(All Scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated)
Three times this phrase is found in the book of Proverbs, and once in Ecclesiastes: “…a merry heart….”
- Proverbs 15:13 – “A merry heart makes a cheerful countenance, but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken.”
- Proverbs 15:15 – “All the days of the afflicted are evil, but he who is of a merry heart has a continual feast.”
- Proverbs 17:22 – “A merry heart does good like medicine, but a broken spirit dries the bones.”
- Ecclesiastes 9:7 – “Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart; for God has already accepted your works.”
In each case, “…a merry heart…” refers to a mindset defined by what is called in Galatians 5:22 and 23 as the fruit of the Spirit: “…the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” (International Standard Version).
But for this Gem, I am engaging in a play on words! Instead of a merry heart, let’s explore what it is like to Have A Mary Heart! The featured Scripture is Luke 10:38 through 42:
Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus' feet and heard His word. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.” And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”
There were three in this wealthy family living in Bethany, a town two miles southeast of the city of Jerusalem. These three were siblings – Lazarus, Martha, and Mary.
- The Lord had a close relationship to these three.
✞ John 11:5 – “Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.” ✞ John 11:11 – Speaking to His disciples, Jesus referred to Lazarus as “...our friend....” ✞ John 11:36 – When Jesus wept at the grave of Lazarus, “...the Jews said, ‘See how He loved him.”
- Jesus and His disciples often visited this family.
✞ Three times in the gospels it mentions the Lord and His disciples were guests at the house of Lazarus and his sisters. ✞ Because Jesus was close to these three siblings, it is probable that there were more visits than the three mentioned, perhaps many more!
- They were an ‘upper-class’ family!
✞ Luke 10:38 – They had a large enough dwelling to accom- modate the Lord and His entourage for extended stays. ✞ John 12:1 through 3 – They were wealthy enough to gra- ciously feed and entertain all thirteen of them (Jesus and His twelve disciples). ✞ John 12:3 through 5 – A ‘snapshot’ of their wealth is when Mary anointed Jesus’ feet with a jar of pure nard worth three hundred denarii! (A denarius was one day’s pay for the common laborer. So three hundred denarii would be a full year’s pay!).
The personality of the three siblings:
- Lazarus – was the one Jesus raised from the dead! (read the account of this amazing miracle in John chapter 11).
✞ In the male-dominated Jewish society of the time, Lazar- us might have been the one who made the family decisions, and the (successful) financial moves. I say, “...might have been...” because Martha seems to be portrayed as the dominate personality of the three! ✞ He, being called “...our friend...” by Jesus (see John 11:11), meant Lazarus would be seated close to the Lord (implied in John 12:2 where it says he was “...one of those who sat at the table with...” Jesus). ✞ Other than being well-known because he had been resurrected, Lazarus is not presented with an outstanding personality!
- Martha – may be the predominate family member who took charge!
✞ Her possible preeminent place in the family is shown thus: ➔ In the first verse of our featured Scripture, Luke 10:38, it is written, “Now it happened as they [Jesus and His disciples] went, that He entered a certain village [Bethany]; and a cer- tain woman welcomed Him into her house.” I want to emphasize “...HER house...”! In light of the afore-mentioned “...male dominated...society...,” this identification is quite unusual! ➔ In John 11:5 it says, “Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.” Notice that Martha is named first, and Mary is not named at all! ➔ But in John 11:1 we are told, “Now a certain man was sick, Lazarus of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha.” Here Mary is named first! ✞ Martha obviously had the Spiritual gift of serving! ➔ John 12:2 – “...they made Him [Jesus] a supper; and Martha served....” ➔ Romans 12:7 (International Standard Version) – “If your gift is serving, devote yourself to serving others.” ✞ However, she comes across as overly focused on serving; which suggests, she was not doing it for the glory of God! She was serving because “...somebody has to do it!” ➔ Luke 10:41 – “...Jesus...said to her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things.’” ➔ Luke 10:40 and 42 – “...Martha was distracted with much serving...,” even neglecting what Jesus called “...the good thing...” of sitting at the Master’s feet and learning as He taught! (see Luke 10:39). So, at least on this Luke 10 occasion, Martha was settling for second best! ✞ Yet Jesus revealed to her first and alone one of His greatest teachings! ➔ John 11:25 and 26 (Jubilee Bible) – “I AM the resurrection and the life; he that believes in Me, though he is dead, yet shall he live; and whosoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Believest thou this” ➔ John 11:26 – Martha was one of the few who comp- rehended who Jesus really was: “Yes, Lord, I be- lieve that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”
- Mary – She was a thoughtful and spiritual person!
✞ Luke 10:39 – “...Mary...sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word.” ✞ Luke 10:42 – Jesus commended her when Mary chose to lis- ten and learn from Him, saying, “...one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.” ✞ John 12:1 through 3: ...six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was who had been dead, whom He had raised from the dead. There they made Him a supper; and Martha served, but Lazarus was one of those who sat at the table with Him. Then Mary took a pound of very costly oil of spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fra- grance of the oil. ➔ Several times Jesus had hinted to His followers, or told them outright, that He was soon to suffer and die! (see John 13:33; 14:25; Matthew 16:21; 17:22, 23; 20:17- 19 – Mark and Luke also relate the three listed in Matthew). But from the disci- ples’ reaction, Christ’s followers just didn’t get it! (see Matthew 16:22 and 23). ➔ ...all except Mary! When she poured that very expensive pure nard oil on Jesus’ feet (on His head, according to Matthew 26:7 and Mark 14:30 and the disciples began to criticize her, Jesus rebuked them, saying “Let her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a good work for Me.... She has come beforehand to anoint My body for burial.” (Mark 14:6 and 8). Mary understood that Jesus was going to suffer and die! ✞ How did Mary know when so many others did not see it? She sat at Jesus’ feet and listened to Him as He opened the prophetic Old Testament passages concerning Himself! These passages, such as Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53, spoke quite plainly of the Messiah’s suffering and death!
Now, consider again the title of this Gem: Do You Have A Mary Heart? A heart (mind, spirit) like Mary’s that will direct you to…
- …choose “…that good part…” – focusing on Jesus, and not too intently on the multitude of tasks that beckon you!
- …sit at the feet of Jesus and learn from His Word!
- …understand who He is and why He came from heaven to earth! “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Luke 19:10).
- …worship Him!
- …give Him our very best gifts!
The best thing about having A Mary Heart is you will someday hear the most wonderful words ever from the lips of your Savior and Lord:
“Well done, good and faithful servant!”