Lessons From Peter and Mary

By Olen Holderby

Have you done what you can? Are you using those opportunities that are there? Are you willing to run the risk of criticism in order to serve the Lord?

Peter’s apostleship, disposition, and out-spoken manner has offered many good lessons for us today; but, we shall notice only one of them in this short article. Mary was one the who poured the precious ointment on Jesus’ head and this story offers us some thought provokers, some of which we shall notice.


Matthew 26:58 reads, “But Peter followed him afar off unto the high priest’s palace, and went in, and sat with the servants, to see the end.”

Jesus had been in the Garden praying, with Peter, James, and John nearby asleep. Somewhere near midnight, those commissioned to do so came to arrest Jesus and this caused some commotion to the extent that all his disciples left him and fled. From this point on through his trials many observers were present: sight-seers, busybodies, those who hated Jesus, and those who were just curious.

When Jesus was arrested to be taken to the palace of the high priest, our text says, “Peter followed him afar off.” At this point Peter is seen as a distant disciple, one who would not follow close enough to be recognized as one of his disciples.

What caused Peter to be a distant disciple? I offer three things that, it seems to me, led to his condition:

First, he did not plan it that way. In fact he appears rather determined a little earlier, when he said, “Though I die with thee, yet will I not deny thee” (v. 35). So, Peter did not plan to be a distant disciple.

Second, he disobeyed the Lord. Jesus had said, “watch and pray” (v. 41). Peter apparently did neither.

Third, he obviously feared persecution.

Now, that we have looked at the causes of his being a distant disciple, let us take note of some of the consequences of his condition: It killed his enthusiasm to serve the Lord. It put him in a hostile crowd among the enemies of Jesus. Since he “sat with the servants to see the end,” we can say he had lost his faith. Last, but not least, he lost his courage and denied the Lord. Yes sir, some terrible consequences!

A little later, according to Luke 22:61, 62, after Peter had denied the Lord and Jesus simply turned and looked upon Peter, we are told that the look of Jesus broke his heart.

Dear reader, do you see any lessons in this for us today? If not, go back and re-read the causes for his being a distant disciple, and the consequences of such condition. The les- sons are there! Will we get them?


Mark 14:8 contains the statement about which we are concerned at this time, “She hath done what she could.” In this statement, Jesus is defending Mary’s actions against the critics present. Read the entire story in Mark 14:3-9. Jesus is in the home of Simon the leper, having a common meal. Mary came in and poured the precious ointment on the head of the Savior. Some showed indignation and called such act a waste. But Jesus defended Mary by saying, “She hath done what she could.”

There are at least five different and important lessons which we may learn from this story. Without taking the time for details or exhaustive consideration, let us mention them:

1. God does not expect the impossible, only that we do what we can. She was not like the one-talent man of Matthew 25.

2. True greatness is not determined by man, rather by the Lord. Some present thought Mary did wrong, but Jesus de- fended her, showing his approval of what she had done.

3. The true spirit of greatness is to be found in serving the Lord, by doing what we can for his honor and cause.

4. Small talents used are more important than great talents abused. Mary seemingly had little talent, but there was no hesitation is using it. Little things often count more than the things we consider great and mighty.

5. Opportunities to serve the risen Christ will someday end. Mary served while the opportunity was present, as we all ought to do.

Have you done what you can? Are you using those opportunities that are there? Are you willing to run the risk of criticism in order to serve the Lord? Great lessons are found in this story also. Will we get them?