Who was Mary of Bethany?


By BibleAsk Team

Mary of Bethany

Mary of Bethany, a key figure in the New Testament, is often recognized for her profound faith and unwavering devotion to Jesus Christ. Although she is mentioned in the Bible in relatively few passages, her significance in the life and ministry of Jesus is profound. In this exploration, we delve into her life, examining her encounters with Jesus, her distinctive acts of worship, and the lessons her story imparts to believers.

Early Life and Family Background

Mary of Bethany is believed to be the sister of Martha and Lazarus. The trio resides in the village of Bethany, situated near Jerusalem. Their home becomes a notable setting for various interactions with Jesus, and each sibling contributes uniquely to the narrative.

The First Encounter: Luke 10:38-42

One of the initial glimpses into Mary’s character occurs in Luke 10:38-42, where Jesus visits the home of Martha and Mary. While Martha is preoccupied with serving, Mary sits at the feet of Jesus, absorbing His teachings. Martha expresses her concerns about Mary’s apparent neglect of domestic duties, but Jesus commends Mary for choosing the “good part.”

Luke 10:42 (NKJV): “But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.” This encounter foreshadows Mary’s inclination towards spiritual matters and her desire to prioritize the presence of Jesus.

Lazarus’ Resurrection: John 11:1-44

The friendship between Jesus and the siblings deepens in the account of Lazarusdeath and subsequent resurrection. Mary’s grief over her brother’s demise is palpable, and her encounter with Jesus during this sorrowful time showcases her profound faith.

John 11:32 (NKJV): “Then, when Mary came where Jesus was, and saw Him, she fell down at His feet, saying to Him, ‘Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.’” Jesus, moved by her grief, performs the miracle of raising Lazarus from the dead, reinforcing the significance of Mary’s connection with the Savior.

Sacrificial Worship: John 12:1-8

One of the most iconic moments featuring Mary of Bethany unfolds in John 12:1-8, where she anoints Jesus’ feet with a costly fragrant oil. This act of worship and devotion elicits mixed reactions, particularly from Judas Iscariot, who questions the seemingly wasteful use of resources.

John 12:3 (NKJV): “Then Mary took a pound of very costly oil of spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil.” Jesus defends Mary’s actions, commending her for understanding the impending significance of His death and burial. This poignant gesture symbolizes Mary’s sacrificial love and recognition of Jesus as the Messiah.

Resurrection Morning: Matthew 28:1-10

On the morning of Jesus’ resurrection, Mary of Bethany is again present, this time at the tomb. Alongside other women, she receives the angelic proclamation of Jesus’ triumph over death.

Matthew 28:8 (NKJV): “So they went out quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to bring His disciples word.” Mary’s role in announcing the resurrection underscores her unwavering commitment to Jesus even in the face of the most profound challenges.

Lessons from Mary of Bethany

Mary of Bethany’s life provides rich lessons for contemporary believers. Her willingness to prioritize Jesus over societal expectations challenges us to reevaluate our own allegiances. Her acts of worship inspire us to express our devotion to God in sacrificial ways. Additionally, her resilience in the face of loss and her unwavering faith in the resurrection encourage us to trust God’s sovereign plan, even when circumstances seem bleak.


Mary of Bethany, though mentioned in a handful of passages, leaves an indelible mark on the biblical narrative. Her intimate moments with Jesus unveil a woman of profound faith, sacrificial love, and unwavering devotion. Whether sitting at Jesus’ feet, anointing Him with expensive oil, or standing at the empty tomb, Mary exemplifies a life wholly surrendered to the Savior.

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In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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