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Bible Dictionaries

Fausset's Bible Dictionary

Mary, Sister of Lazarus

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(See MARTHA; LAZARUS.) Still, sedate, reflective, as Martha was bustling and energetic. She had whole hearted decision for Christ, and no want of energy where her Master called, arising "quickly" when Martha announced the Master's arrival and call (John 11:28-29). But ordinarily she was receptive rather than active (Luke 10:39-42), hearing Jesus rather than speaking for Him; her grief for Lazarus was deeper but less demonstrative. The friends who saw her suddenly start up from sitting, and who knew her strong feelings, said "she goeth unto the grave to weep there" (John 11:31). When "Martha, as soon as she heard Jesus was coming, went and met Him, Mary remained sitting in the house" (John 11:20). Her faith had been lacking when, like Martha, but without her addition of expression of faith in Christ and the resurrection, Mary said as one who had trusted His love and power, and who cannot understand why then He had allowed her brother to die, "Lord, if Thou hadst been here, my brother had not died" (John 11:21-27; John 11:32).

But Martha, when she came into Jesus' presence, could at once enter into discourse with Him; Mary, when she saw Him, "fell down at His feet." It was the sight of Mary's tears which drew forth His; Jesus conversed with Martha, "wept" with Mary (John 11:23; John 11:33; John 11:35), In John 12:3 she more than makes up for her previous distrust. She too could "serve" and with a higher service than Martha's. She had been heretofore recipient only; now she is lavishly communicative. She brings forth the precious ointment, "kept" treasured for the occasion (John 12:7). She anoints the Savior for burial; rising above the Jews' expectation of an immediately reigning Messiah, she is not offended at His crucifixion, burial, and rising again on the third day (Matthew 26:10-12).

When Judas and the disciples, led by him, objected to the waste of ointment worth 300 pence (about 9 British pounds and 16 shillings) which might have been given to the poor, Jesus vindicated and richly rewarded her: cf6 "why trouble ye the woman? let alone, she hath wrought a good work on Me, she hath done what she could, ye have the poor always with you but Me ye have not always (See Matthew 25:35-36); she hath come aforehand to anoint My body to the burying; wheresoever this gospel shall be preached throughout the whole world, this also that she hath done shall be spoken of for a memorial of her." (See JUDAS.) In John 12:7 Sinaiticus and Vaticanus manuscripts read cf6 "let her alone that she may keep this against the day of My burying"; but the Alexandrinus manuscript supports KJV.

She may not have been fully conscious of the significancy of her act; but He unfolds it to her praise, and her name has been and ever will be cited as an example of self sacrifice to Christendom; so that when John 11:2 was written it had already become her characteristic designation. Needless waste of the smallest fragment (John 6:12) is against God's will; but no expenditure is lavish that is for the glory of God. What seems to the world waste proves in the end richly reproductive to the giver, as well as to the human race. Mary "anointed" Him because He was the Christ; "His feet" because it was for His burial, and it was in His "heel" that Satan "bruised" Him; yet those feet were, because of their bruising, to bruise forever the old serpent's head.

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Bibliography Information
Fausset, Andrew R. Entry for 'Mary, Sister of Lazarus'. Fausset's Bible Dictionary. 1949.

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