Tag Archives: Martha

IF YOU BELIEVE

IF YOU BELIEVE

“‘Lord,’ Martha said to Jesus, ‘if you had been here, my brother would not have died…'” John 11:21 NIV.

“‘Yes, Lord,’ she replied, ‘I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.’ John 11:27 NIV.

How important these moments were with Martha before Jesus went to the tomb! He knew what He was doing. His delay and Lazarus’ death were part of a much bigger plan but…He needed to re-establish the bond of trust between Him and the sisters before He could give them their miracle.

“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.’” John 11:32 NIV

They were disillusioned and disappointed because He had failed them in their crisis. The first words they uttered when they saw Him revealed their heart attitude. Betrayal! He had betrayed their trust and they let Him know it.

He was straight with Martha. She was the practical one, the tough one, the vocal one, the one who took the lead. No words of rebuke in response! He made a simple, straightforward statement: ‘Your brother will rise again.’ Martha had a general appreciation of that fact but it did not ease the pain of losing her brother. Jesus knew that.

He took her on, one step at a time, from acknowledging her belief in the resurrection to centring it on the one who stood before her. ‘I AM…’ Jesus assured her. Did she get the impact of that statement? No-one could claim to be I AM except the God who revealed His name to Moses in the desert. She answered Jesus’ challenge with an affirmation of her conviction that He was who He had revealed Himself to be…God’s Son and Messiah.

“…Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. ‘Take away the stone,’ He said. ‘But, Lord,’ said Martha, the sister of the dead man, ‘by this time there is a bad odour, for he has been there four days.’

“Then Jesus said, ‘Did I not tell you that, if you believe you will see the glory of God?'” John 11:38-40 NIV.

No, the impact of Jesus’ statement had not yet hit Martha. She did not connect the I AM with the rotting corpse in the tomb. Jesus was about to show her just how real resurrection was. This was not the final resurrection when bodies long decayed and returned to dust would come out of the graves, refashioned into the likeness of His glorious body, yet to be revealed after He too, like Lazarus, had tasted death. God’s power, nevertheless, was displayed in bringing a decomposing body back to flesh-and-blood life!

Martha’s embryo faith had not yet reached that level of trust but, from Jesus’ point of view it was faith enough, although it was as minute as a grain of mustard seed. There was a flutter of hope; the connection had been made and He could reverse the process of death and show the grieving sisters and all who were there to sympathise with them the mercy and compassion of God.

What lesson did the sisters learn from this painful experience? What can we take for ourselves from the story? Is it worth trusting God when He seems silent and unmoved by our plea for help? If He says nothing, does nothing, never give in to the devil’s lie, ‘God does not care.’ He is preparing for a much bigger miracle, one that will put His glory on display and leave no doubt of His love and His power.

“God will not answer your prayers until He had put all the structures in place to maintain that answer.” His only answer is, “Will you trust me?”

Acknowledgement

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.

THE GOSPEL OF LUKE – IT ALL DEPENDS ON ATTITUDE

IT ALL DEPENDS ON ATTITUDE

“As they continued their travel, Jesus entered a village. A woman by the name of Martha welcomed Him and made Him feel quite at home. She had a sister, Mary, who sat before the Master, hanging on every word He said. But Martha was pulled away by all she had to do in the kitchen. Later, she stepped in, interrupting them, ‘Master, don’t you care that my sister has abandoned the kitchen to me? Tell her to lend a hand.’

“The Master said, ‘Martha, dear Martha, you’re fussing too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing. One thing only is essential, and Mary had chosen it – it’s the main course and won’t be taken from her.'” Luke 10.38-42.

How many sermons have you heard on this story!? Martha, the busy one; Mary, the “spiritual” one, or something like that!

But let’s look at it from a slightly different perspective. Martha was working hard to prepare a meal for her guests – highly commendable because they had to eat. Mary was sitting in the living room among the men, listening to Jesus – also highly commendable because she was fascinated and enthralled by this man. Which of them was in the wrong, Martha because she should also have been listening to Jesus, or Mary because she should have been helping Martha prepare the meal?

