Imagine owning a big home, a substantial place, where friends and fellow believers are comfortable gathering. In this home meals are plentiful and the conversation is enlightening. Wintertime would ensure a fire burning in the fireplace, and in the summertime the air conditioning and ceiling fans provide the comfort everyone desires. Visitors know it as a safe haven where those in trouble receive acceptance, prayer occurs, and care is given.
Such was Mary’s home. It’s only two verses of scripture, and what we know of her we glean from that single passage. Acts 12:12-13 introduces us to Mary, John Mark’s mom, one of the Mary’s we encounter in the New Testament:
“When this had dawned on him, he [Peter] went to the house of Mary the mother of John, also called Mark, where many people had gathered and were praying. Peter knocked at the outer entrance, and a servant girl named Rhoda came to answer the door.” (NIV)
Let’s quickly set the scene. Herod had arrested some believers in the early church. With the goal of persecuting them, he executed James and placed Peter in prison. An angel of the Lord appeared to the Apostle Peter while he was in prison and miraculously released him. After realizing he was now free, Peter immediately knew where to go. He knew he could go to Mary’s home. She was an ally.
It appears Mary had a large home since many people were present. Scripture mentions it was her house, so scholars assume she was a widow. This spacious home was a well-known center of early Christian life and worship, and legend holds it as the location of the Upper Room. Since Peter knocked at the outer entrance, it seems there was a meeting place within the walls of her home with a large enough room or rooms for people to gather. Obviously, she was affluent, and she had at least one servant, Rhoda.
Many of us aspire being like Mary, and believe if only we had a big house and more financial freedom, we could also effectively serve God. But with these privileges and Mary’s willingness to serve, there was a cost attached which we don’t often see or consider. Her obedience, service, and hospitality involved great personal risk on her part, as the early church was encountering their first wave of persecution at this time. I see a woman who was brave; a woman who risked all she had for the early church. Later, she would have to release her son, John Mark, for him to travel with Paul on his first missionary journey (see Acts 12:25). She was a woman who was willing to let go; a woman who knew it all comes with a cost.
You may envision your “dream” house as large and comfortably furnished. However,
Great responsibility, and often sacrifice, come with God’s provision and gifts.
Usually there is more than what we see on the surface, and we need to embrace the whole package.
Father God, So often I assume if only I had the financial means and the bigger home, I too, could serve you more effectively. What I’m realizing, though, is often there’s more than what I see on the surface. For with these gifts, come great responsibility and often sacrifice. Please enable me to open my home and practice hospitality right where you’ve placed me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Luke 12:48 (NLT): “When someone has been given much, much will be required in return; and when someone has been entrusted with much, even more will be required.”
Romans 12:13 (NIV): “Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.”
1 Peter 4:9 (NLT): “Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay.”
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