In the previous article concerning the resurrection of Jesus, the question was posed, “Do you have a sincere love for Jesus?” To answer, you might say, “Oh, yes, I go to church every Sunday,” or “Sure, I try to do my best and trust Jesus to do the rest.” Well, what does it mean to truly love Jesus; someone who lived two thousand years ago and a half-a-globe away? To understand what loving Jesus is really all about and how you and I might cultivate a sincere affection for Him, we must turn to the Scriptures for an example from which we all can learn. Let’s consider this example of a woman who showed for all of us for all time what loving Jesus is all about. This woman, Mary of Bethany, shows us three things about a person who sincerely loves Jesus Christ.
First, a person who loves Jesus is TEACHABLE. In Luke 10, while her sister Martha is busy preparing a dinner for Jesus, Mary is seen sitting at her Lord’s feet listening to him (vs. 39). The first test to whether you or I love Jesus is our response to God’s Word and Jesus’ teachings therein. Do you or I have a time to “sit at Jesus’ feet” and allow Him to teach us the things of God through reading the Bible? Jesus said that anyone who listened and obeyed His teachings would be like a wise man that built his house on the rock and not on sand (see Matthew 7:24-27). Mary understood the importance of Jesus’ teachings, that they were foundational for her life; so she stopped and listened to Jesus. Jesus also said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (John 14:15, English Standard Version). We must sit at Jesus’ feet to understand the things of God first; then we can practice the things Jesus commands. While her sister was busy making meal preparations, Mary was commended by Jesus for choosing what was better than serving Him. The reason just sitting at Jesus’ feet is the better is because you and I can be like Mary’s sister, Martha, and get distracted by all the serving we do. We can forget why we serve and to whom we serve. Along with grace, the apostle Peter instructed us that we also need to grow in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18). We do that by emulating Mary by humbly listening to Him and respecting Him and His Word.
Next, a person who loves Jesus is THANKFUL. It was at a dinner in Jesus’ honor that Mary, out of gratitude for all He had done for her, gave Him a priceless gift when she poured expensive ointment on His head and feet, and even wiping His feet with her hair. The apostle John tells us that Lazarus, Mary’s brother, was one of those reclining with Jesus at the table of this dinner, and “Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment” and anointed Jesus (John 12:3, ESV, italics added). So it was because her brother Lazarus, whom Jesus had been raised from the dead in John 11, was present at this dinner that Mary gave her gift to Jesus. This tells us that Mary was so appreciative to Jesus and for what He did in raising her brother from the dead that she gave sacrificially to Jesus. Are you and am I appreciative to Jesus for what He has done in our lives? What has He done? The Bible says that “all things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made” (John 1:2, ESV). This means if you exist, you owe your very existence to Jesus Christ. Not only that, Jesus came to die so that anyone who believes in Him would have eternal life (see John 3:16). Mary knew her brother was once dead and Jesus came, called his name, and Lazarus walked out of the tomb. Has Jesus raised you from the dead? The Bible says that because all people are born in sin, each and every person is spiritually dead until Jesus makes us alive through faith. Jesus said, “For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will” (John 5:21, ESV). Mary was thankful to Jesus for what He had done for her; a person who truly loves Jesus will also outwardly show his/her appreciation through sacrificially giving to Him.
Finally, a person who loves Jesus is TRUSTING. After Jesus’ disciples rebuked Mary for “wasting” her expensive gift, Jesus defended her by saying, “In pouring this ointment on my body, she has done it to prepare me for burial’ (Matthew 26:12, ESV). Mary not only listened to Jesus’ teaching, but she also believed Him and visibly trusted in His Word. Time and time again, Jesus promised he was going to the cross and He was going to die. Mary showed she believed in Him and in His words by anointing His body to prepare it for burial. A person who loves Jesus will believe in Jesus and His promises, and then act accordingly. Do you or I outwardly show belief in Jesus and His promises? When it comes right down to it, what other hope do you and I have for forgiveness, for eternal life, for escape from hell, and for a home in heaven? What hope do we have other than the promises of Jesus? When you or I believe in Jesus and trust His promises, we will not only be filled with joy, but you or I will deepen our love for Him. We will then show our love by our obedience to Him; and He will respond by becoming ever more real to our innermost beings. Jesus said, “Whoever has my commandments and keeps them will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him…If anyone who loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him” (John 14:21,23, ESV).
Mary of Bethany is remembered for her priceless gift for Jesus; we too will be remembered for all time when you and I abundantly and affectionately give to Jesus through serving Him as we serve “the least of these” (Matthew 25:40).