By Mrs. Robert Hammond
Greetings in the Name above every other name—Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Today, I am going to memorialize someone. I am also going to help to fulfill a prophecy given by the Lord Jesus Himself.
A memorial is usually a physical edifice set up to remember someone or something, lest we forget. For instance, if you go to Rock Springs Ranch in northeast Kansas there is a small plaque that is placed there in the basement of one of the buildings in memory of my eldest brother as he was very involved in 4-H and FFA and the camp was used for such at the time of his death over 35 years ago. I saw it when I attended camp there 30 years ago. It was kind of a letdown. It just says in memory of… that’s all.
I sometimes walk through a nearby cemetery and think about the people memorialized there. It is a rather small cemetery and when it was first established, it was in the country. I found a marker of a Confederate soldier. I wonder how he came to Kansas. I wonder about his life.
Today, we gather in memory of Mary of Bethany, the sister of Lazarus and Martha. She is sometimes confused with Mary Magdalene, and some people believe they are one and the same, but I do not believe this to be so. The reasons they give are rather trivial and speculative.
So let us now speak of Mary and what she did to make Jesus say, “Wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman had done will also be told as a memorial to her.” (Matthew 26:13)
It is with great honor that I discuss this with you. First, though, let me introduce you to Mary. She was the sister of Martha and Lazarus. They were all good friends of Jesus. He came to Martha’s house; and even if He wasn’t at her house, but just in the neighborhood, they were there to hear Him speak. Martha would often help and even be in charge of the food service. Mary, on the other hand, could be found at His feet, listening to His every word
…A certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus feet and heard His word. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.” And Jesus answered and said to her, Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10: 38-42
Through this example of simple devotion, Mary has through the years encouraged weary soldiers of the cross to just sit at His feet and wait, and listen to the words of the Good Shepherd. Those words of Jesus about her, “Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away,” have chased away many accusations of spiritual laziness as people have learned to make the Lord their portion and their cup. Thank-you Mary.
We find Mary again in the eleventh chapter of John. She and Martha had sent for Jesus at least four days prior, as their brother was dying, and now, was dead. When Jesus saw Martha, He spoke with her. He told her He was the resurrection and the life. When He saw Mary, He groaned in the spirit, asked where he was buried, and wept. Mary just moved Him in His very soul—the Lord of Glory.
Before we talk about the actual event for which Mary is to be memorialized, let me show you what the disciples, or at least, Peter thought about this particular subject.
In Matthew 16 and Mark 8 it says that Jesus began to speak to the disciples about His suffering, death and resurrection. Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him. Jesus replied with “Get thee behind Me Satan!” And when He was arrested, it says all the disciples scattered.
But then there was this sister called Mary. She was simply someone’s sister. Not even known just for herself. However, Jesus set up a memorial for her. The sister of Martha and Lazarus, with the simple and common name of Mary.
And being in Bethany in the house of Simon the leper, as he sat at meat, there came a woman having an alabaster box of ointment of spikenard very precious; and she brake the box, and poured it on his head. And there were some that had indignation within themselves, and said, Why was this waste of the ointment made? For it might have been sold for more than three hundred pence, and have been given to the poor. And they murmured against her. And Jesus said, Let her alone; why trouble ye her? she hath wrought a good work on me. For ye have the poor with you always, and whensoever ye will ye may do them good: but me ye have not always. She hath done what she could: she is come aforehand to anoint my body to the burying.Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, this also that she hath done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her. Mark 14:3-9
Mary had listened to the Lord. She knew He was going to die. She may have even understood that He would rise again. It says that in Mark 8 and Matthew 16 that Jesus began to tell his disciples that he would die and rise again. So she came to do what she could. She could anoint Him. But only the most expensive perfume is worthy of the King. She did a good work. She acted in faith. We know that because it is impossible to please God without faith. This was an act of faith. Jesus said she did it for His burial. The High Priest was anointed by a woman for the greatest sacrifice in the universe.
Let us remember Mary. Mary…the one who knew. Mary…the one who did what she could when she could. Remember when the women came to anoint His body on Sunday morning? It was too late!! Hallelujah!! But Mary did it at the right time. Praise the Lord. In remembrance of Mary and the anointing of the Paschal Lamb. Lest we forget.