Even to Jesus’ disciples, what she did made no sense. The cost was outrageous! She poured more than a year’s income worth of expensive oil onto the Master’s feet. Didn’t she realize how many people she could have helped with that much money? Yet Jesus defended her saying, “Leave her alone, so that she may keep it for the day of my burial” (John 12:7 ESV).
How did she know to make such a sacrifice? We don’t know what Mary heard, but we do know she listened. When we first met her, she sat at Jesus’ feet while her sister, Martha, complained, “Tell her to help me!” (Luke 10:40 NIV).
Instead of rebuking Mary, Jesus replied, “Mary has chosen the good portion, which shall not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:42 RSV).
Then, as Jesus prepared to enter Jerusalem for the final time, He attended a dinner in His honor. Again, Mary was at his feet. This time, she seemed to know better than Jesus’ disciples what to do.
How did she know?
To sit at someone’s feet, according to The Farlex Dictionary of Idioms, is “a position of devotion or worship of someone; to pay homage or reverential attention to someone; to be someone’s pupil or follower.” This definition resembles the Greek word for disciple, mathetes, which means, “a learner or follower.”
When you serve a God who declares, “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:9 NIV), it is wise to listen. You may be surprised what you hear. But it’s important to take care who you’re listening to!
Had Mary listened to Martha, she would have rushed around serving dinner and missed out on what she heard while sitting at Jesus’ feet. If she had heeded the disciples’ rebuke, the lives of the poor could have been temporarily enriched—but she and Jesus would have been robbed of a beautiful gift! If we listen too often to the world around us, or dive into doing what we think we should be doing, we can get off track.
Baking hot cross buns for neighbors, hosting resurrection Easter egg hunts, or even massive helicopter egg drops can be great ways of sharing Jesus with those around you . . . if that’s what Jesus wants you to do. But sometimes, in my zeal to make the most of this seasonal opportunity, I find myself looking like Martha, distracted by the preparations and missing out on what Jesus wants for me. Other times, I’ve been like the disciples, quick to judge those whose actions seemed wasteful.
A disciple is one who learns from and follows Jesus. Listening is a key skill! What beautiful thing might the Lord want you to do this year to celebrate His resurrection? It may not be what you or others expect. Without listening to Him, how will you know? Are you willing to stop and listen?
Deb Entsminger serves with Navigators Collegiate in Florida.