“And truly, I say to you, wherever the gospel is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in memory of her.” -Jesus in Mark 14:9
Mary, sister of Martha and Lazarus, really is known throughout the whole world today wherever the gospel has been preached, taught, and read. She is known in the churches of the saints, in the homes of believers, and among the millions of readers of this amazing Word of God – not only this story of Mary anointing her Lord, but of her hosting Him regularly in her home and through the extraordinary account of Jesus restoring life to her dead brother. She is one of the personalities of the gospel who is introduced in the first four books of the New Testament portion of this amazing Word.
The New Testament is truly the perfect completion of the thirty-nine books of the Old Testament. It quotes the Old Testament quite frequently while proving the fulfillment of its many prophecies in the events of the New Testament. The New Testament is not understood apart from the Old, nor the Old apart from the New. The two testaments are a seamless part of the whole: God’s Holy Word.
The twenty-seven books of the New Testament were written down over approximately a short fifty-year period of time in the latter part of the first century, after four centuries of revelational silence from the concluding words of the Old Testament, written itself over a thousand-year period. Jesus was aware that the written New Testament would perfectly complete the Scriptures. He exhibited that pre-knowledge in making these comments about Mary and the memory of her pouring very expensive oil on His body in anointing her Savior.
So these twenty-seven books are the finishing of a story begun in Genesis. They complete the numerous prophecies of the Old Testament which left many wondering, “Will this really happen?” In turn, you then say to yourself that the predictions found in the New Testament will certainly come to pass as well! Everything predicted of the future in Matthew to Revelation has indeed come to pass already or will in the future. This is the very reason for you to spend quality and quantity time in these pages. You simply cannot retain it all without sparking your memory or through the discipline of thoughtful meditation.
It is not only the memory of Mary of Bethany we become acquainted with, but the memories of all the Marys and of the many characters spoken of in this gospel record which we know so well today. Consider all the people in the Bible whose lives are recorded for good or for ill and for your encouragement or rebuke, your nurture or admonition. These sixty-six books have been painstakingly and meticulously copied and then finally printed during the printing press era in nearly every language in the world.
The completion of this task has been perseveringly pursued by countless linguists in jungles, deserts, mountains, and islands. They have spent entire lives ensuring the written Word is translated and disseminated to all in every tribe, language, race, and nation on the face of the earth. It has been a torturous task reflecting enormous sacrifice and tedious labor but a most rewarding use of lifetime skills. Most of us have numerous copies of the Bible in our homes. This is something precious, not to be taken for granted. There is no excuse for you not to know its pages thoroughly, nor for you not to share its content with others.
The story of the Word is saturated with the supernatural, of course, but God has used countless servants from among His creatures as co-laborers with Him. This Word has been superintended by God from its conception to its final words in Revelation. Nothing could crush it nor extinguish it. Still there are far too many who ignore, avoid, and remain at an arm’s length from this Word of Life. Jesus, speaking of the whole, said His words are a light in complete darkness, they are living water in a parched land, and apart from them there simply is no life.
It is this Word which ties all of human history together, making sense out of the seemingly chaotic and disparate parts of a fallen world. Though nothing has been written since the first century, the message of the Word encompasses all the centuries of the modern era, primarily because it has steadily been preached and studied, and prominent historical figures in each of those centuries have made the Word their primary focus while shining its spotlight into the culture. The concluding material of Revelation then brings you right up to the consummation of history.
This is no dead book written by long dead authors, but a book which lives, whose authors also still live in the courts of heaven, and whose constant diviner, the Holy Spirit, indwells the saints living today. Many courageous martyrs have fought to defend this Word and promulgate its eternal message. None regret anything done by them unto death to forward its divine purpose. They celebrate in heaven their participation in its amazing story. It has always faced fierce persecution, and all the attempts to censor its message never triumph, for it is continually infused with staying-power by the Ever-Living One. As we read in Isaiah 40:8, “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the Word of our God will stand forever.”
“How firm a foundation, you saints of the Lord, is laid for your faith in His excellent Word! What more can He say than to you He has said, to you who for refuge to Jesus has fled?”
(First verse of an anonymous hymn from Rippon’s Selection of Hymns, “How Firm a Foundation,” 1787)
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