Single Ladies Part 4: Revisiting MaryBy
Mary, Mary, not contrary,
I see how your love flows:
with oil spilled and hair unbound
and a heart that the Savior knows.
Often compared and contrasted with her sister Martha, there is an act of the maid Mary that is “stand alone.” From it we can glean nuggets of truth-gold and fashion them into jewels for our own lives.
The account of Mary anointing Jesus is depicted in three of the four Gospels (John 12:1-8; Matthew 26:6-13; Mark 14:3-9). Read the passages to refresh your memory of the details. In brief, it looks like this:
- Jesus, Mary, Martha, Lazarus, the disciples, and a slew of other people are gathered together in a home. We’ve seen a similar scene before.
- Mary comes to Jesus’ feet. Again, she’s been in that position before. But what she does next is surprising and somewhat strange.
- Mary breaks a jar filled with expensive, fragrant oil and dumps it on Jesus’ feet. And she’s not done yet!
- Mary unbinds her hair and uses it to wipe Jesus’ feet!
With a cursory glance, these appear to be just facts. Albeit some seem stranger than fiction, but we skim over them and accept them and rush on to “more exciting” stories (after all, the trial, crucifixion, and resurrection are just around the corner!). But if we excavate further, we find that there’s depth and richness and gems of great price just below the surface.
Mary gave her dreams. In all likelihood, that alabaster jar contained Mary’s dowry, all she had to offer a husband one day, the entirety of what she could bring to a union. A dowry gave her worth, desirability, merit in society’s eyes. Yet, she poured it ALL out to Jesus, risking everything, holding nothing back. It’s as though she says, “I give You my dowry. I give You my worth. I give You what I’ve held onto. I give You what was intended for a husband.” She loved Him that much. Can you say the same thing to Jesus? Are you ready to step forward and surrender ALL to Him? Your hopes for tomorrow, your worth, those things you’ve held onto as “security”? What is He asking you to pour out?
Mary gave what was precious. She didn’t wipe His feet with her hair because there was a shortage of washrags. In Mary’s culture, the act of a woman unbinding her hair was an intimate demonstration reserved for her husband alone. Pair this with the dowry, and I am even more awed by Mary’s display. Can you grasp what she was doing, what she was saying, what she was giving? Mary LOVED her Savior. Loved Him with a passion and an unrestraint like few of us ever grasp. She came to Him vulnerable, the delicate facets of her heart offered to Him, surrendered, bare, trusting. And He receives it, handles it – handles her – with tenderness and compassion. Maybe the idea of giving yourself, your heart to someone – even Jesus – fills you with fear. But His love is perfect, and it casts out fear. I promise you He will receive you and care for you tenderly and compassionately. Your heart-risk, in Him and for Him, will be rewarded.
Through this entire but brief encounter, a third underlying possibility pulses out its message: She only had eyes for Jesus. Everyone and everything else blurred in her peripheral. Mary gave up her concern for others’ opinions. Even one of the disciples (ahem…”Judas”) had a judgmental word (or two) to say about her act, and Jesus rebuked him. As I picture the scene in my mind, I envision Mary not even hearing the exchange. I think she was so immersed in worshipping Jesus and in His gentle reception of her surrender that Judas’ unwarranted criticism fell dead on her ears. What she heard was Jesus saying, “Leave her alone. It was intended that she should save this for Me,” and that’s all that mattered. He accepted what she offered, and in so doing accepted her. In our worship, in our surrender to and service for Jesus, may our one concern be His approval.
A single woman handing her hopes and dreams over to Jesus.
A single woman submitting all she is to Jesus.
A single woman concerning herself with loving Jesus.
A single example for us all.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Joy Jochems has been in ministry literally her whole life. While Joy is actively involved with her local church as youth ministry coordinator and lends a hand at CWAHM as devotional coordinator and guest contributor, she recognizes that her primary ministry is in her home, to her children. You can contact Joy at firstname.lastname@example.org.