Memorial: The Mystery of Mary of Bethany by Dolores Kimball
The figure of Mary of Bethany in the Gospels does not take up a large portion of Scripture. However, her role in the ministry of Jesus is very important. Author and editor Dolores Kimball in her new book, Memorial: The Mystery of Mary, brings her years of working for Christian ministries to bear on the portrait of Mary of Bethany. Specifically, this book is designed to women in a unique way. I found the chapters to be most interesting in providing a perspective on Mary that brought the special place we find for her in the Gospels. Certainly, there is more to Mary than meets the eye and thus she provides a good role model for women today.
In her chapter on life choices, Dolores brings out an important point on the way Mary and Martha interacted with Jesus in regards to worship and service. She writes, “Mary made a conscious choice to sit at Jesus’ feet in the same way that Martha made a conscious choice to serve. But worship is always a higher service to Christ than anything done on his behalf. Even those who love the Lord dearly can become so wrapped up in doing things for Christ that we cease to hear from him and lose sight of what he has done for us.” (45) This distinction between service and worship is not an easy rope to walk on. Because, we often feel, myself included, that service for Christ is worship for Christ and we forget the so very important message of worshipping Christ in our quietness, in our praises, and in his Word. Martha was wrapped in the service as worship mindset while Mary was more concerned with intently seeking Jesus, to be with him and learn from him.
Dolores brings out Jesus’ commendation of Mary in the context of Mary anointing Jesus’ body for burial. “This astonishing act was unparalleled in all of Scripture. She alone among all those recorded in the Bible knew that his death and burial were only days away. She alone believed him when he said that he ‘must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and after three days rise again’ (Mark 8:31). And that knowledge was born out of her unique faith - faith in who Jesus was and what he came to accomplish for her and for all who would ever believe in him down through the ages.” (71) We skip over this commendation at times to race toward the resurrection appearances and the Jesus teaching those on the road to Emmaus. Yet, we forget that Mary of Bethany was the one who had eyes to see and ears to hear what was coming ahead. When the disciples were sleeping and confused about who is going to sit on Jesus’ right hand, Mary was commended for her unique faith in taking to heart Jesus’ prophetic words of his coming death and resurrection.
This book was very good in bringing out the unique and powerful message of Mary in connection to Jesus. With patience and wisdom, Dolores carefully weaves together a portrait of Mary that is full of faith and one who seems to get the message of Jesus when most others didn’t.
Thanks to EP Books and Cross Focused Reviews for the review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.