What a nice little family this was. Sisters Martha and Mary and their brother Lazarus. Nice people. Friends of Jesus. He must have looked forward to his visits to Bethany, to enjoy their hospitality, Martha’s good cooking, talking with Lazarus, and Mary… sweet Mary who loved to just sit at his feet and listen. She was so fond of Jesus.
John wrote that this Mary was the one who anointed Jesus with costly perfume and wiped his feet with her hair. It might seem that there were two women that did this, but I don’t think so. The stories in Matthew 26, Mark 14, Luke 7 and John 12 contain so many common elements that I am sure they describe the same incident.
If there is just one woman, then Martha’s sweet sister Mary is the one Luke says was a sinner, the one whose association proved to Simon the pharisee that Jesus could be no prophet. Could sweet Mary actually have been promiscuous? Maybe even a prostitute?
The first time I heard someone suggest this, I couldn’t believe it. So contrary to my picture of the nice little family of Bethany, the upstanding friends of Jesus. But then again, Jesus was accused of befriending sinners. And if Mary was one of those, it’s easy to see why her dutiful older sister Martha might have felt more than a little resentment. It’s also easy to see why Mary so adored Jesus that she could waste her precious ointment on him and mess up her hair. Just the sort of thing a person does when they find forgiveness. I can relate.