Mary of Bethany

At the Feet of Her Teacher, Friend, and Lord

When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” John 11:32

Three incidents reveal Mary of Bethany, the sister of Martha, to us, and in each one we find her at the feet of Jesus. The first time she showed her desire to be with the Teacher. Women in those days weren’t allowed to study with a rabbi. But Mary, her brother Lazarus, and her sister Martha had opened their home to Jesus. And because he was a frequent visitor, Mary enjoyed the freedom of sitting at his feet to listen to his teaching (Luke 10:38-42).

In the second incident, Mary is grieving. The sisters had sent word to Jesus saying, “Lord, the one you love is sick” (John 11:3). They surely expected Jesus to come heal him. But there was a delay and no word came. Lazarus died and was in the tomb four days before Jesus arrived.

When Martha heard he was coming, she went to meet him, but Mary remained in the house. After Martha talked with Jesus, she went back and called Mary aside. “The Teacher is here,” she said, “and is asking for you.” When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him (John 11:28-29).

She fell at his feet, sobbing.  Jesus wept (v. 35). His tears weren’t for the loss of Lazarus because Jesus was about to raise him from the dead. Jesus was moved to tears, even to groaning, because of the pain caused by death. Though her pain would only be temporary, he wept. Mary was his friend.

The third incident showed Mary’s devotion to Jesus. Like the woman with the alabaster jar, she took expensive perfume and poured it on Jesus’s feet as he reclined at the table eating. She then took her hair down, something respectable Jewish women didn’t do in public, and dried his feet (John 12:1-3). Mary was a worshiper of Jesus.

How would you describe your relationship with Jesus? Is he your teacher, friend, and Lord? He wants to know you as all three. Spend some time sitting at his feet to eagerly learn. Throw yourself at his feet desperately begging in a time of need.  Kneel at his feet in adoration. He’ll welcome you.


What were the responses of Mary’s friends who had come to the tomb with her (John 11:45-46)? How do you respond to the account of the raising of Lazarus?

What might Mary have thought of Jesus’s reply to Judas Iscariot’s comment (John 12:4-8)? Do you think she’d heard him talk about his upcoming death before this?

Four Marys were involved in the life of  Jesus. Can you identify the role of the other three: Matthew 1:18, Matthew 27:56?

Nancy J. Baker

This devotion is part of a series on Women in the Bible


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