I imagine you are familiar with the phrase “heroes of faith.” People like Moses, Abraham, Daniel, Paul, Barnabas, John, and—of course—Jesus often come to mind when discussing this phrase.
Within the past couple of months, I have gained a new spiritual hero—Mary of Bethany.
For most of 2013, our house church was studying the New Testament in chronological order using The Daily Bible. About a month before writing this article, we studied together the occasion where Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. Then, a couple of weeks or so afterward, we studied where Mary (Lazarus’ sister) anointed Jesus for His burial with a very expensive bottle of perfume.
Having studied those two events, I had planned on writing this post about my new spiritual hero Mary.
Around the same time, Frank Viola wrote a similar post entitled “Why Mary of Bethany is My Hero.” I recommend reading Frank’s thoughts in addition to mine here.
While Mary is spoken of in several places in the gospel accounts, the occasion where Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead (see John 11) is quite possibly my second most treasured Scripture (currently—the order changes periodically), behind that of Jesus’ own death and resurrection.
In these words, we see the range of human emotion and the divine wisdom and foreknowledge that Jesus had; His love, compassion, friendship, power, mercy, and calm control.
In Lazarus, we get a most beautiful glimpse of the resurrection—the dead being reclaimed and the righteous living with GOD forever.
Let me tell you why Lazarus’ sister Mary is a hero—why I want to be like her.
First of all, Mary saw Jesus’ face, which I long for greatly.
Mary knew Jesus very well—she was His friend and He hers. When Jesus saw Mary weeping over Lazarus’ death, it moved Him to the point of tears (John 11:32-35).
When Jesus was talking, Mary is found at Jesus’ feet (see Luke 10:38-39; John 11:32; 12:1-3). Nothing else—food or serving a meal—seemed important to Mary when Jesus was there. I want to be like that.
Mary had faith that Jesus was able to save her brother. When Lazarus was sick and near death, Mary and her sister Martha sent for Jesus. They called on Him to help in their time of need.
Mary was a giver at heart. No price was too large to pay to honor her Friend and Savior (see Matt. 26:6-13; Mark 14:3-9; John 12:1-8).
Whereas the apostles were unable to understand what Jesus told them about His upcoming death, Mary got it (see John 12:1-8).
Though she played a minor role in Scripture (in terms of the amount written about her), Mary was very important. In fact, Jesus made sure that wherever the gospel was shared, Mary would be mentioned (see Matt. 26:13).
Based on what was recorded of her, Mary was a quiet leader. I imagine, if she were here reading this, Mary would deny that she was a leader at all. Yet her example shines brightly for all to see, and hopefully to imitate.
Mary found a unique way to honor Jesus (anointing Him for burial)—she did what she was able, and Jesus respected and received her gift, rebuking Judas who criticized her.
Jesus said that greatness in the kingdom is found by serving. When I read the Scriptures, Mary of Bethany seems pretty great to me. I look forward to meeting her one day.