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At the Feet of Jesus

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Have you ever been at the right place, doing the right thing, yet you were still misunderstood? 

The Bible records three times that Mary, the sister of Martha and Lazarus, spent at the feet of Jesus. Each time, Jesus welcomed her presence. Yet each time, there was a misunderstanding. 

In Luke 10:38-42, when Jesus and His disciples visited Mary’s family in Bethany, Mary’s sister Martha criticized her as she sat at Jesus’ feet instead of helping her prepare the meal.    

But Jesus corrected Martha, telling her that while she was busy with many unnecessary things, Mary had chosen the better thing by spending time with Him. And He said that what Mary chose would not be taken away from her.

The second time we see Mary at Jesus’ feet, her brother Lazarus has died. She and Martha had called for Jesus to come heal their brother. But as days passed without Jesus appearing, Lazarus grew more ill and eventually died. It was day four after his death that Jesus finally appeared.

In John 11:32, we read how Mary fell at Jesus feet in grief, saying

“Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

Such grief of Mary and others truly touched the heart of Jesus, and he wept — even though He would soon ask for the stone to be rolled from the tomb and call for Lazarus to be raised from the dead (John 11:35, 43-44).

Jesus realized — better than anyone — that this state of death was only temporary. So why did He cry? Maybe it was hurt at the pain that death caused those He loved. Maybe it was having those He loved to wonder why He had delayed coming – perhaps misunderstanding His delay as a lack of care. Such misunderstandings of our motives are hurtful, especially when our intent is only for the good.

Finally, in the first few verses of John 12, we see Mary at the feet of Jesus one more time as Jesus and His disciples arrive for a special dinner. Mary broke open a jar of expensive perfume, pure nard, which was worth a year’s wage for most people. And she anointed Jesus’ feet with the precious ointment, while also pouring out tears of thankfulness and worship.

But once again there was a misunderstanding as the disciple, Judas Iscariot — who would later betray Jesus — commented on the wastefulness of Mary’s act. He said that a better use of the oil would have been selling it and giving the money to the poor. But the Bible shares his true, selfish motive, which was to steal the money for himself (John 12:4-6). 

And just as Jesus had previously corrected Martha for criticizing her sister, He, too, corrected Judas. “Leave her alone,” Jesus said in John 12:7, “She did this in preparation for my burial.”  He also noted how the poor would always be with them, but He would not always be with them. So once again, He recognized how Mary had chosen the better option. 

How precious it is to know that Jesus recognized Mary’s true motives and even defended her when others only criticized. And how wonderful that Mary came to better understand Jesus' purpose as she spent time at His feet.

Dear Father, thank You that You see and know the true motives of our hearts. We appreciate that when we spend time with You, we come to know Your heart in a greater way. You desire to spend time with us and yearn for us to share that desire as well. So, thank you, Father, for letting us get close to you. Thank You for loving us enough to bring honor as we sit at Your feet. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen. 


Scripture is quoted from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

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About The Author

Kimberly Poteet

Kimberly has worked at CBN since 2018. She lives in TN with her husband, teen son, and dog. And she has an adult son and a beautiful daughter-in-love. They are a homeschooling family.

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