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This week you will see Mary “broken and spilled out,” just as Jesus, as she realized, was going to be “broken and spilled out” for her.  I’ve two links for you to augment your study. We are seeing stones being crumbled. If you have been reading but not participating, you are welcome — but if you have had progress with a “stone” — we’d love to be encouraged by your testimony!

Perhaps it is my pride as a woman, but I love it that Mary of Bethany, alone among the disciples, understood what was about to happen to Jesus. The psalmist says “He confides His secrets in those who are open to Him.” She understood He was going to die, and so she took bold action, action that takes my breath away. What broke her idols? The love of Christ. She could give up approval, for He was her approval. She could give up the comfort and security of her savings, for He was her security. And she could give up control and power, for she knew He was King of Kings, and that she was His.

Tim Keller has three sermons on this passage, and it was hard to choose one — each sermon is 2.50 — but the money does go to ministries of Redeemer. This is “Dying to Live”


Then Steve Green’s song “Broken and Spilled Out” has been put to some great pictures by someone and posted on U-Tube. Here is that link. Whoever did the pictures had a good understanding of this passage, and also the Mark 14 version of this story. It may mean more to you after you have studied.


The idols of the heart, the stones that hold us back, are three:

A.  Security/Comfort

B. Power/Control

C. Affirmation/Approval

You will see Mary break all three when she comes to this party to celebrate the raising of her brother.  It is Mark who tells us that the perfume Mary spilled out was worth a year’s wages. This was the family’s wealth, security — but she spills it out and Martha does not complain. There are those who do complain, but that is because their idols are at work. They are using Jesus instead of loving Him.  Be sure to do the study both in John and in Mark — for each writer gives important insights that will stir your soul.

Read John 12:1-2

1. The setting:

A. When did this occur and why is this significant?

B. What is the occasion of the celebration?

C. Who was there?

D. What was Martha doing? How is she the same as we have seen her and how is she different? What does this teach you?

2. Read John 12:3-6

A. Write down everything Mary did.

B. Why does Judas object? Contrast his heart with Mary’s.

3. Read John 12:7-8. How does Jesus defend her?

Read Mark 14:3-9. Though Mary is not named here, I believe it was her, for it was at the same time, just before Passover, it was at Bethany, and the rebuke of Jesus to the disciples is so similar.

4. Here the disciples seem to jump on the bandwagon with Judas, criticizing Mary. What is their criticism?

5. What does Jesus tell them? Does this mean Jesus doesn’t care for the poor? Explain.

(This was a narrow window to bless Jesus on earth, and Mary seized it. I like to think that as He hung on the cross, the fragrance was still on his body, reminding him that there was one who truly loved him.)

Now we can do the same for Jesus by caring for the least of these, for He said, when you do it for those, you do it for me. That’s why I love the pictures in the above U-Tube video that goes with Steve’s Green’s “Broken and Spilled Out.”)

6. What does Jesus say about Mary in Mark 14:8-9? Thoughts?

7. We could say: Go be like Mary, but that would miss the point. Instead, Mary was able to do what she did because her affections were on Jesus. Let us do the same. When Jesus went to the cross, how did it show that none of these three idols were as important to Him as His love for us?

A. How did He give up comfort?

B. How did He give up approval?

C. How did He give up power and control?

8. How does this impact you? Give us your stone reports.

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  1. I wonder if sometimes we mistake a still body with “real” time with Jesus. We read that Mary SAT and we think we need to sit in order to listen. for many years I got frustrated because lots of ‘still’ time was just not an option, i would get up early in the morning and the toddler would hear me, or i would be to tired that night because I had got up so early that i neglected my husbands needs. I rationalized my actions “I need to sit at His feet, I can’t be filled up by him if I don’t spend an hour every morning with him” the laundry would be piled up. kids would need breakfast, my husband was feeling angry and neglected…. but I was spending time with Jesus and they needed to wait. I was the spiritual one, my husband would understand and get up early to have a quite time too if he was as mature as I was….makes me cry to think of my pridful heart.
    a wonderful woman pointed out to me that its the HEART ATTITUDE of Mary not so much the ACTIONS of Mary thats important.
    please dont’ get me wrong. spending still time with Jesus is very important but having your heart on him while your serving you family is just as important, just as beautiful to Jesus.
    what im trying to say is that we can have martha actions and mary hearts and thats OK. God knows how much needs to get done in a day!
    I think he loves my “laundry and dishes and car pool and Bible time with the little ones” prayers just as much as my early morning worship time…..BUT OH DO I LOVE MY EARLY MORNINGS:)

      1. thanks Dee. were you able to find the blog? ferrellchinajourney.blogspot.com

    1. Dee, YES…It is a wonderful movie! I second that in recommending it!

  2. 6. What does Jesus say about Mary in Mark 14:8-9? Thoughts?

    He tells them the purpose of what she has done and promises that she will be remembered for her ministry. I wonder if Mary really planned to anoint His body for burial. I think she knew He was going to be killed because she believed what He said. Perhaps she was heartbroken over what she saw coming and pouring out her heart of love for Him. It is hard to know what she understood about all that was happening. Many times when I read the gospels I am amazed at how little the disciples seemed to understand about Jesus’ real purpose and the fact that He was going to die. But with Mary, I think she knew more than they did. Mary stands out in history not so much because she anointed Jesus for burial but because she was an example of true devotion to the Lord.

    7A. He gave up comfort when He gave up the glorious comfort of presence with the Father to walk the dusty roads of Israel with trying and imperfect people. He loved them so much and because of that their needs had to be painful to him. His weeping with Mary and Martha are a good example of that love. He lived during a time and among a class of people where there we very few creature comforts. At the cross: He was pierced because of our transgression, crushed because of our iniquities; punishment for our peace was on Him, and we are healed by His wounds. Isaiah 53:5. All that He suffered was for love of us. That inspires me so much. For Him I can give up my idols.

    B. How did He give up approval? In life:He was despised and rejected by men, a man of suffering who knew what sickness was. He was like one people turned away from; He was despised, and we didn’t value Him Isaiah 53:3. At the cross He was completely humiliated. In agony He hung naked before those who hated Him, but also before those who loved Him(like Mary). I love the thought of the nard reminding Him of Mary’s love during that time. Who knows how this one act supported His resolve to finish our redemption.

    C. How did He give up power and control? Phillipians 2:5-8 ’who, existing in the form of God, did not consider equality with God as something to be used for His own advantage. Instead He emptied Himself by assuming the form of a slave, taking on the likeness of men. And when He had come as a man in His external form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death—even to death on a cross.

    8. How does this impact you? This impacts me right between the eyes. Jesus told us that we would be treated as He was, so how can I expect to be approved of and comfortable? This changes my whole way of looking at my stones, comfort and approval. I must embrace the giving up of my expectation of these things.

    Give us your stone reports. I don’t know if this qualifies as a stone report but I think it is helpful and an example of changing my mind. Last Sunday when I was in church I was fidgeting and trying to get my hand comfortable because I was having pain from all of the typing I did to memorize those verses. The pain was right through the middle of my hand and I was trying one position after another to relieve it. Then it occurred to me that it must be a minuscule portion of the pain Jesus felt when the nail was driven through His hand and then held His weight-so hard to even think about. But something happened in my mind at that point and I saw it as how minor it really was and as a portion in His suffering. I hope that in this way I can look differently at my idols, rejecting them and embracing life without them.

    Thanks for your prayers the other night. I was able to trust in Jesus and what in the past would have been a sleepless night was not. I slept well all night.