August - 2016. Martha



Martha is one of my favourite Biblical characters.  She is a very significant New Testament figure, a personal friend of Jesus, and someone with whom we can identify today.  She lived in Bethany with her sister, Mary, and her brother, Lazarus, whom Jesus raised from the dead (John 11:1 - 15, 43 - 44).  We meet Martha three times in the Bible, and each event helps to build a profile of this interesting woman. 

The Bible first mentions Martha in Luke 10.  She is at home in Bethany, a small town near Jerusalem, where she is hosting Jesus and the disciples.  Jesus was well-known to Martha and her siblings; in fact, Jesus loved this little family (John 11:5).  On the day that Jesus visited, Martha wanted to look after Jesus and give him a nice meal.  Her sister, Mary was listening to Jesus (Luke 10:39).  As Martha “was distracted by her many tasks” (Luke 10:40) she became cross with Mary for not sharing the chores!  “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself?  Tell her then to help me!” (verse 40).  Martha is ‘miffed’ that she has to do all the work, whilst Mary is sitting listening to Jesus! 

She accuses Jesus of not caring that she has been left with all the housework!  But Jesus’ response surprises Martha, and challenges her priorities.  Jesus reminded her that Mary’s decision to sit and listen to His word was the better choice (verses 41 - 42).  Perhaps we should take time out in our busy lives to listen to Jesus?

We see Martha again just after her brother, Lazarus, had died (John 11).  The sisters had sent for Jesus when Lazarus fell ill (verse 3), but He did not arrive in time to heal him.  When Jesus finally approached Bethany, four days after Lazarus’ death, Martha ran out to meet Him and declared, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.  But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him” (John 11:21 - 22).  Martha always speaks her mind!  She firmly believed that Jesus could have healed Lazarus of his illness.  And her faith is not lessened by the fact that Jesus had arrived “too late”.  Jesus encourages Martha with one of His “I AM” statements: “I am the resurrection and the life.  Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die.  Do you believe this?” (verses 25 - 26).  Martha’s response is one of tremendous faith and understanding of Jesus’ divine nature: “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world” (verse 27).  Martha’s faith was rewarded as she witnessed her brother’s miraculous resurrection from the dead (verses 43 - 44).

The third time we encounter Martha she is doing what Martha was known to do - serving (John 12:2)!  Jesus is again attending a dinner in His honour in Bethany, and Martha is again serving!  It is on this occasion that Martha’s sister, Mary, anoints Jesus’ feet with expensive perfume (verse 3).

In Martha’s life-changing encounters with Jesus, we see the importance of balancing service with worship, of trusting the Lord even when all seems lost, and of using our material resources for the glory of God.


Rector Kathryn

Webpage icon November 2016. God’s Blueprint for success
Webpage icon October - 2016. Shiphrah and Puah
Webpage icon September 2016. Mary, mother of Jesus
Webpage icon July - 2016. Unnamed; taken in adultery
Webpage icon June - 2016. Anna, daughter of Phanuel
Webpage icon May 2016 - The First Christian in Europe
Webpage icon April 2016 - Naomi
Webpage icon March 2016 Mary Magdalene
Webpage icon February 2016 - The woman at the well