THE MARTHA AND MARY WAY
“After she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside, ‘The Teacher is here,’ she said, ‘and is asking for you.’
“When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to Him. Now Jesus had not yet entered the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met Him…
“…When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw Him, she fell at His feet and said, ‘Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.’ When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. ‘Where have you laid him?’ He asked. ‘Come and see, Lord,’ they replied. Jesus wept.” John 11:28-30; 32-35 NIV.
Martha…Mary…two sisters, but two completely different personalities. Martha was the practical one. She loved and served and worshipped with her mind and with her hands. Her joy was to prepare the tastiest meal she could for her Lord and His disciples. She wanted Mary to be like her. She had to learn that she could not force Mary into her mould. Her way of worshipping Jesus was acceptable for her but nor for Mary.
Jesus met her where she was, questioning, reasoning, trying to understand. He spoke to her; He reassured her; He gave her one of the most profound promises in all of Scripture to cling to…’I AM the resurrection and the life.’ Her mind wrestled with His words. In a short while she would understand; her doubts and questions would be laid to rest and she would worship Him again, with greater confidence and freedom because He would show her, once again who He really was. Her worship was expressed in the thoughts of her mind and the loving service of her hands.
Mary was the quiet one, content to sit at His feet and listen, to drink in His presence, if not the meaning of every word. Mary worshipped with her heart; she expressed her worship with her emotions. She would not speak – she would weep. She would wash His feet with her tears and anoint Him with her costliest treasure. She would be there, taking the lowliest place just to be near Him.
When He did not come — and their brother slipped away from them into a place where they could not reach him — they felt their grief in their own unique way. Their rebuke may have been the same but their words were the expression of who they really were inside.
Mary’s tears were her words. She poured out her disillusionment, her disappointment, her distress, her doubts and her brokenness in a torrent of salty anguish – and Jesus heard her heart. He understood and He wept with her; not tears of distress over the death of her brother, or tears of anger over what sin had done, but simply tears of understanding mingling with her tears — speaking to her, ‘Mary, I feel your pain,’ in wet wordlessness.
How precious is the reassurance that Jesus will meet us where we are! Some are Martha-people, expressing our worship in the activity of our minds and the work of our hands. We feel the closest to Him and understand His heart the best when we are doing something to give away His love to someone who has less, is less than we are. He is there when we wipe the tears of one who sorrows. He is there when we fill a growling belly or cover a shivering body with a blanket. We love and serve with His hands.
Some are Mary-people, content to sit at His feet, to love and be loved by being with Him, by revelling in His presence in the beauty of a sunset or the sound of rushing water. Like the lost sheep whom the shepherd carried home on his shoulder, we rest in the joy of being found, content to know that we are loved and cherished enough for the shepherd to give His life for us. We worship with our hearts, with our emotions and our tears.
No matter whether you are a Martha or a Mary, He knows who you are and where you are and meets you there. The question is: Are you ready to let Him meet you and listen to your heart?
Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide