The characteristic I believe God wants to develop in all of us is the ability to live a grateful life.
In the seventh chapter of Luke Jesus is having a meal at one of the Pharisees homes. As they sat down to dinner a women from the town heard Jesus was a guest in the house so she brings her very expensive bottle of perfume that represented almost everything she owned, she knelt down next to Jesus and began to wash His feet with her tears, she anointed his feet with the perfume from the bottle and wiped them with her hair all the while kissing his feet.
Well you can imagine the response the Pharisees had. I am sure they looked at Mary not only a woman but also a woman who had a past, as they looked at her, I can only envision the judgments they began to pass on her. Not only did they judge Mary but also they immediately started to criticize Jesus. Well if this man were a prophet he would know what kind of women this was and not allow her to touch Him.
Judgment kept them from being able to discern the spirit behind Mary’s act. They missed a monumental moment in history because they were to busy judging.
How often are we like the Pharisees? We see something happening and we quickly make a judgment about the person or situation. Judgment is a dangerous thing in the hands of humans. When we judge we lose the ability to discern. Discernment is a gift from God. When we discern we see the spirit behind what someone is doing. This is an important gift when we see the spirit behind something it preserves the person. We can then discern if it is from God or the devil. Its never about the person its about who they are representing in that moment.
Jesus’ response is to turn to Simon the Pharisee and begin to tell him a story about two men. The message Bible reads like this “Two men were in debt. One owed five hundred silver pieces and the other fifty. Neither of them could pay up, and so the banker canceled both debts. Which of the two would be more grateful? Simon answered I suppose the one who was forgiven the most. That’s right said Jesus Then turning to the women but speaking to Simon he said, “Do you see this women? I came to your house you provided no water for my feet, but she rained tears on my feet and dried them with her hair. You gave me no greeting, but from the time I arrived she hasn’t quit kissing my feet. You provided nothing for freshening up, but she has soothed my feet with perfume. Impressive isn’t it? She was forgiven many, many sins and she is very grateful. If the forgiveness is minimal the gratitude is minimal.”
Mary had a spirit of gratitude.
So what does a grateful heart look like? Let’s take a look at Mary.
Mary of Bethany and Mary Magdalene are often confused. Mary Magdalene appeared to be a leader of a group of women that the bible says followed and cared for the needs of Jesus from the beginning of his ministry till his death. She was healed of serious afflictions described as “from who seven demons had gone out”, she was a witness to Jesus’ death and according to the book of John was the first one Jesus appeared to after He arose from the tomb. Mary Magdalene is not the Mary portrayed in the story I just read about the washing of Jesus’s feet. The Mary in this story is Mary of Bethany.
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Anointing of Jesus
Main article: Anointing of Jesus
A narrative in which Mary of Bethany plays a central role is the anointing of Jesus, an event reported in the Gospel of Johnin which a woman pours the entire contents of an alabastronof very expensive perfumeover the feet[Jn 12:3]of Jesus. Only in this account[Jn 12:1–8]is the woman identified as Mary, with the earlier reference in John 11:1–2establishing her as the sister of Martha and Lazarus.
Christ in the House of Simonby Dieric Bouts, 1440s (Staatliche Museen, Berlin)
Six days before the Passover, Jesus arrived at Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him. Then Marytook about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.
But one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, who was later to betray him, objected, “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages.” He did not say this because he cared about the poor but because he was a thief; as keeper of the money bag, he used to help himself to what was put into it.
“Leave her alone,” Jesus replied. “It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial. You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.”
— John 12:1–8, New International Version
Mary and her sister Martha were close friends with Jesus he visited them in their home. Remember Mary sat at the feet of Jesus while her sister ran around busing herself with cooking, all the while judging Mary for making the wrong decision. Jesus affirmed that Mary was doing the right thing, she knew who held the Kingdom of God and how to position herself to receive it.
Mary brought herself low and ceased her work she sat at His feet to signify that He was her master; she humbled herself before the Lord and received the greater thing.
When Mary and Martha’s brother Lazarus became ill, Jesus delayed in coming until Lazarus was dead.
It was Mary that ran out to greet Jesus. She must have been terribly disappointed that Jesus did not make it in time to heal her brother yet we read that she fell at his feet and worshiped him. She appreciated Jesus for who he was, not what He did for her, and she was not afraid to show her gratitude.
It was shortly after this that Mary came to the dinner party and poured the perfume from the bottle on her beloved’s feet. Those around her thought what a waste. Mary knew her beloved and had spent many hours sitting at her master’s feet. It’s at our master’s feet that we learn His voice. I believe God directed Mary to fulfill her destiny by preparing Jesus for what was to come. Mary took the time to know Jesus not just to serve him but also to know him. To sit at his feet and learn from him, to bow down to him and worship him even when it appeared he had failed her. She believed and trusted God. She showed her gratitude to Jesus firstly by ceasing her work and sitting at his feet, by worshipping him in difficult time. Lastly she walked in a room past the fear of man past the judging eyes, her focus was directed at the one who had given her so much. Mary in those moments wasted her life for him. As her tears washed the feet of the one who brought the good news she prepared those feet for the long hard journey that they were about to take to Golgotha. God choose her to anoint Jesus, her love poured out in gratitude for all he was to her. Because she was humble she was exalted by God to be the one to anoint him in preparation for his death.
God poured His grace out on Mary as she poured out the love Jesus had sown into her on so many occasions.
What is Gods grace? Many define it as God’s Richs’s at Christ’s expense which is true and beautiful, but I like to look at it in simple terms “Gods love set free” Grace entails all that God has originally intended for man since the beginning of time, but could not bestow upon us because of what happen in the garden of Eden.
He is now free to pour that grace out on us because of the finished work of the cross. Jesus has satisfied the debt of sin that we inherited from Adam and Eve by the cruel act of crucifixion. God’s love is now free to us who have accepted Him as our Savior.
Do you know that when Jesus went to the cross he took all judgment on his body? If he took it all it means there is no judgment left. Jesus paid in full. God is not judging you so neither should you. You are the Righteousness of Jesus Christ. If that doesn’t sound convincing, think about what the Lords prayer says. Thy Kingdom come they will be done on earth as it is in heaven. We can experience the Kingdom of God here on earth we don’t have to wait for the by and by. I mean really if you belong to God the only thing you should be striving to do is to enter into the rest of God. Realize that 2000 years ago Jesus did everything that needs to be done. All you really need to do is to be sure that you belong to Him. Once you do you can stop struggling to do everything right. Stop focusing on all you should be and start realizing all you are because who you belong to.
Do you have a Mary heart? Are you willing to stop working to please God, instead to sit at His feet and listen to His voice and learn His ways? Are you willing to be still enough to be known by Jesus?
Will you worship Him with a grateful heart even when you prayers are not answered and you loose the things that mean the most to you?
Will you walk past the applause and the criticism of man to waste your life on the only one who can bring you life?
Mary lived a life of gratitude and so can we. I am sure every one wants to hear Jesus tell them that they choose the right thing. So fix your eyes on your master and pour out everything that is precious to you in gratitude for the life he wasted for you.