Written By Lisa Vitello on her newsletter from long ago New Harvest Homestead
“But there were standing by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother’s sister…and Mary Magdalene” (John 19:25).
I lead a small women’s Bible study every week at the home of my friend Lisa. There are usually just five of us there, and we have all come to treasure the intimate bond we have developed as we search the Scriptures together.
A few weeks ago, Lisa blessed us all beyond measure by comparing each one of us to a woman from the Bible. As she went down her list, it was obvious she had put a lot of thought into what she shared. We were all deeply touched, because she was absolutely right on target in her choice for each woman there.
I was Mary Magdalene. My heart nearly burst when she said this, because I knew that was who she was going to pick for me! Lisa had in mind the story of the sinful woman who showed up at the home of Simon the Pharisee where Jesus was dining one day in the city of Nain. This woman stood at His feet weeping, wiping the tears with her hair and anointing His feet with perfume.
The Pharisees were appalled that Jesus was allowing this sinful woman to touch Him. He then told the story of the two men who each owed money to a moneylender – one a small sum and one a very large sum. The moneylender graciously forgave both men their debt. “Which of them, therefore, will love him more?” Jesus inquired of Simon. “I suppose the one whom he forgave more,” answered the Pharisee. He was correct.
Now, nowhere in scripture does it say that this sinful woman was actually Mary Magdalene. This is an assumption that has been made by some, but we can’t know for sure. When I think of that sinful woman though, I do think of Mary and I deeply identify with her story.
This was not the only woman to worship at the feet of Jesus. We are told that Mary of Bethany, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, sat at the feet of Jesus while her sister stressed herself out serving the meal. On another occasion, Mary anointed Jesus’ feet with oil and wiped it with her hair. For both of these acts of worship, she was commended by Jesus.
In the Gospel accounts of the crucifixion and death of Christ, we again see the women in a prominent role. We are told that many women were there, looking on from a distance. These women had followed Him and ministered to Him throughout His travels. The only disciple mentioned at the cross was John, the beloved. All the others had fled the scene. Again, these women worshiped at His feet – at the foot of the cross this time.
And, finally, it is Mary Magdalene who is ready to anoint His feet again at the tomb on Resurrection morning. She comes expecting to prepare a dead body and instead, finds herself weeping at the feet of her risen Savior. How indescribably wonderful that must have been.
People tend to get all of these Marys mixed up. It’s no wonder. The stories do seem to intertwine and overlap with one another. I guess it is this conglomeration of Marys that touches my heart so intensely. The sinful woman weeping at Jesus’ feet in gratitude; the adoring Mary sitting as His feet listening to His words of life and anointing Him with oil for His burial, and the Mary who is the first to look into the eyes of the risen Christ. They all exemplify a fervency of love and devotion towards the Lord born out of a grateful heart. I definitely relate to that.
As far as we know, these women quietly served in the background, being mentioned only a few times in the Gospels compared to the far greater amount of information we have regarding the 12 disciples. And yet, in the few glimpses we have into the lives of these women, we see the incredible honor Jesus bestowed upon them. These are the ones who stood by Him at His death, and these are the ones who had the awesome joy of being the first to see Him after His resurrection.
Do not think lightly of your calling to be steadfast at home. You, too, are quietly serving in the background of this story in which we all find ourselves. Our Master is still walking through this world today, calling for the lost, binding up the broken-hearted, and speaking His words of life. Only now, He does all of these things through us.
Before we can be fit to “walk as He walked in this world,” we must spend some time at His feet – like Mary – desiring no other thing from Him except to be near Him, hear His voice, and minister to Him. Your quiet days at home will afford you more opportunity for this than the frantic pace at which many others live their lives.
Your service of worship to the Lord, though unnoticed by the world, will be a fragrant aroma to our God, and like the women in the gospels, will result in honor and glory.
And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word.