By Grace Ida Rajan
IN India, falling at some one’s feet can mean two things: it is either intended as an act of respect or a desperate supplication. When I studied the life of Mary of Bethany in the gospels, I was amazed to find her at the feet of Jesus Christ on three occasions – each time her action signified great truths.
Attitude of Learning – Sitting at His Feet (Luke 10:38-42)
In this incident, Mary sat at the Lord’s feet listening to His teachings. But Martha, Mary’s sister, was concerned and deeply worried about fixing a meal for Jesus and His disciples. She was distracted by all the preparations as she was trying to host a big dinner for them. Martha complained. Jesus adjudicated between the women by favoring Mary’s choice of learning at His feet than feeding Him with delicacies. Jesus was a radical here because He negated the prevalent teaching of Rabbi Eliezer who said that a man who teaches his daughter the Jewish Scriptures is teaching her obscenity.
World over women, whether they are professionals or home-makers, spend more time in ‘kitchen.’ Jesus wants us to understand that women have to spend more time learning the Scriptures than getting confined to the kitchen. Sitting at the feet is typical of a disciple who learns from a master. Jesus wants His followers, especially women, to learn ‘one thing’ for sure – to learn things about God and His words in par with men.
Attitude of Faith – Falling at His Feet (John 11)
In the second incident Lazarus, the brother of Mary and Martha, is dead. When Jesus comes to the town, Martha runs to Him while Mary sits at home. After Martha announced to the village about the arrival of Jesus, Mary quickly ran to Him, fell at His feet and cried. While Jesus proceeded towards the tomb Martha, who had only a few moments ago confessed that Jesus was the Messiah and the Son of God, stumbled in her faith by warning Him about the stench from the fresh grave (v.27). Martha confessed her faith with her mouth but had trouble putting her faith in action. Mary, on the other hand, true to God’s promise in Isaiah 28:16, trusted in God and showed her faith in Him by not acting in haste. Her faith came through hearing the Word of God (Romans 10:17).
Mere confession does not account to one’s faith in God. But committing us to His care is accounted as faith. Mary demonstrated this by falling at Jesus’ feet. She remained confident thereafter. In the Old Testament, we read that Hannah was confident and no longer sad after pouring out her heart to God (1 Samuel 1:18).
Attitude of Love – Anointing His Feet (John 12:1-8)
The sisters who received Lazarus back from death honored Jesus by inviting Him home again. As was customary, Martha served Jesus food. Mary noticed Jesus’ feet as He was reclining. Mary, who chose to learn from Jesus by sitting at His feet, knew that His life in earth was coming to a close by death on the cross. Her heart was filled with such love that she poured an expensive perfume, worth a year’s wages on His feet. She wiped His feet with her hair. She knew that these feet would be pierced with nails a few days from then. A true knowledge of God demonstrated by learning at His feet led to demonstration of her faith and love in action. We read how Jesus appreciated Mary’s love and defended her against the accusation of the betrayer, Judas Iscariot.
I draw great strength from Mary’s life. I am motivated to keep learning truths from the Word of God all through my life. It is the enlightenment we derive from His words that gives us faith in God to get through tough situations in life. Learning God’s Word deeply would make us fall in love with Him. We can then look forward to kissing His nail-pierced feet the day we meet Jesus in person!
Grace and her husband Suresh Rajan are part of Charis Seva Mandal which works for the socially and geographically isolated communities.