We see Mary three times in the gospels, and each time she is in the same posture — “at Jesus’ feet.” When we have our first glimpse within the Bethany home, we find Martha in her characteristic attitude– working and serving; and Mary we see sitting at the Master’s feet, sitting eagerly and listening to His words.
Our second view of Mary is when Jesus came back to Bethany after the death of Lazarus, and the sisters went out to meet Him. Again, we see her at the feet of Christ. But this time in deep sorrow, seeking comfort. And then we observe her a third time. She has come to anoint the feet of Jesus. We find her again, at Jesus’ feet, and now she is honoring her Lord.
She has this peculiar habit, and that is to be at the feet of Jesus.
It is her natural posture. I believe that she feels entirely comfortable in this place. I have personally seen sparrows’ nest on a sheer cliff hundreds of feet straight up, without any apprehension at all. I have been astonished at their daring and simple confidence. And Mary has this spunk. She has that certain easy and confident boldness.
Martha, the oldest, obviously has the theology. We see her taking issue with Jesus, she is questioning, and confronting. But with Mary it seems, there is a quiet contentment and a rest. An open readiness to receive. We don’t see that too much, but Mary was a “learner.” She had become learned in the grace of trusting simply.
The greatness of her love enabled her to kneel.
She was centered on her Master, He was the focus of her attention. We dare not minimize this, or try to focus on something less “holy.” This is not something we can easily duplicate, because it proceeds out of a heart that is absorbed in love. It may appear to be unseemly, and we scratch our head with nervous skepticism. But it seems whenever Mary comes into the presence of Jesus, she works her way to the front– so she can sit with Jesus. (Interestingly, the Orthodox Church regard Mary to be the first real disciple.)
We have so much to learn from Mary. Our Christian life can be very shallow and seem rather anemic. We live in a culture that is racked in intellectualism and pride. When we engage it we may end up with a bit of haughtiness and a lot of selfishness to deal with. Mary can be our compass, and our example as we crash through these issues into authentic discipleship. She really does deserve to be esteemed, and recognized for inspiring us to be with Jesus.
Lord Jesus, thank you for Mary. May I become like her and have you very close. I want to sit at your feet. I choose you. I choose to be with you.