Hospitality is an art. Making sure a guest is welcome, warmed, and well-fed requires creativity, organisation, and teamwork. Their ability to accomplish these goals makes Mary and her sister Martha one of the best hospitality teams in the Bible. Their frequent guest was Jesus Christ.
For Mary, hospitality meant giving more attention to the guest himself than to the needs he might have. She would rather talk than cook. She was more interested in her guest’s words than in the cleanliness of her home or the timeliness of her meals. She let her older sister Martha take care of those details. Mary’s approach to events shows her to be mainly a “responder”. She did little preparation – her role was participation. Unlike her sister, who had to learn to stop and listen, Mary needed to learn that action is often appropriate and necessary.
We first meet Mary during a visit Jesus paid to her home. She simply sat at his feet and listened. When Martha because irritated at her sister’s lack of help, Jesus state that Mary’s choice to enjoy his company was the most appropriate response at the time. Our last glimpse of Mary shows her to have become a woman of thoughtful and worshipful action. Again she was at Jesus’ feet, washing them with perfume and wiping them with her hair. She seemed to understand, better even than the disciples, why Jesus was going to die. Jesus said her act of worship would be told everywhere, along with the gospel, as an example of costly service.
What kind of hospitality does Jesus receive in your life? Are you so busy planning and running your life that you neglect precious time with him? Or do you respond to him by listening to his word, then finding ways to worship him with your life? It is that kind of hospitality he longs for from each of us.
Strengths and accomplishments:
- Perhaps the only person who understood and accepted Jesus’ coming death, taking time to anoint his body while he was still living
- Learned when to listen and when to act
Lessons from her life:
- The busyness of serving God can become a barrier to knowing him personally
- Small acts of obedience and service have widespread effects
- Where: Bethany
- Relatives: Sister: Martha. Brother: Lazarus
Key verses: “When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial. I tell you the truth, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her” (Matthew 26:12, 13).
Mary’s story is told in Matthew 26:5-13; Mark 14:3-9; Luke 10:38-42; John 11:17-45; 12:1-11.
©Kingsway International Church 1973, St Barnabas.