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Mary: In Tune with Jesus
Jack Klumpenhower

Do you wonder if your life is in tune with Jesus? You and I may try to follow him. But how do we know the things that seem godly to us are really important to him? Well, we can start by looking at one of his best friends, Mary the sister of Martha. There are three mileposts to stop at in Mary’s life with Jesus.

Milepost 1: The Teacher’s feet

We first meet Mary when Martha invites Jesus and his disciples to dinner. When he arrived, Mary sat at his feet and listened to his teaching:

But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.”
But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:40-42).
Mary and Martha show us two ways to relate to Jesus. Martha’s way is good. Preparing a meal for Jesus was a highly commendable service. But Mary understood that all the stuff we do for Jesus, good as it may be, is not the one thing he really wants. He’s looking for a heart trained on him.

My own service to Jesus easily becomes like Martha’s—all about me. I build a record of ministry and, deep inside, I’m desperate for others to notice. You can tell that’s what happened to Martha because she got snippy when her efforts to impress Jesus hit a snag. I’ve been there.

Milepost 2: The angry Savior

We next read of Mary at the death of her brother, Lazarus. Jesus arrived during the mourning period, and Martha met him first, followed by Mary. Both said the same thing: “Lord, if only you had been here my brother would not have died” (John 11:21, 32). Jesus gave Martha some solid teaching about his being the resurrection and the life. He seemed so in control. Then he asked for Mary.

When Jesus saw her weeping and saw the other people wailing with her, a deep anger welled up within him, and he was deeply troubled. “Where have you put him?” he asked them.
They told him, “Lord, come and see.” Then Jesus wept (John 11:33-35).
Here we see how Jesus’ relationship with Mary was emotional for both of them. His heart was as connected to her as hers was to him. Jesus remained angry as he went to the tomb and raised Lazarus to life. The miracle is astounding but the deep emotion from Jesus is perhaps more so.

When I face death I want Jesus to be more than a guy with comforting words. I want him to be the angry Savior, fed up with death and demanding to be shown the grave, raising my loved ones and meto be with him forever. I want what Mary had.

Milepost 3: The priceless perfume

Good for Mary, you might say. She had a real relationship with Jesus. There was face time. There was passion and power. But what does it matter?

Well, six days before Jesus died Mary saw him again at a dinner in his honor. She took expensive perfume and poured it over Jesus’ feet. Others objected to the waste, the way we’d object to someone who wanted to, say, wreck a fancy car for Jesus. Didn’t Mary understand? Wouldn’t the perfume serve Jesus better if it were sold to help the poor?

Jesus replied, “Leave her alone. She did this in preparation for my burial. You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me” (John 12:7-8).
Mary got it right. Indeed, her act makes no sense unless she was somehow aware of Jesus’ true mission on earth—to die for his people. Less than a week to go, and she was the only one who understood. The twelve disciples spent that last week trying to protect Jesus from death, not preparing him to go through with it. They weren’t really any help during his most trying time. Only Mary got it. Only she accepted Jesus’ death and worshiped him for it. Only she did anything to help him along the road he chose to the Cross and the tomb.

Do I want to be in tune with Jesus and his purposes? Do you? The journey begins where Mary’s did, at the Savior’s feet. Time spent with Jesus, in the Bible and prayer, dwelling on his Cross, fosters a heart for Jesus. From there it’s a wild ride, but a good one.

This is part of a series of articles about heroes of the Bible. Next time: Nicodemus.

Jack Klumpenhower is a writer and communications consultant living in Colorado. He has authored Bible study lessons and a family devotional guide.

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Gene Appel
Eastside Christian Fellowship
Fullerton, California

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