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10. Mary of Bethany

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A Word from Kay Daigle on how to use the resources for this studyI want to encourage you to complete the personal lesson below before you click on any of the accompanying elements that may be found with this lesson (audio lecture, manuscript, PowerPoint, or handout). This study was written to help you maximize your personal spiritual growth. That means that you first spend time with God through His word, and then hopefully, discuss what you learned with a small group of women. After that, if you want to hear the audio (or read the manuscript) and follow the PowerPoint, filling in the handout, then that is a great time to do it! I cannot cover all the verses in depth, but you can read and study them for yourself. It is best for you to think through the passages before hearing what anyone else thinks, even me! You will find some lessons without lectures. At our church we use some of those weeks to spend extra time in our small groups sharing life stories, having a longer prayer time, or expressing how God is working in our lives.


Mary’s story is one of love. From the first time we meet her through her last appearance in the gospels, we see the impact that she makes because of her love for Jesus.

A Precious Word from God

“And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.” John 12:3 NASB

One of those who had the privilege of knowing Jesus personally while He walked on the earth was Mary of Bethany. Look at a Bible map in the back of your Bible or in a Bible atlas to discover the location of her home Bethany.


Day One Study

Read Luke 10:38-42.

    1. Contrast Mary and Martha’s actions.

    2. How did Martha try to manipulate the situation? (10:40)

    3. Put yourself in Martha’s place. How would you feel about Mary? Why?

    4. Read John 15:4-5. How do these verses relate to Jesus’ words about Mary?

    5. Read the commendations and criticisms that Jesus gave the church at Ephesus in Rev. 2:1-7. How do they relate to Mary and Martha?

  • Diamonds in the Word: Read through all the letters to the churches in Rev. 2:8-3:22. What is God saying to you as He speaks to the churches?

    6. Sharing question: You may have studied this passage many times; however, it is easy to fall back into old sins. Meditate upon Jesus’ comments concerning both Martha and Mary. At this point in your life, are you a Mary or a Martha? What is God saying to you personally?

    7. Responding to God: Confess your tendencies to be Martha rather than Mary.

Day Two and Three Study

Feel free to study this all at once, or divide it after Question #12 and take two days.

Read John 11:1-16.

    8. What crisis occurred and how did Mary and Martha’s respond?

    9. How do you reconcile what 11:5 says about Jesus with his delay in going to Bethany in light of His words in 11:4, 15?

    10. What do you learn from this passage about God’s timing in answer to prayer?

    11. Sharing question: Share with your group a story of a delayed or unexpected answer to prayer. How did you feel through that situation?

    12. Responding to God: Talk to God about the ability to see kingdom goals to prayer as more important than immediate relief from the situation.

Read John 11:17-44.

    13. Write down any insights you have into Mary’s words to Jesus in this passage.

    14. Knowing that He was momentarily going to raise Lazarus from the dead, Jesus wept. What seems to move Him to weep? (11:33, 34) What does this reveal concerning Him?

    15. Sharing question: Share about a time in your life when you dealt with a time of weeping or grieving. What was your attitude toward the Lord at that time? What do you learn from Jesus’ weeping here that will help you next time you grieve?

    16. What does this story reveal about Mary?

  • Diamonds in the Word: Read what your commentaries say about John 11.

    17. Sharing question: This experience surely changed Mary in some way. Relate an experience in your life when God’s activity resulted in a permanent change in your relationship with Him.

    18. Responding to God: Write a prayer or poem praising Jesus as your resurrection and life.

Day Four Study

Read John 12:1-8.

    19. Describe the scene and Mary’s actions.

    20. Sharing question: Sacrifice comes from deep love. Assess your love for Jesus. Do you love Him so much that you are willing to sacrifice as Mary did? Why or why not?

    21. Contrast the reactions to Mary’s actions.

Read the other accounts of this story in Matt. 26:6-13 and Mark 14:3-9.

    22. What additional details do you learn from these passages?

    23. Compare Paul’s words in Gal. 1:10 with Mary’s actions.

  • Diamonds in the Word: Compare the story found in Luke 7:36-50 with this one. What details suggest that these are two different stories?

    24. Sharing question: What do you learn for your own life from Mary’s sacrifice?

    25. Responding to God: Ask God for such a deep love for Him that you would sacrifice anything.

Day Five Study

Review all the passages about Mary.

    26. Looking back at the order of the stories, do you see any progression in Mary’s spiritual journey? How?

    27. What qualities do you see in Mary? Be sure you give specific examples of each.

    28. Review the A Precious Word from God this week. Mary sacrificed an expensive possession to honor the Lord, and everyone there was impacted by what she did. Record any additional thoughts you have concerning her actions.

    29. How do you see God working in and through Mary’s life for His timing and His purposes?

  • Diamonds in the Word: Is there another woman of the Bible whom you think we missed (and we probably did!)? Look her up and think through how God used her.

    30. Sharing question: Review the table of contents and skim the lessons. What has God done in your life through the study of these women of the Bible? Spend some time assessing what God has done.

    31. Responding to God: Thank God for the ways that He has spoken to you through the study of women of the Bible. Ask Him to use you for His purposes in such a time as this.

This story is about being public with faith, as Mary publicly anointed Jesus. In Jane’s case she received a positive response!

Jane’s Story

One time I was on an airport shuttle bus. I was the last person off, and as I left I gave the driver a gospel tract and said, "This will tell you how you can know for sure you're going to heaven when you die." She took the tract and kissed my hand!! I said, "I assume there's a prayer request behind this." She indicated that there was, but didn't tell me what it was. I assured her I would be praying for her. When I got to the airline terminal I turned around to acknowledge her again; she was looking my way and we exchanged smiles. The whole situation was so touching; it was definitely a divine appointment.

Related Topics: Character Study, Curriculum

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