To be at the feet of the Lord Jesus is to be in the most blessed spot in God’s universe. It is there that every problem is solved and every question answered: whether of sin, service, sorrow, or self. There is no place like it for the guilt-laden sinner, no place like it for the perplexed or happy saint.
The Lord Jesus is greater than our sins.
The first great truth that dawns upon the soul as we come into this place of blessing is that He is greater than our sins. It was this that the sinner of the city discovered in Luke 7. Jesus had said, “Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” It is more than likely that this tired woman had heard these words and, attracted by them, had followed Him to Simon’s house. Should she enter it? What right had she to do that? The frowns of the Pharisee and his guests would have driven her from the door if the One whom her soul sought had not reclined just within it, in the lowest seat at the feast. Her need of Him was greater than her fear of them, and two forces were at work which were greater than their hostility, these combined to bring her to His feet. His love drew her, her need drove her, and pressed by the drawing of His love and the driving of her need, she took the one step across the threshold that brought her to the spot where her weary, burdened heart could find relief and rest.
At His feet she wept out her repentance for a sinful life, and mingled tears of gratitude to Him with those penitential tears for the welcome He gave her. Simon would not have permitted her to touch him, his guests would have spurned her, but the lowly Jesus, mighty Prince of Life, was not like them: He was the friend of sinners. She discovered that He had a heart of infinite tenderness, that could feel even for her, and that when He opened His mouth He spoke as no other man ever did or could speak: He spoke of forgiveness, of salvation, of peace, and surely of all things on earth or in heaven none could meet the longings of her weary soul like these.
Her sins were not too great or too many for His forgiveness; where her sin had abounded, His grace did much more abound. His words lifted the burden from her conscience and heart; in Him she found her salvation and her peace. She heard Him say, “Her sins, which are many, are forgiven.” And who can describe the blessedness of the One who has heard and believed such words as these? David could describe it, and so can I, and so can all who have come conscience-stricken, sin-laden, honest at last to the feet of this great Savior. They know the relief from the burden, the peace after the storm, the deep, holy calm that fills the heart as the sense of forgiveness steals over the soul. Only at His feet can this be known. It all comes in and through Him, “in whom we have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins” (Ephesians 1).
The Lord Jesus is greater than our service.
I do not say that the beloved Mary of Bethany was the woman of the city—some have done so and made out a good case for their view—I merely point out that she dearly loved the spot where that woman’s burden rolled away, and that every time we read of her, she is at the feet of Jesus. The first of these instances is in Luke 10:38–42.
We often admire Mary for taking the place of the disciple instead of the servant on this occasion, but may we not waste admiration upon her that ought to be bestowed upon the Lord? He it was who drew her into that place of subjection and blessing; she did but respond to His drawing, as the needle responds to the magnet. Happy woman! He at whose feet Mary sat at rest and without fear was none other than Him before whom the angels veiled their faces, and cried, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of hosts; but she knew Him in the revelation of His grace, as the One who had come into the world not to be ministered unto, but to minister and to give His life a ransom for many. She had discovered that His heart found a peculiar and unspeakable joy in filling up the vacancies in human hearts with the knowledge of His Father and Himself; it was His meat and His drink. She realized that it pleased Him more to have her there listening to His word, than any service she could have rendered to Him would have done. And she knew that she could only serve Him intelligently and well as she sat as a learner at His feet.
He values our service and will most surely reward it, but He loves our company more, and we may neglect Him while we serve. He has more to say to us and do in us, than to say through us and do by us. He should be more to us than all we can do for Him, and we show that we know this as we sit at His feet and hear His word. There and then He can sanctify and cleanse us by the washing of water by His Word and can nourish and cherish us and fashion us according to His own good pleasure.
The Lord Jesus is greater than our sorrows.
The sisters at Bethany were bewildered and broken by a sore bereavement. They had hoped that their Friend, who loved them so dearly, would have hastened to their help and healed their brother of his sickness when they appealed to Him, but He had not done so. It seemed as though He had failed them in this great crisis of their lives, for He had spoken no word and their brother had died and now lay within a sealed sepulcher, and they sat at home without hope. It was then that He came to them. Martha went out to meet Him and stood upon her feet and talked, but when He called for Mary and she came to the place where He waited for her, she fell at His feet and wept. Behold her prostrate at His feet. Listen as she pours out her grief before Him. See her as she looks up through her tears into His face. What wonder must have filled her soul as she beheld tears upon His cheeks! How beautiful He must have seemed to her that day! What a revelation of His heart were those tears! How His sympathy must have swallowed up her sorrow! What intimacy with Him did her sorrow yield her! Would she ever forget it? Then He walked by her side to the resurrection of her brother, and in His company, with Himself so near, her heart must have said, All is well. Sorrowing saints of God. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever!
Presently His voice of power broke through the power of death and set the captive free, and the multitude beheld and wondered; but Mary had learnt something more wonderful than the power that amazed them. His sympathy had poured its comfort into her soul; she had learnt that He was greater than her sorrow. Never would she have known how much He loved her, or how tender His heart was, or how all-sustaining was His presence, had it not been for her great sorrow.
The Lord Jesus is greater than self.
The last we read of Mary is in John 12, and it is fitting that her life’s record should close there. The pound of “spikenard very costly” would have distinguished her among her acquaintances. It was the sort of thing those Eastern women reserved for the greatest day in their lives. She had not even poured it on her brother at his death, much as she loved him, but she poured it out upon the feet of Jesus, well knowing that He was going to death and burial. The world had nothing to give to Him but a cross of shame and a grave with malefactors, and she only among all His disciples realized this, and she said by her action, He is worthy of the best that I can give Him, all I have that would distinguish me shall go into His grave. The Lord interpreted that action as no man could have done, and said, “Let her alone: against the day of My burying hath she kept this,” and, “Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done be told for a memorial of her.” What she had done showed what the knowledge of His love could do. It had made a woman forget the beautifying of herself, and all that would distinguish her; it had made her risk the criticism and scorn of her friends who did not understand. To her henceforward Mary was nothing and Christ was everything. Mary wanted no place for Mary in a world that did not want her Lord.
It was to this point that Paul was brought when he said, “God forbid that I should glory save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified to me, and I unto the world” (Galatians 6:14). And to this point the Holy Ghost would lead us all. Soon every ransomed saint of God will bow before Him in His glory above and cast their crowns at those feet that were once pierced in death for us, and worship and adore Him there for He is worthy! We shall cast our best at His feet in the day of His glory. Mary cast her best, and herself also, at His feet in the days of His rejection and sorrow. If He will be worthy then to fill our hearts and vision without a rival, He is worthy now, for “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”