. Mary was the sister of Martha, and her brother was Lazarus whom Jesus raised from the dead. We see Mary three different times in the Bible. The incident that happened in the home of her sister Martha (Luke 10:38-42), where Jesus, and the disciples who traveled with him, were being entertained. Martha was distressed and “distracted with much serving” and frustrated that her sister wasn’t helping that she actually rebuked Jesus, accusing Him of not caring that Mary sat at His feet while she did all the work.
Pay attention to Jesus’ first response that gives us valuable insight into the life of Mary at Bethany. Jesus commended her “for choosing the better.” This simply meant that Mary’s desire to be near the Lord and hang onto His every word was far more beneficial than running herself into a frenzy preparing and planning for an event….a meal. Jesus also said that choosing the better thing, learning of the Lord, would not be taken from Mary.
“Choosing the better” also meant that those whose priority in life is Christ, the knowledge of Him, and the nearness of Him have chosen what will last for all eternity…..such as the “gold, silver and costly stones” referred to in 1 Corinthians 3:11-12. We learn that those who are distracted with the cares of life, the mundane preparations and planning and earthly, are building upon the foundation of Christ with “wood, hay, and straw,” materials which will not stand the fires that come to us in times of testing, nor will they be remembered in eternity. The insight we gain into Martha’s heart when she rebukes Jesus is that she was consumed with making everything perfect and was so distracted that she forgot and lost sight of whom she was speaking to…who was in her presence.
We can also observe from Mary’s silence in another incident, a lack of concern for herself, and from defending herself. She was fully consumed with Jesus. When we focus on Jesus, He becomes our greatest passion, adoration takes over the heart, and our tendency in life to self-absorption fades away.
Mary listened while Martha labored. Martha was distracted by plans and preparations (Luke 19:40a…..while Mary was focused on the Person of Jesus Christ…only one thing is needed (Luke 10:42a). Jesus puts a person’s allegiance to following Him higher than any other human responsibility.
We can learn the valuable lesson of taking comfort in Jesus in the second incident where Mary and Martha appear in John 11, with the raising of their brother Lazarus from the dead. When Mary hears that Jesus has come and is calling for her, she immediately leaves the group of people who came to mourn, and rushes to meet Jesus. So great is Mary’s love of Jesus and her desire to please Him, that she leaves her home and all those who had come to comfort her, to place herself in the arms of her Beloved Jesus…the greatest Comforter mankind has ever known.
Jesus sees her sorrow and weeps alongside her…even though He knows her brother will be restored to her momentarily. When we choose to place our lives in the loving nail-scarred hands of Jesus, we find the greatest comfort, peace, and security. We learn the truth of Psalm 30:5b: “Weeping may endure for a night, buy joy comes in the morning.”
The third and final time we see Mary of Bethany is days before the crucifixion. (See Matthew 26:1-6, Mark 14:3-9, John 12:1-8). We see Martha busy again…with another meal prepared at the home of Simon the leper, and Martha serving while the resurrected Lazarus reclined at the table with Jesus and the disciples.
This is where Mary broke an alabaster jar, poured the expensive perfume on Jesus’ head and feet, and wiped them with her hair. We learn that in spite of criticism from some of the disciples, Mary said nothing. She allowed Jesus to defend her. Jesus said her beautiful and unselfish act of service with the perfume she had kept for His burial would be remembered forever.
Mary knew the time of Jesus’ death was near, a fact that the disciples had missed in spite of Jesus’ clear and concise declaration of the truth. While Mary was content with listening to the Lord and meditating on His Words, the disciples were busy bickering about who would be the greatest among themselves in the kingdom. They missed the important truth Jesus was teaching them (Mark 9:30-35) because they were focused on self, rewards, competition, status and their reputation among men.
God has preferences on the way people respond to Him and worship Him. All forms of worship are NOT equal in God’s eyes. In the case of Jesus, putting on a great dinner for the Master doesn’t compare to listening to Him and obeying Him.
Mary’s priority was Jesus…sitting at His feet, learning from Him and holding onto His every Word. She had a passion for Christ, a settled confidence and conviction in her Lord….in such great measure that she was not compelled to defend herself in the face of criticism.
Mary did not give what was of little to no sacrifice. Her worship was personal and costly. Instead of waiting till He was gone to show her devotion, she poured out a year’s worth of work on her Savior’s head and feet. This was an act of pure love. You see, she had been listening. All that time at Christ’s feet, holding onto every word, did not go to waste. She knew what Jesus was about to face…that He must die. She knew the turmoil that He had predicted. Oh, what passion and great love she had for Jesus. She wasn’t thinking of the cost; she didn’t care what people might say. She didn’t care about how it looked. She was concerned with one thing, and one thing alone—Jesus Christ.
Like Mary, who knew what Jesus must face, how He went to the Cross for all mankind; we must know that one day soon, all the world will see…Jesus coming back again.
If we make sitting at the feet of Jesus our priority, we can experience, like Mary, the passion for Christ, the depth of understanding, and have complete faith in His plan for our lives. May we be passionate people of God with contagious faith, whole-hearted devotion, and a zealous fervor to show God our love…and to shine the light of God to the world.
BOOKS BY DEBORAH STARCZEWSKI
GOD’S PRICELESS TREASURE (How To Overcome Challenges, Be Transformed and Know Your Purpose)….move from drama to destiny, pain to purpose, a mess to a message…trials to triumph through turning to Jesus Christ.
A LEAP OF FAITH (25 Days At The Mercy Seat)….the miraculous stories will keep you turning the pages…and give you faith to believe God for anything.
THE MIDNIGHT HOUR (Will America Turn Back To God?)…a must read for all.
Available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, www.starministriesinc.com and other distributors.
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