Of all the disciples of Christ that pass before us in the Gospel story, perhaps none are marked by single-hearted devotedness to Christ more than Mary of Bethany. On the three occasions that she comes before us in the Scriptures, she is found at the feet of Jesus.
We see her first in her sister’s home at Bethany, when Mary sat at His feet as a learner (Luke 10:39). Later, when her brother Lazarus had died, she is found at His feet as a mourner (John 11:32). Lastly, she is found at His feet as a worshiper (John 12:3).
On this third occasion, Mary is found at the feet of the Lord, no longer to receive His words and His sympathy, but to give to Him the worship of a heart that loved Him. In this lovely scene, Mary’s gifts, acts, and attitude all breathe the spirit of worship.
Moved by love for Christ, she does the right thing at the right moment. She might have left the ointment in the alabaster box and presented it to Christ as a gift, but this would not have put the same honor upon Him. Instead, she pours it out upon His feet, and the Lord defends her against those who criticize her act of worship.
Christ was everything to Mary. Christ was her life, and she bows at His feet as a worshiper because of all that He is. She forgets herself, and her blessings, and thinks only of Him. How blessed if, when we come to worship, we could each one lose sight of ourselves and see nothing except Jesus and His glory.
How blessed, too, was the effect of her act of devotion to Christ, for we read, “the house was filled with the odor of the ointment” (John 12:3). Mary’s act of worship was precious to the heart of Christ, and also a sweet fragrance to all who were in the house. That which gives honor to Christ will also bring blessing to others.
—Hamilton Smith, adapted