A Sister Called Mary by Scarlett Stough

Jesus issued an invitation during a public prayer: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:25, 28-30)

Martha, her sister Mary and their brother Lazarus accepted Jesus’ invitation by issuing one of their own. Martha opened her home to Jesus and his disciples any time they needed or desired their hospitality. Jesus and his disciples often stopped at their home. Mary chose to sit at Jesus’ feet so she could listen to and learn from Jesus: “She [Martha] had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.” (Luke 10:39)

In the following excerpt from a Sabbath Morning Companion published April 4, 2008, Lenny Cacchio made an observation: “Every time we see Mary of Bethany, she is at Jesus’ feet. In Luke 10 she sits at his feet learning the ways of God. In John 11 she falls at his feet in honor and worship. And in John 12 Mary is anointing his feet in an act of service.” (Luke 10:39; John 11:32; 12:3) [For the complete essay “Mary of Bethany,” see the Abundance of the Heart of this issue of Women in Christ.]

Mary models obedience to the invitation that Jesus issues to us all. She followed his example of humility; she learned from him; she came to him in worship and service. Her actions model for us how we can follow Jesus. She is teachable, willing and eager to learn from him. Even in her grief and disappointment over her brother’s death, she acknowledges Jesus’ power and authority over death. She is willing to lay aside her dignity and to go to great expense to worship and serve Jesus by pouring perfume on his feet and by wiping them with her hair.

Jesus offers rest for our souls, but this is not the rest of inactivity. This rest is the peace that comes from trusting him to teach us, to care for us, and to strengthen us. This rest involves commitment to laying aside our anxious labor for temporary physical needs and wants and focusing on joining Jesus in his labor for the eternal kingdom of God. As individuals and as a body of believers in a local congregation, we can follow Mary’s example to learn from Jesus, to worship him, and to serve him in his work of reconciling man to God and man to man. Mary was able to make this commitment because she humbled herself. She became humble in heart.

For the Scripture References and related Bible Study Guide, go to Bible Study Guide: Humble in Heart.