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The Cloud of Witnesses

Former title Lessons From the People of the Bible


Mary of Bethany

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Lesson 1: Mary of Bethany – Sat At Jesus’ Feet


Luke 10:38-40.

Sat At Jesus’ Feet

The urgent will always rob us of the important.

Martha was a wonderful woman. Our reading suggests it was her home to which Jesus came and Martha was pleased to open it up to Him. As we read the other Gospel accounts, it appears Jesus went there quite frequently and that it was a haven for him, away from the constant attention of the crowd.

What an amazing blessing it must have been for Jesus to be able to turn in there for some down-time with friends. He could, as it were, put His feet up and relax as well as receiving refreshment for whatever lay ahead.

I’m emphasising this for a reason. Martha gets a bad press sometimes. However, Martha was a wonderful woman. She welcomed Jesus to her home and did all she could to make Him feel welcome and to meet all His physical needs.

Many people called Jesus their friend, but Martha was one of the few Jesus could really call His friend. She wanted to give, not just receive, and she wanted to give her best and the best for Jesus. Yes, indeed Martha was a remarkable lady.

However, Jesus lovingly rebuked her on this occasion – why? Because she had miss-understood the meaning of worship. She had miss-understood the meaning of love. We need to learn that love is usually spelt T.I.M.E.

How often today people are so pre-occupied with work (and trying to make money) that their relationships suffer – be it the relationship with their spouse, their relationship with their children, their relationship with friends and their relationship with God.

At the end of their life the cry goes up – not, “Oh I wish I had worked longer hours and harder” but a cry of longing, “Oh I wish I had spent more time with my spouse, my kids, my grand-kids and my friends.” Life is more about relationships than money or achievements, and the sad thing is that relationships take more work and time to build than money or achievements.

Most academic achievements can be secured in under 7 years; many people have made $1m in a similar timescale, but relationships develop over a lifetime. Most children live at home for the first 15 years or so of their life but if we don’t invest our time in them, when they leave all we are left with is a gaping hole that nothing can fill.

We were created to enjoy a relationship with God our Creator. Nothing else will satisfy. Unless we experience a personal relationship with God we have missed the whole purpose of life, and all our hard work and acquisition of things will be in vain. The Bible calls a life like that ‘meaningless’.

Mary shows us the alternative. She sat at the feet of Jesus, learnt from Him and so lived the best life possible. God honours those who spend time with Him. (It’s also good preparation for Heaven – eternity – living eternally with God.)

Mary of Bethany would say to us today...

There is nothing more important in your diary today than for you to spend time with Jesus – reading His Word, the Bible, and in prayer – both talking and listening. Please don’t rush into your day without taking time to give Him the first and best part.


Father, please teach me what is important to You. Please guard me from being sucked into this world’s mould. Help me to realise that as I seek Your face and Your wisdom and direction for my life so my way becomes clear and I feel fulfilled. Please protect me from thinking that spending time with You is wasted time. For Your Name’s sake, I ask it. Amen.

Additional readings

Psalm 1; Matthew 6:5-34; Psalm 119:9-16.


Why do we think we do not have enough time to spare some with Jesus first thing in the morning?

What are the advantages we receive from spending time with God?

How could you make it into a good habit?

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