Bible study, Mary of Bethany, purpose

Word Wednesday: Don’t Send Her Away/ Aphiemi


Painting by Lauren Lee, a modern "Mary"
Painting by Lauren Lee, a modern “Mary”


An excerpt from A Mary Like Me.


….The aroma of baked matzo and roasted lamb filled the room as Martha dished up the food. They were celebrating the new life Lazarus received from Christ just a chapter ago. This meal was a great celebration of life; music playing, wine flowing, and laughter filling the home. Until, that is, Mary brought her gift to her Rabbi, the man she and her family recognized as Messiah.

Perhaps she entered the room with eyes facing the floor. Her hands cautiously carried the most valuable article from her dowry. No one noticed she had walked in until she began to pour the perfumed oil over the feet of Jesus. The smell of the oil was strong, and its intoxicating fragrance drew attention to the one pouring out her gift.

All eyes fell upon Mary.

John writes: “Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume, she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped His feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume” (John 12:3).

Oh, how slowly and carefully Mary poured that oil as she gently anointed Jesus. Her head was most likely uncovered as her hair fell upon Jesus’ feet, and she wiped them with great care. John didn’t mention tears, but I do imagine Mary crying as she prepared Yeshua for burial.

Though we assume Mary anointed Jesus out of a grateful heart for the restored life of her brother, there was much more in her heart than thankfulness; she was performing this beautiful demonstration of love in preparation for Jesus’ death.

It was Jesus who informed the gaping crowd of her purpose. Jesus justified her gift, “It was intended that she save this perfume for the day of my burial” (John 12:7).

Her perfume wouldn’t be used on the night of her wedding nor for a gift to the poor.

Her gift was for Jesus.

Her purpose that night was beyond anything Mary herself could comprehend.

The Messiah defended her actions when immediate accusations and disapproval came from Judas and other dinner guests. I love how Jesus protected Mary. This is the second time He came to her defense. First with her sister, this time from one of His own disciples. One of the Twelve. And, just as he’d done previously, Jesus rebuked Mary’s antagonistic naysayer. He said to Judas, “Leave her alone” (John 12:7).

Our three English words are employed to translate the ancient Greek admonition, aphiēmi (af-ee’-ay-mee).

The definitions I found for this Greek word were: “Don’t send away” or “Don’t dismiss.”

You could argue that “leave her alone” implies the same translation, but I believe “don’t send her away” indicates that Jesus isn’t merely protecting her from the bullies; He is recognizing the importance of her presence in the room. Just as He recognized the value of her presence at His feet as a disciple.

If Mary’s presence was valued by Jesus, I believe our presence is also. Does this speak to your soul?

[tweetability]What would it mean to have Jesus recognize and defend your attendance in a room?[/tweetability]


The same Jesus who recognized the value of Mary’s company, recognizes ours.

Jesus doesn’t tolerate our presence; He didn’t just tolerate Mary. He desired for her to be there, and He acknowledged her gift as one of significance. He knew her purpose. He is the same Savior today as He was that night in Bethany. And we are no different from the defiant, rebellious, bitter, beloved gift of God called Mary.*


What would it mean to have Jesus recognize and defend your attendance in a room?


With Joy,



ps. The winner of The Key-Word Study Bible Give-Away is Chrissie Pittari! Congratulations Chrissie! Thanks for reading!

* Mary translated from Miryam which meant: bitter, defiant, rebellious.


  1. Andy that was beautiful! To really think about the fact that He desires and wants us in His presence…to think how Mary must have felt in that moment to be recognized by Him. And He does the same for us each day…He recognized me. Wow! Thanks so much for sharing! and for visiting the other day! :)

    1. Thanks Andrea! God is so good isn’t He? Thanks for visiting me too. So glad you were blessed. Yes, He loves you like crazy and desires your presence.

  2. Mable Mason

    I was so blessed reading this post. it really lifted my spirit.
    thank you an may God bless you Andy.

    1. Yay God! Thank you Mable! I’m so blessed when I know someone’s spirits were lifted. He loves you. Can’t believe it’s been a year since visiting Ohio! Ya’ll blessed me.

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