Martha seems to have been a hostess of some renown in Bethany. She invited Jesus and the Disciples to eat at her home. Mary helped her when there guests, but at the dinner Mary did not assist in the service. Instead she sat at Jesus' feet to listen to his teaching. Martha appealed to Jesus to tell her sister to help her. Jesus gently reproved Martha's anxiety about the serving and praised Mary's choice of the better part.
During the event, Mary took a pound of highly expensive perfumed oil and lavished it on Jesus' head and his feet. She was criticized for this exuberant act, but Mary seems to have heard truths in his message the disciples had missed: She knew the end was near, and she would not have another chance to honor him this way.