We are looking at two different people with two different perspectives, values and gifts. Martha was obviously a task-orientated person while Mary was more contemplative and less practically-minded. Did Jesus rebuke Martha for working in the kitchen instead of being with Him? Did He commend Mary for choosing to abandon her sister to sit and listen to Him? It almost sounds like it, doesn’t it? But it would be out of character with Jesus to play one person against another.

I want to suggest that there was something deeper than that. Had I been Martha, and had I thought that Jesus was putting me down for wanting to do my best for Him, I would have been upset and offended with Him. But that was not His intention.

Obviously Martha derived her pleasure from serving. It was her spiritual gift, if you like. But she was fed up with Mary for not doing with her what brought her satisfaction. She wanted Mary to be like her and to do what she did. Had Martha done her work in the kitchen with as much joy as Mary had by listening to Jesus, she would have been worshipping just as much as Mary was.

Was Jesus saying that what Martha was doing was less important than what Mary was doing? It almost seems like it but that would contradict what Scripture teaches. “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31 (NIV). That’s pretty ordinary, isn’t it? What about this one? “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord and not for human masters.” Colossians 3:23 (NIV).

It was not what Martha was doing that was wrong; it was her attitude that spoiled what she was doing. We also struggle with this problem – we either become resentful of people when they don’t help us with what we are doing “for the Lord” or we want to do what we are not gifted to do because there’s more limelight and more accolades that accompany someone else’s gift.

Was Jesus saying that Mary had the right attitude and therefore she gained the most benefit by doing what she was fitted to do? You see, it’s all about relationships and preserving unity. Martha could have, with a generous heart, allowed Mary the freedom to be with Jesus without resentment and gained as much blessing in her serving as Mary did in her listening.

There are three values that we, as children of God in the family of God must make priorities if we are to represent God’s kingdom to a fallen world; we must protect love, preserve unity and promote contentment, at all costs and all the time.

It’s what Jesus did. Shouldn’t we?

The Martha and Mary Way

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 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?

Dead And Disillusioned

DEAD AND DISILLUSIONED

 “On His arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. Now Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet Him, but Mary stayed at home.

“‘Lord,’ Martha said to Jesus, ‘if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.’

“Jesus said to her, ‘Your brother will rise again.’ Martha answered, ‘I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.’

“Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?'” John 11:18-26 NIV.

Two worlds! Two perspectives! Two sisters; Martha and Mary — disappointed, disillusioned, devastated! Were they more distraught about Jesus’ failure to come when they needed Him than they were about the death of their brother? Like Job, the Lord whom they passionately loved and believed in was not there for them in their darkest hour.

When He did finally arrive it was too late. Did He miss the seriousness of Lazarus’ illness? Was this the one time in His life when He was out of touch with reality? His head in the clouds, had He misjudged the whole situation and fallen short of their trust?

Martha was quick to respond to His arrival. She had to let Him know how she felt about His behaviour. Her rebuke fell from her lips before she had time to think. She blurted out her disappointment, perhaps in the hopes that she might at least get an apology from Him. Does God ever have to apologise? Perhaps an explanation? Something beyond His control had delayed Him and He was ever so sorry that He could not come in time…

Another world! Another perspective! Jesus; the Son of God — fully aware of what was going on in the natural as well as the unseen world. His delay had been purposeful, fully under the Father’s control. There was something bigger in this situation than another healing to notch up on His proverbial belt. This was a setup from God to give those nearest to Jesus — as well as His opponents — the biggest shakeup of their lives.

Of course He knew exactly what was happening! This was no error in timing or in judgement. Everything was perfectly on course, including Lazarus’ death and what was to follow. He had to wait until the spirit of the dead man, whom the Jews believed remained in the vicinity for four days before leaving, had finally departed for the other realm.

His response was not an apology or an explanation, as Martha possibly expected. Instead Jesus spoke some of the profoundest and most riveting — and comforting — words He had ever uttered. At first Martha misunderstood His reassurance, ‘Your brother will rise again.’

We do not know what Jesus had taught this little family during the times He spent in their home. No doubt, from Martha’s response, He had fleshed out with them the hope of resurrection which was not much more than a vague idea in the Old Testament writings. Martha had the comfort of knowing that there was a life to come, but that did little to ease ache of her loss. She needed something more substantial to fill the terrible void left by her brother’s death.

Jesus’ beautiful plan was much more imminent than that. He was there — Jehovah Shamma; Immanuel — God in the flesh, and wherever He was, He reversed everything the curse had brought to mankind. He was the Lamb of God, slain from before the foundation of the world. In Him was life and the power to restore life, both physical and spiritual. What He needed was a response of trust from the two sisters who were the link between Jesus and their brother.

He was not out of options. Did Martha believe that? Did she realise that everything He did was purposeful? No, He had not misjudged anything. He was about to reveal, through the death of their brother, everything that He was — the Son of God who had overcome the enemy’s most vicious weapon — death! Lazarus would live again — for now; the day was coming that they would all live again — forever; Lazarus, their brother would be the incontrovertible sign that not even the Jews could deny.

“I AM the resurrection and the life.”

It All Depends On Attitude

IT ALL DEPENDS ON ATTITUDE

“As they continued their travel, Jesus entered a village. A woman by the name of Martha welcomed Him and made Him feel quite at home. She had a sister, Mary, who sat before the Master, hanging on every word He said. But Martha was pulled away by all she had to do in the kitchen. Later, she stepped in, interrupting them, ‘Master, don’t you care that my sister has abandoned the kitchen to me? Tell her to lend a hand.’

“The Master said, ‘Martha, dear Martha, you’re fussing too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing. One thing only is essential, and Mary had chosen it — it’s the main course and won’t be taken from her.'” Luke 10.38-42 (The Message).

How many sermons have you heard on this story!? Martha, the busy one; Mary, the “spiritual” one, or something like that!

But let’s look at it from a slightly different perspective. Martha was working hard to prepare a meal for her guests — highly commendable because they had to eat. Mary was sitting in the living room among the men, listening to Jesus — also highly commendable because she was fascinated and enthralled by this man. Which of them was in the wrong, Martha because she should also have been listening to Jesus, or Mary because she should have been helping Martha prepare the meal?

We are looking at two different people with two different perspectives, values and gifts. Martha was obviously a task-orientated person while Mary was more contemplative and less practically-minded. Did Jesus rebuke Martha for working in the kitchen instead of being with Him? Did He commend Mary for choosing to abandon her sister to sit and listen to Him? It almost sounds like it, doesn’t it? But it would be out of character with Jesus to play one person against another.

I want to suggest that there was something deeper than that. Had I been Martha, and had I thought that Jesus was putting me down for wanting to do my best for Him, I would have been upset and offended with Him. But that was not His intention.

Obviously Martha derived her pleasure from serving. It was her spiritual gift, if you like. But she was fed up with Mary for not doing with her what brought her satisfaction. She wanted Mary to be like her and to do what she did. Had Martha done her work in the kitchen with as much joy as Mary had by listening to Jesus, she would have been worshipping just as much as Mary was.

Was Jesus saying that what Martha was doing was less important than what Mary was doing? It almost seems like it but that would contradict what Scripture teaches. “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” 1 Corinthians 10:31 (NIV).

That’s pretty ordinary, isn’t it? What about this one? “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord and not for human masters.” Colossians 3:23 (NIV).

It was not what Martha was doing that was wrong; it was her attitude that spoiled what she was doing. We also struggle with this problem — we either become resentful of people when they don’t help us with what we are doing “for the Lord” or we want to do what we are not gifted to do because there’s more limelight and more accolades that accompany someone else’s gift.

Was Jesus saying that Mary had the right attitude and therefore she gained the most benefit by doing what she was fitted to do? You see, it’s all about relationships and preserving unity. Martha could have, with a generous heart, allowed Mary the freedom to be with Jesus without resentment and gained as much blessing in her serving as Mary did in her listening.

There are three values that we, as children of God in the family of God must make priorities if we are to represent God’s kingdom to a fallen world; we must protect love, preserve unity and promote contentment, at all costs and all the time.

It’s what Jesus did. Shouldn’t we?

(The rest of Luke’s Gospel, from chapter 11, has already been posted. I would love to know whether anyone thinks there is value in publishing these contributions in book form. Please blog in the appropriate place.  Luella)