Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“You, through Your commandments, make me wiser than my enemies, for Your words are ever before me. I have better understanding and deeper insight than all my teachers, because Your testimonies are my meditation…How sweet are Your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!”
“O taste and see that the Lord our God is good! Blessed is the one who trusts and takes refuge in Him.”
Taste and See
“God’s Word tells the power there is in it, for whoever will.
And whoever will let it change the life, and meet the need of the life, will love it.
A thing is dear to us in proportion to our appreciation of its worth.
She who knows the power of God’s Word in the personal life when the way is
difficult, loves it. We don’t know whether a thing is sweet till we taste it, nor
whether it is loveable till we test it.”
S. D. Gordon
Today’s Study Text:
“And she (Martha) had a sister named Mary, who seated herself at the Lord’s feet and was listening to His teaching.”
“The Fragrance of His Presence” Part 3
“On My Feet or At His Feet”
“Never let the urgent, crowd out the important.”
Kelly Catlin Walker
If I made a list of daily priorities, how high on that list would spending time with Jesus be?
When Jesus arrived in Bethany, how did Mary react?
Do I think Mary felt guilty for spending time with Jesus instead of working in the kitchen?
“So often we have the mistaken idea that the more things and activities and relationships we have in our lives, the more meaningful our lives will be. Ironically, the converse is often true. An overabundance of commitments and involvements actually tires us and drains the meaning out of even the richest experiences.”
A Place Called Simplicity
Who knows how the message got to the home in Bethany but it did! Jesus was stopping by. Just think for a moment how you would have felt if you were notified that Jesus was coming to your home for lunch today. I know it would be the most exciting event I could ever imagine happening. And since I love entertaining, I’m certain I’d grab my best dishes and pull out my tried and true favorite recipes. All this and more actually happened in the house of Mary, Martha and Lazarus. However, before we begin to partake of the sumptuous meal, I’d like to invite you to enter the “gathering room” as I choose to call it. In Bible times, this part of the home was where the men-folk gathered and contemplated the weighty matters of the day – politics, religion and business were most likely topics which may well have been discussed.
Whenever I think of men gathering separately while the ladies take their leisure, my mind turns to the famous movie Gone With The Wind. There is well-known scene when the men, riled up with the thought of war, gathered in the mansion’s “library” to debate the contentious issue while the women retired upstairs for a nap.
But as they say, there’s always one in the crowd who boldly flaunts social
conventions and in the case of the story of Tara, it was Scarlett O’Hara who broke every accepted rule. This is exactly what we find in the story of Mary, who upon Jesus’ arrival, made herself comfortable at His feet.
In order for us to view a clear picture of what took place in Bethany’s hospitable respite, we must take a moment to understand the historical “place” of women at the time when Jesus walked the earth. In spite of the historical significance of women like Miriam and Deborah and Huldah and Ruth and Esther, and many others as well – female stand-outs who followed God’s calling upon their lives – by the time our Redeemer came to earth, a woman’s life was not valued much at all. In Middle Eastern culture at that time, women were looked upon as property – their father’s and then their husband’s. This lack of esteem for women is better understood in light of the fact that Jewish rabbis started temple meetings with these words, “Blessed art thou, O Lord, for thou has not made me a woman.” With this type of expression, we may easily conclude that a woman’s place was definitively lower than a man’s. What’s more, when it came to religious life, women were not even taught the Torah.
This is why, when Jesus came to earth, His ministry was viewed as revolutionary. As author Philip Yancey observes, “For women and other oppressed people, Jesus turned upside down the accepted wisdom of His day. According to biblical scholar Walter Wink, “Jesus violated the mores of His time in every single encounter with women recorded in the four Gospels.”
With the cultural position of women as our backdrop, I want to go back into the room where Jesus began to share and teach, as was His routine. I haven’t found a better descriptive portrayal of that particular day than the words of commentator Matthew Henry: “It seems, our Lord Jesus even before entertainment was made for Him, addressed Himself to His great work of preaching the Gospel. He presently took the chair with solemnity; and Mary sat to hear Him, which intimates that it was a continued discourse.” We should note “a good sermon is never the worse for being preached in a house; and the visits of our friends should be so (conducted) as to make them turn to a spiritual advantage.”
