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Martha Before Jesus

Jesus Loved Martha


Luke 10:38-42

38Now it came to pass, as they went, that He entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received Him into her house. 39And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard His word. 40But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to Him, and said, Lord, dost Thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me.41And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: 42But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.

John 11:1-45

1Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. 2(It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped His feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.) 3Therefore his sisters sent unto Him, saying, Lord, behold, he whom Thou lovest is sick. 4When Jesus heard that, He said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.

5Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus. 6When He had heard therefore that he was sick, He abode two days still in the same place where He was. 7Then after that saith He to His disciples, Let us go into Judaea again. 8His disciples say unto him, Master, the Jews of late sought to stone Thee; and goest Thou thither again? 9Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day?  If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world. 10But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him.  11These things said He: and after that He saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep. 12Then said His disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well. 

 13Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that He had spoken of taking of rest in sleep. 14Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead. 15And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him. 16Then said Thomas, which is called Didymus, unto his fellow disciples, Let us also go, that we may die with Him.

17Then when Jesus came, he found that he had lain in the grave four days already. 18Now Bethany was nigh unto Jerusalem, about fifteen furlongs off: 19And many of the Jews came to Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother.  

20Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met Him: but Mary sat still in the house. 21Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if Thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. 22But I know, that even now, whatsoever Thou wilt ask of God, God will give it Thee. 23Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again.

24Martha saith unto Him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. 25Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: 26And whosoever liveth and believeth in Me shall never die.  Believest thou this?

27She saith unto Him, Yea, Lord: I believe that Thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world. 28And when she had so said, she went her way, and called Mary her sister secretly, saying, The Master is come, and calleth for thee. 29As soon as she heard that, she arose quickly, and came unto Him. 30Now Jesus was not yet come into the town, but was in that place where Martha met Him.

31The Jews then which were with her in the house, and comforted her, when they saw Mary, that she rose up hastily and went out, followed her, saying, She goeth unto the grave to weep there. 32Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw Him, she fell down at His feet, saying unto him, Lord, if Thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.  When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, He groaned in the spirit, and was troubled, 34And said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto Him, Lord, come and see.

35Jesus wept.

36Then said the Jews, Behold how He loved him! 37And some of them said, Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died? 38Jesus therefore again groaning in Himself cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it.

39Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto Him, Lord by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days. 40Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?  

41Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up His eyes, and said, Father, I thank Thee that thou hast heard Me. 42And I knew that thou hearest Me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that Thou hast sent Me.

43And when He thus had spoken, He cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth.  44And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go. 45Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on Him.

John 12:1-2

1Then Jesus six days before the passover came to Bethany, where Lazarus was which had been dead, whom He raised from the dead. 2There they made Him a supper; and Martha served:  but Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with Him.

We know nothing of the history of Martha except she was the sister of Mary and Lazarus and they lived in Bethany, however, the narrative seems to suggest the home belonged to Martha and, being older than Mary and Lazarus, she carried the responsibility of the household affairs.

Jesus often visited this home for He found rest and relaxation and He felt so welcome and He had a great love for Martha, Mary and Lazarus. Martha receiving Him into her house was the proof of her faith in Him. It is vain and presumptuous for us to talk about our faith in Christ if we have not actually received Him into the “house of our hearts”.

John 1:12

But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name.

Martha was an active person. She busied herself with much serving. Martha was not only a hearer, but a doer. She had listened to His words; now it seems that she would minister to Him in serving Him a good meal. She had planned to do much. She had a generous heart and her earnest desire was to accomplish much for the honor of Jesus. It seems that she was troubled and weary and no doubt very burdened. What to her was “duty” had become drudgery.

Martha had a sister named Mary who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His words.

This is the second step in the Christian life–learning.

Jesus teaches us in His own words:

Matthew 11:28-30

28Come unto Me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  29Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.  30For My yoke is easy and My burden light.

No doubt, Martha had worked all morning, hot and tired and with no help. Seeing Mary sitting and enjoying the company of Jesus, she became weary and began to complain.

Luke 10:40-42

40But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to Him, and said, Lord, dost Thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me. 41And Jesus answered and said unto her,  Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: 42But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.

If the Lord had bidden Mary go and help Martha, He would have partly justified her in her complaint, but no, He said in substance: You take too much upon you. The one thing you need is not a helping hand, but a restful heart. Mary had chosen that good part, and He would not take it from her.

