Mary of Bethany

Mary was a common biblical name. No fewer than six women in the Bible are named Mary: mother of Jesus; Mary Magdalene; Mary of Bethany; Mary, wife of Cleophas; Mary, mother of John Mark; and a Christian woman in Rome. Often, the way the ancients distinguished them was by using place names or patriarchal family names associated with them. Mary of Bethany was the sister of Martha and Lazarus, the followers of Jesus who lived in Bethany. The Gospel of John is the only gospel account that makes an explicit reference to Mary (sister of Lazarus) as the unidentified sinner who anoints Jesus' feet at the house of Simon the Pharisee.

Jesus loved the family of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus who lived in Bethany. one day, Jesus arrived at the home after Lazarus had been dead for four days. After speaking to Martha, Jesus asked for Mary, who had remained in the house weeping. She told Jesus that if he'd been there with Lazarus, her brother wouldn't have died (John 11:21). Jesus was deeply moved by the tears of Mary, and by the weeping of those Jews who were with her, and he asked where Lazarus had been laid.

Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. (It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.) Therefore his sisters sent unto him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick. (John 11:1–3)

Jesus wept as he came upon the cave with the stone covering the opening. He ordered the stone to be removed. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days” (John 11:39). Jesus prayed to God for the sake of those standing nearby, so that they might believe in God's glory, and then commanded in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth.” Lazarus, still bound in his grave clothes, walked out of the cave (John 11:43–44). This miracle was a pivotal one that caused some of the Jews to run to the Pharisees and report what Jesus had done. The Pharisees plotted how they might put Jesus to death.

In the Roman Catholic tradition, the sinful woman (Luke 7:36–50) who anointed Jesus with costly spikenard from her alabaster box in Luke 7:37 became associated early on with both Mary Magdalene and Mary of Bethany, according to Catholic teachings. However, the Eastern Orthodox churches (in particular, the Greek Orthodox) have always kept the women separate as “the sinner,” Mary Magdalene, and Mary of Bethany, according to Catholic teachings. However, the Eastern orthodox churches (in particular, the Greek orthodox) have always kept the women separate as “the sinner,” Mary Magdalene, and Mary of Bethany.

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