Now for this very reason also, applying all diligence, in your faith supply moral virtue, and in your moral virtue,
knowledge ;

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

An Earthen Vessel

The first time we see Mary, she is seated at the feet of Jesus, listening to Him talk and teach of the things of God. (Luke 10:38) Luke says that Martha, her sister, had invited Jesus into their home. There was a problem because Martha was working hard to serve everyone and Mary sat at the feet of Jesus and listened to Him instead of helping her sister Martha. We all know this story and if you think that this is another teaching about the Marys and the Marthas in the world, you are mistaken.

I want to challenge you to think of Mary as the flesh and blood human being that she was. Her brother, Lazarus, was  a personal friend of Jesus in a different capacity than the disciples.We don't know how Jesus knew this family or for how long  He knew them before the recorded events took place. We can say for certain that Mary was drawn to Jesus and knew that He was incredibly special. She knew that he was capable of healing the sick because the next time we see her in scripture is in John11. Here we find out that the two sisters, Mary and Martha, sent for Jesus when their brother Lazarus gets sick.   Jesus does not go to them right away and Lazarus dies. When Jesus does  arrive in Bethany, Martha says " Lord if you had been here, my brother would not have died" It also says that Martha went to meet Him but Mary did not. Is it possible that Mary and Martha were a little upset with Jesus? They must have known that He could have made it to them quicker than He did. They knew where He was and knew how long the journey took to get to them.  Remember, they were people, women, just like us. It is possible that they had discussed the fact that Jesus had not made it to them in time. Where was He when they needed Him?
At this point in John 11, Martha professes that she still believes that God will give Him anything He asks for and that he is the Christ, the Son of God, but her words in between those professions do not seem to prove that she really believed them .
 She calls Mary and tells her that Jesus is asking for her. When Mary gets to Jesus the scripture says she falls at the feet of Jesus, her grief overcoming her. She speaks the same words that Martha had said to Jesus. "Lord , if you had been here, my brother would not have died"

The Scripture says that Jesus was very moved  and asks them to remove the stone in front of Lazarus's tomb. At this point  Martha, the one who had just told Jesus that she believed that He was the Son of God , protested loudly that by now her brother's body would surely stink. It appears that Mary just watched the whole thing unfold. 
Jesus prays to God the Father that those around Him might believe that He was indeed sent by the Father and He calls Lazarus to come out of his grave. 
Now, fast forward to John 12. Jesus is again eating with Lazarus and his family. Mary comes with a pound of very costly perfume. Mark 14:3 says she "broke the vial and poured it over His head". 

According to Unger's and what I could glean from the internet. This vial or jar, would have been either a family investment, or part of a dowry given to Mary by someone intending to marry her. This pound of pure Nard had great significance. The fact that she broke the container open meant that there was no going back. There was no resealing this container to use on another occasion or to use for another purpose.  Either this was a family decision to honor Jesus or Mary was making a very personal statement to Him. It seems to me that the statement was very personal to Mary. After all, she wipes His feet with her hair according to John 12. 

Is it possible that Mary was very fond of Jesus in every way? She was just an ordinary woman who was fortunate enough in her lifetime to meet the King of Kings. When I started dating my husband, he was a believer in Jesus. I was not. As I got to know him, I could see that he had something that I didn't have. I could tell that there was something different about him so I asked him to take me to church. Now I know that it was the Holy Spirit in his life and it was very appealing. I for one, think that Jesus our Lord, full of the Holy Spirit in human flesh, would be very appealing to the heart of a woman. He was kind and caring to a fault. He healed the sick, fed the hungry and brought her own brother back to life. And in Rev. 19, He is described as the quintessential "Prince" Coming on a white horse for His bride and it says His name is Faithful and True. (which by the way, is where we get all of the stories of the prince coming on a white horse.) What woman does not want "faithful and true"?

I am not writing this to suggest that anything transpired between Mary and our Lord. I'm doing it to make a point. It is very possible that Mary was completely and totally devoted to an earthly Jesus at this point. She could have seen Him as her future. Her all in all. It is also possible that she had her life and future all worked out in her mind. She thought of many scenarios for herself and all of them seemed good if Jesus was going to be in her future. I am basing this on what I would have been thinking if I were her. I would have had the plan all worked out in my mind.

Then what happens? Her Lord, her life, her love,her King of Kings is cruelly murdered. After the death of Jesus, many Marys are mentioned in the scriptures but historians agree that none of them are her. There is no factual basis to the stories that she and Mary Magdalene are the same person. No, after the dinner and the pound of Nard, she fades into obscurity.  

But what if we could see what her life was like after the crucifixion. It is possible that she was completely  devastated. The Chief Priests were plotting to kill her brother (Matt12:10) as well as Jesus and they had succeeded at least, with half of their plan. She and her family would have been put out of the synagog for their relationship with Jesus. Basically, her world would have fallen completely apart. She knew in her spirit that she had been right where God wanted her. She knew Jesus had the words to eternal life and yet, things were  horrible now. Nothing had worked out the way she thought it would. Her life was not going to be what she thought it would be. 
Sound familiar? 

I like to think that Mary heard of the resurrection very soon after it occurred. That she was present for Pentecost and that she, very soon was able to give her Lord and savior the proper place in her life. 
Jesus needed to become the King of her eternity not just the King of her heart.  Hopefully she soon realized that whatever the King of Kings had for her, was enough. That her life was in Him now, seen or unseen. 

It has to be this way for us too. Jesus has to be enough for what ever is happening in our lives. Coming to this point in our relationship with Jesus is a true milestone to measure in our growth as a Christian.

I remember when the Lord spoke His word into my life as I stood in the hallway of a hospital where my youngest daughter lay in intensive care. I was having a discussion with one of her Drs and a nurse rushed out and said that I needed to come right away because my baby was not doing well and they were afraid that she might not live. The situation was dire. I needed to rush forward at that moment but my legs would not move. I was not sure that they would even hold me up much less let me hurry forward. I heard the verse from Job spoken into my heart . "Though He slay me , I will hope in Him" (Job 13:15)

My girl, doing her favorite thing.
At that moment I realized that He was enough for me, not just enough but He was all I needed. He was my King.  He holds my past, present and future in His hands with a greater love than I will ever know from anyone else. 

He gave my baby back to me.When I was finally able to hold her again there was nothing more wonderful. She is 11 now, and we have been through many more hospital stays and surgeries since that day. I still pray everyday that the Lord will complete her healing. But, His love, His sweetness, His power is enough for this woman's heart. "Though he slay me,I will hope in Him"


1 comment: