Who was Mary of Bethany?

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Mary of Bethany was the sister of Martha and Lazarus, whom Jesus raised from the dead. The Scriptures first mention Mary in Luke 10:38-42 when Jesus visited their home in Bethany. Mary was so eager to hear Jesus’ words that she sat at his feet to absorb every word and did not help her sister Martha in the food preparation and entertaining. When Martha complained to the Lord about that, Jesus commended Mary saying “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:41,42). The material things in which Martha was so busy with did not have eternal value (Matthew 12:13–21; 16:25, 26).

Mary is again mentioned in John 11 when Jesus raised her brother Lazarus from the dead. After the death of Lazarus, Mary told Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died” (John 11:32). Shortly after, she and many others witnessed one of Christ’s greatest miracles – the resurrection of Lazarus.

Three of the gospels give an account of the story of how Mary poured an alabaster box of sweet smelling oil on Jesus during a dinner that took place in the home of Simon the leper, just a few days before Christ’s crucifixion (Matthew 26:1-6; Mark 14:3-9; John 12:1-8). She was moved by the Holy Spirit to do so, she had originally purchased the box for Christ’s death because He told people He was going to die so she wanted to be the first to honor Him. Sadly, some of the disciples criticized her of wasting her money instead of giving it to the poor. But Jesus defended her saying, “Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a good work for Me. For you have the poor with you always, but Me you do not have always.  For in pouring this fragrant oil on My body, she did it for My burial. Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her” (Matthew 26:10-13).

Finally, Mary was among the first to see Christ after His resurrection. And she had the privilege of being the first to tell Christ’s own disciples that she saw Him and that He was risen (John 20:1-18).

In His service,

BibleAsk Team

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