Posts Tagged ‘Martha and Mary and Lazarus’

Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. (John 11:5)

Martha and Mary were two unmarried sisters who lived with their brother, Lazarus in Bethany. Bethany was only a couple of miles away from Jerusalem making it a nice place to stay when Jesus was traveling to Jerusalem. Jesus and His disciples had seemingly known the family for some time. Since Martha was in charge of the guest arrangements, we assume that she was the elder of the two sisters.

We are not sure how Jesus came to be such close friends with this family. We don’t know much about His childhood or young adulthood except for the incident at the temple when He was 12 years old. (See. Luke 2:41-52) Jesus did not start His public ministry until around age 30 but this did not preclude Him from making many private friends before that time.

Jesus no doubt made many friends while He was growing up. He would have done the same things all other people did including socializing. It is quite possible that His friendship with Martha’s family may have gone back many years.

In any event, by the time we come to our stories about Martha we know that Jesus already knew who she was and loved her.

One time when Jesus and the disciples were traveling they stopped at the martha, mary, Jesushome of Martha and Mary. The Gospel writer Luke tells us that on this occasion Martha was distracted with the meal preparation for her guests. (Luke 10:38-42) While she was busy in the kitchen, her sister Mary went and sat at Jesus’ feet and listened to Him as He talked. Martha was irritated at Mary and asked Jesus to tell Mary to help her with the preparations. Jesus gently responded, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”

Notice how gently Jesus responds to Martha. He doesn’t tell her that she is completely wrong for working so hard to prepare for her guests, only that “Mary has chosen the good part.” It is important to have food for your body, but it is more important to have food for your soul. Martha had misplaced her priorities a bit.

Martha was a consummate hostess and her hospitality was impeccable. She seemed to be gifted with the ability to organize and to make all of her guests feel comfortable. Jesus certainly came right in and sat down and started making conversation with the other guests. Being able to make others feel so much at home is an admirable trait. We might feel sympathetic with Martha when she found herself doing all of the work. But, this is what she was gifted for and called to. Her only mistake, which was very gently pointed out to her by Jesus, was that she worried about her chores too much. Taking a little time out for the Lord when He was right there with her was more important.

This does not mean that Martha’s faith was less than Mary’s. We see that Martha was the first to respond to Jesus when He came to their home on a later occasion when their brother Lazarus became ill.

Martha and Mary had sent Jesus a message when Lazarus became sick. They believed that if Jesus would come, He would heal their brother. It is a familiar story – Jesus delayed two days, apparently on purpose – and then traveled to Bethany. (See John 11:1-46)

Martha ran outside to meet Jesus when He finally arrived while Mary stayed in the house. Martha trusted Jesus completely. She told Him, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. Even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.”  Martha was sure that Jesus would help them.

Jesus told her that Lazarus would rise again. Imagine how Martha must have felt. It was wonderful that Jesus was comforting her and telling her that she would see her brother again some day in Heaven. She did not realize at first what Jesus meant.

Jesus meant that He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead right then. He asked Martha if she believed in Him and that if she believed in Him she would never die. Martha responded, “Yes, Lord; I have believed that You are the Christ, the Son of God, even He who comes into the world.” This declaration of faith is the same as that of all believers in Christ – it is saving faith.

After this, Martha went and called Mary. They went to meet Jesus and then walked to the tomb where Lazarus had been buried.

Jesus told some men to remove the stone that was at the mouth of the cave that was being used as the tomb. Martha said, “Lord, by this time there will be a stench, for he has been dead four days.” Jesus said, “Did I not say to you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”

lazarus_resJesus prayed to the Father and then cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth.” Lazarus came out of the tomb still wrapped in the burial cloths around his body. Imagine what Martha and Mary and all of the people standing around watching must have thought! What joy and gratitude must have filled Martha’s heart! Martha did not understand what Jesus had been trying to explain to her earlier, but now there could be no doubt. Jesus, her friend, is also the Resurrection and the Life. He is also her Savior.

We meet Martha one more time in the Gospels. Later, Jesus goes to Bethany again on the way to Jerusalem six days before His final Passover. This will be the Passover that Jesus will share with the disciples before His trial and crucifixion.

Once again, Jesus stays at the home of His good friends, Lazarus, Martha, and Mary. At some point on this visit they went to the home of Simon the leper for a meal. (Mark 14:3) “So they made Him a supper there, and Martha was serving…” (John 12:2) Here was Martha still doing what she was good at. Her reputation as a hostess was well known. Simon apparently did not have a wife or other female relative to act as his hostess and so he called on his friend, Martha. I can’t help but wondering if Martha spent a little more time talking to Jesus on this occasion, having learned her lesson.

Jesus loved Martha and Mary and Lazarus. Martha must have been a very special person since Jesus made it a point to make their home His home when He was near Jerusalem. We must not forget that though Jesus is divine, He also came to earth as a human. He had human needs for food and shelter. Martha met those needs and Jesus showed His appreciation for her.

Martha is an example of consistent, unshakeable faith. And she was one more of the many women that Jesus showed kindness to in the Gospels. Next week, we will look at Jesus’ special relationship with Martha’s sister, Mary.

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