Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 2 Tim. 2:15

King James AV1611

Lessons For Ladies
This Series was taught by Mrs. James Modlish

Lesson Twenty Three

An Old Story Told



As has been reinforced throughout the evening, the theme of this fellowship is the telling of stories. In fact, it's a theme that is even prevalent in today's newspaper headlines. (Newspaper headline telling about the stories of Pearl Harbor survivors) Actually, each one of our lives are stories in progress; Someone in the future may be telling your story one day as they still are telling the story of the woman in our study tonight. We can only hope and pray that our life story is half as valuable generations later as this woman's.

The Christmas season usually causes us to focus our attention on Mary, the mother of Jesus (as we did last year with "Mary, Did You Know?), but this time would like to direct your attention to another Mary whose love and devotion to Jesus Christ would certainly bear imitating.

John 12:1-9

In pondering Mary's gift to Jesus, I had to ask myself three questions...just what was this gift, how was it offered, and why?

What was the gift?

A. Spikenard ointment in an alabaster box according to the three gospels of Matt., Mark and John
B. Very costly...equivalent to one year's wages for a man of that time. It was a gift fit for a King.
C. Too valuable for her own personal use, but very appropriate for her Lord
[1]. How many times do we "save" the good china for the guests or the best towels for company?!

D. Note that she did not bring her less valuable ointment, that which was leftover and consequently, of less worth.[1]. How many times do we give God our leftover time, money or energy?

I'll read my Bible when I have read everything else there is to read in the house. I'll make it to church on a regular basis if something doesn't pop up to tempt me to change my plans. I'll use my time and talents for the Lord's service after I have expended the best part of them on my own self interests."

[2]. Hoping to develop his son's character, a father once gave him a penny and a quarter as he was leaving for Sunday School. "Now, Peter, you put whichever one you want in the offering plate," he said. When the boy returned, his father asked which coin he had given. Peter answered, "Well, just before they sent around the plate the preacher said, "The Lord loveth a cheerful giver," and I knew I could give the penny a lot more cheerfully than the quarter, so I gave it."
[3]. Surely, the One who gave all for us is deserving of our all.

How was the gift offered?

A. It was an Eastern custom to anoint the feet and sometimes the head of a act of hospitality.
[1]. Mary takes the act one step further in that she uses her hair to wipe the feet of Jesus. This is significant since the Bible speaks of a woman's hair as "her glory." (I Cor. 11:14) She was using her glory to honor His.
[2]. Her method of giving indicated complete submission to her Lord and her recognition of who He was.

B. Her offering came with no ulterior motive; she expected nothing in return.
[1]. This time she was not making a request for her brother's life to be returned to him.
[2]. She was not at this place for the fellowship she would experience with family and friends.
[3]. She was at this place, at this time, purely and solely to bring whatever honor and comfort she could to Jesus.

C. It was offered in the face of criticism.
[1]. Jesus was in a house surrounded by friends, but also with enemies. It might have been hospitable and expected to wash the feet of the guests, but it isn't recorded that anyone else offered to do this. (Psa. 23:5) takes on special significance here as Jesus sets at a table prepared for Him in the presence of His enemies while one who loves Him anoints His head with oil.
[2]. And the most vocal critic, Judas, was the one who would sell the safety of Jesus for a fraction of what Mary's gift was worth.

Why was the gift given?

A. Gratitude -

[1]. Jesus had become a familiar and frequent guest at the home of Mary, her sister Martha and brother Lazarus.

[2]. She was the attentive listener during these visits, much to the chagrin of her sister who was always bustling about.

[3]. Each time we see Mary in the scriptures, she is at Jesus' feet, whether it was listening to Him, falling down at His feet in grief over the death of her brother or, as we have studied tonight, honoring Him with her most valuable possession.

[4]. It was this Miracle Worker who, when her brother had been dead four days, showed His great power and His love for this small family in restoring life to Lazarus.

B. Knowledge -

[1]. Mary obviously paid attention to the words of Jesus in (John 11:25-26).

(a). Prior to resurrection of Lazarus

(b). Her response is perfect and pure.

[2]. Because of this she knew what even the disciples had apparently not grasp. The eminent sacrificial death of her Lord.
(a). Jesus responds to her critics in (vs. 7) with some of the saddest words in the Bible. "...against the day of my burying hath she kept this."
(b). She, more than anyone else present, realized that His death was more important than His birth.


So, in this season of good will and hopefully, the renewed acknowledgment of God's great gift to us, what does Mary of Bethany teach us if we are willing to learn?

[1]. Our love for Jesus Christ is NEVER wasted; we can never give Him too much of our time, talent, lives.

[2]. Proper worship of the Lord will cost you something and rightly so. Talk is cheap; actions speak louder.

[3]. Even though it is wonderful and indeed fitting that we celebrate the birth of Christ at this season of the year, it is far more critical that we recognize His sacrificial death.

[4]. Gratitude is a great motivator. Unthankfulness is an ugly and dangerous thing.

[5]. Real, genuine devotion to Christ cannot be hidden, and the aroma of it will fill the house. (vs. 3) John talks of the aroma, but Matthew and Mark speak of the reward Mary, though not seeking, received. (Mk. 14:8,9) Of course, it is a memorial of just read about it, didn't you??


What better gift for the Lord than the best of you?


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