Then author Henry continues with this insightful thought, “Mary, having this gift put into her hands, sat herself to improve it, not knowing when she should have such another opportunity.”
It is the particular idea, expressed by Matthew Henry, that Mary and those around her wanted to soak up all of Jesus, which really struck a cord in my heart. The Scriptures don’t give us every detail on how Christ made the acquaintance of this family in Bethany, however, something resonates in my thoughts. The idea that this wasn’t the first or only time Mary had listened to Jesus really seems like it may well have been exactly what transpired. Mary may have well been among many of the crowds who came to hear Jesus’ message. And as time passed by, she longed for more of Jesus. It’s interesting how that happens in your life and mine as well. There’s not a satisfaction with a “little bit of Jesus.” The fact is that once you taste of Him, the longing or craving for Him only becomes more profound. No wonder the Psalmist expressed his feelings with the words, “O taste and see.” As Marjorie Milne shares:
“Teach me, O Lord,
to love Thee with my whole heart,
to desire nothing but Thy will,
to be content for ever in Thy presence.”
Do you want to be fragrant with the presence of Jesus? Well, it isn’t that difficult if like Mary, you and I choose to sit at His feet – to come into His presence and to lean into Him – His aroma will fill us in such a way that we will not only be a witness for Him, but we will want even more of Him.
Mary purposed that in her life, as Matthew Henry so perceptively uncovers, she wouldn’t just get a word from Jesus here or there, instead as Henry points out, “Mary resolved to receive all that Jesus delivered. She sat at His feet, as scholars at the feet of their tutors…Our sitting at Christ’s feet, when we hear His word, signifies a readiness to receive Jesus, and a submission and entire resignation of ourselves to His guidance…If we sit with Jesus at His feet now, we shall sit with Him on His throne.”
During the 1800’s, a wealthy Frenchwoman, Madame Leseur kept a personal diary which revealed her Christian convictions. After she died, her husband found and read her diary and he was converted to Christ. In this volume entitled, My Spirit Rejoices; The Diary of a Christian Soul in an Age of Unbelief, Elisabeth Leseur penned these inspiring words: “I desire one thing only – the accomplishment of Thy will in me and through me. I follow and desire more and more to follow one end alone – the gaining of Thy greater glory by the realization of Thy designs for me.” If this is the yearning of your heart, then let’s take Mary’s path. Rather than constantly being on our feet doing what we want to do, let’s take the time everyday to stop and sit at Jesus’ feet.
“Sitting at Your feet, you’d think I’d learn each day seems to teem with failure, discouragement and letting everyone down, especially You. But You know what I appreciate? That with You all things are possible. That I can trust You even if I am fickle. And that though my promises falter, You, the ‘Covenant-Keeper,’ will always keep Your word.”
(The above poem was penned by one of my dearest friends. We met when just 17 years old, attending summer school to get ahead in our classes to become Registered Nurses. Martha’s dedication to God and those she serves who have to be on dialysis in order to live has remained a constant – through the years – something I greatly admire.)
“Sitting at the Feet of Jesus”
“Sitting at the feet of Jesus,
Oh, what words I hear Him say!
Happy place! So near, so precious!
May it find me there each day.
Sitting at the feet of Jesus,
I would look upon the past;
For His love has been so gracious,
It has won my heart at last.
Sitting at the feet of Jesus,
Where can mortal be more blest?
There I lay my sins and sorrows
And, when weary, find sweet rest;
Sitting at the feet of Jesus,
There I love to weep and pray;
While I from His fullness gather
Grace and comfort every day.
Bless me, O my Savior, bless me,
As I’m waiting at Thy feet,
Oh, look down in love upon me,
Let me see Thy face so sweet;
Give me, Lord, the mind of Jesus,
Keep me holy as He is,
May I prove I’ve been with Jesus,
Who is all my righteousness.”
Except for initials J.H.
“Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker; for He is our God.”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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