There are many Martha’s whose countenances bear the traces of a worried and troubled heart, even while they are seeking to serve Jesus, “cumbered about much serving”. We must not for a moment feel that Mary thought serving was beneath her or that Martha had the idea that sitting was beyond her spiritual capacity.

Both sat before the Master, but while Mary thought that listening was better, Martha felt that feeding Jesus was just as necessary as waiting upon His Word.

Martha’s practical service, service on His behalf, was inspired by what she had heard from His lips and resulted in her love for Him. She loved Jesus and wanted all in the house to do their best for Him. It was as if Martha had said to Jesus: Lord, here I am with everything to do, and this sister of mine will not help me do anything. I fear that I might miss something from Thy lips and Thou from our hands; bid her therefore, that she help me.

I’m sure Jesus appreciated Martha’s warm-hearted and practical management of the household. He knew that she was seeking to entertain Him with her best, so He lovingly warned her of the danger of forgetting amid her many cares of “the one thing needful”.

Jesus did not tell Martha that she was allowing the cares of this life to choke the good seed. He recognized that she was working for Him but reminded her that she was permitting her outward activities to hinder her spiritually. In other words, maybe the thought conveyed the message to Martha: You are busy with many courses, when one dish would be quite sufficient.

Jesus dearly loved these three people. How different were their personalities and temperaments, yet Jesus loved them with an equal love.

Next, we see Martha and Mary united in grief. Sickness and death shadowed that loving and caring home in Bethany. Lazarus became sick and the sisters sent word to Jesus: Behold, he whom Thou lovest is sick (John 11:3, above).

Jesus did not hurry to Bethany but stayed where he was and by the time He reached Bethany, Lazarus had been in the grave four days. He knows the exact moment to display His power. He knew that this was a death that would result in His being glorified as the Son of man.

While many of the Jewish friends came to comfort the grief-stricken sisters, they eagerly awaited the coming of Jesus, too. As soon as Martha knew that Jesus was on His way, she dried her tears and ran out to meet Jesus, leaving Mary sitting in the house.

When Martha got to Jesus, she uttered a rebuke in her usual blunt fashion. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.“ (John 11:21, above).Then seemingly uncovering the real depths of her heart, she hurried on to say, “But I know that even now, whatever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it Thee.“

Immediately, Jesus healed her broken heart by assuring her that her brother would rise again. Martha thought of the resurrection of her much-loved brother as a far-off event. Martha’s reply provided the Master an occasion to present one of the most outstanding statements in the Bible as to His deity, power and authority. We can read it in John 11:25, above also.
Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in Me though he were dead, yet shall he live.

With her heart stilled by the mighty and beautiful message of Christ and yet more calm because of His presence, Martha confessed her faith and went back to call Mary, for Jesus had asked for her.

Meeting Jesus, she fell down at the feet of Jesus, where she had loved to sit. She repeated the complaint of Martha.

Jesus was concerned for their cries and the heartache to follow. We come to the shortest verse in the Bible: Jesus wept.

How true it is “In every pang that rends the heart, the Man of Sorrows shares a part.” Here was the evidence of His humanity. At the grave, Martha gave vent to her feelings again. She implied that her dead brother’s body had passed to corruption, but a beautiful miracle happened, and the glory of God was manifested. See Scripture above: John 11:41-44

Jesus cried with a loud voice and said “Lazarus, come forth,“ (John 11: 43). What tears of joy Martha and Mary must have shed when they embraced their brother.

The last mention of Martha was at the supper in her home to celebrate the resurrection of Lazarus and, as usual, she was active and served. While the guests were seated, Mary was at the feet of Jesus.

There are some beautiful lessons that we can glean as we think of the life and character of Martha. One of her noblest acts was to open her home to Jesus and entertain Him.

She did not know at the beginning of His visits that He was the Son of God with power, and when we receive Him into our hearts as Savior, we do not know all there is to know of His majesty and power. Eternity alone will bring us the full revelation of why and what He is.

Also, remember that Jesus’s delays are not denials. He is never too early or too late, but answers at the time that is best for all involved. Some are Marthas and some are Marys, but a combination of both are needed. Both are necessary to complete the Christian character.

Author: Nannie Mae Jordan
(Transcribed by Joyce Carter   Transcribed and Formatted by Jerry Knight)

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