Luke 10 / John 11 / John12, NKJV
Exploring the relationship Jesus had with sisters and how that relationship can affect a woman’s life.
38 Now it happened as they [Jesus and his disciples] went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.”
41 And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. 42 But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.” NKJV
You usually don’t invite a complete stranger into your home. We can be fairly sure Martha was familiar with Jesus ministry and had some interaction with him before she extended the dinner invitation. She was preparing food for her guest when she felt overwhelmed by everything that needed to be done. She might have asked Mary to help and been ignored. Martha had a solution to her problem. Use Jesus’ influence over Mary to make her sister do what she wanted her to do, but she was not 100% convinced Jesus would help, so she gave him some incentive,
Luke 10:40 “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.”
Make Jesus feel guilty if he does not help, because if you care about me you will. Then tell him what to do so he won’t feel guilty for not caring.
Instead of allowing Martha to dictate what needed to be done Jesus gave her the solution to her problem.
Luke 10:41 “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things.
Most of us have things in our character that we can’t see. A friend loved me enough to tell me the truth. “Teena, you are just like Burger King, you want it your way.” The initial knee jerk reaction is “No, I am not! I am good Christian, I pray like Jesus, not my will but thine be done.”
Sometimes people see in you the things that are wrong in their lives and their judgements about you are not true. Sometimes they are telling the truth. If someone tells you something uncomfortable, don’t be quick to dismiss it. You cannot change what you cannot see. Before you get offended or angry ask God if it’s true. I asked him if I was like Burger King. He responded by flooding my mind with memories that proved my friend spoke the truth.
If we cannot see or cannot accept the truth about ourselves, we will blame others for our problems. ADAM blamed EVE, EVE blamed the Serpent, and Martha blamed Mary. Mary was not Martha’s problem. The worried and troubled way Martha approached life created her problems.
Think about who Martha was talking to, it’s the same person you talk to when you pray. Jesus had already feed thousands with a few loaves of bread and fish on two different occasions. You don’t need human help when you are standing in the presence of God. She could have told Jesus “I am over whelmed, help me,” and handed him a loaf of bread and a fish. They would have had more than enough for dinner, distributed by his disciples and Martha would have had enough leftovers to feed the city too.
If you were one of these sisters who would you be? Are you a Martha, worried and troubled about things that you don’t need to be worried and troubled about? Do you test God’s love for you? Do you tell him what he needs to do to prove he cares?
Are you a Mary, have you chosen a good part that will not be taken away from you?
If you could be one of these sisters who would you want to be?
About 2 ½ months after Jesus and Martha had the discussion about Mary, their brother Lazarus became sick. They believed Jesus loved Lazarus, so Mary and Martha sent Jesus a simple message. “He who you love is sick.”
The last time Martha had a problem she told Jesus how to fix it. This time she is a little more mature in her relationship with him. She did not tell him what he needed to do BUT Martha and this time Mary too are testing his love. They knew he had the power to heal, so they thought all they had to do was remind Jesus that he loved Lazarus and Jesus would come immediately and heal him. That was their expectation when they sent the message.
If you care about me, if you love me you will…… Don’t say it out loud, think about your own life and finish that sentence. What does Jesus have to do for you………. to prove that he cares about you and loves you?
Jesus did not respond to their message like we might have because he does not have the limitations we have. When Jesus learned someone he loved was sick, he wasn’t worried and troubled. He not only possessed the power to heal, he had already raised two people from the dead, a widow’s son and Jarius daughter. Instead of running to Lazarus bedside before Lazarus died he said:
John 11:4 “this sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God that the Son of God may be glorified through it.”
That does not mean God inflicted Lazarus with a sickness. It means everyone gets sick on occasion and God planned to use this occasion to work everything together for the good of those who love God (Rom 8:28). Two days later, Jesus told his disciples pack. They were going to Judea so he could wake-up Lazarus.
There were people in Judea that wanted to kill Jesus. He was on the Sanhedrin’s Top 10 Most Wanted List as a criminal worthy of death for blasphemy. His disciples did not want to go. They were worried and troubled if they returned to Judea the Jews would kill all of them. If Lazarus was sleeping, he is getting better. They did not see a good reason to put their lives in jeopardy.
They did need to go because what God was doing involved more than Lazarus.
Then Jesus said to them plainly, “Lazarus is dead. 15 And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, that you may believe…
Why was Jesus glad? The glory of God will give the disciples a reason to believe and he wasn’t just talking about the 12, he was talking about all of his disciples.
Mary and Martha knew where Jesus was because they had to tell the messenger where to go. They had a reasonable expectation of how long it would take the messenger to get there and when he might return with Jesus. The messenger returned alone. Disappointing. While they were waiting for Jesus to arrive Lazarus died. Disappointment turned into depression.
Jesus did not come to comfort them in their grief but friends from Jerusalem did. They gathered around the sisters to weep with those who weep. They were doing a good thing. The Bible tells us to rejoice with those who rejoice and weep with those who weep.
They buried Lazarus. The only man who could have prevented this tragedy did not even come to the funeral. By this time, the sisters are beginning to wonder if they were wrong. Maybe Jesus didn’t love Lazarus. Maybe he does not love us either. Our friends from Jerusalem are here weeping with us, comforting us. Where is Jesus?
Jesus arrived four days after Lazarus died. Their friends were still there weeping. At minimum, Mary and Martha spent four days, maybe longer, but at minimum for four days the sisters were depressed, grieving, crying and wondering if God loves me. He sure does not act like it.
The way the sisters’ responded to Jesus when he arrived revealed their true relationship with him.
As soon as Martha heard Jesus was on the way, she did not wait. She ran to his presence. It is highly unlikely Martha left without telling Mary. Why didn’t Mary go with her? Mary who loved to sit at his feet stayed home with the friends who loved her. It was easy to believe they loved her because they fulfilled her expectations of how people act when they love you.
Martha is the one who tested his love twice, “don’t you care”,“the one you love is sick…” Both times he failed to do what she expected him to do, yet she ran to his presence and said,
John 11:21-24: “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you.
Jesus agreed, “Your brother will rise again.” Now we know why Jesus did not go to the funeral. But Martha was not thinking rise again today.
Martha responded, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”
Martha KNOWS! Twice she said I know. I know you can fix this. I know my brother will be resurrected.
Martha had the hope that death is temporary. She believed her brother would be resurrected. Does Martha know things Mary does not know? Martha knows all about the resurrection. She understood the gospel and the hope of the gospel. If there is no resurrection our faith is vain. She might have been busy caring for the physical needs of others when Jesus taught in her home, but she not only listened she heard what he said. Her concern for the body and spirit did not stop Martha from KNOWING THE TRUTH.
Martha probably suffered criticism from the other disciples. Mary might have chastised her for not spending more time at Jesus feet. Especially after Jesus refused to send Mary to the kitchen. “Jesus loves you Martha. Don’t you love him? All you care about is dinner and a clean house. Don’t you know what is important in life Martha?”
Yes, she did. She knows and she has a clean house and dinner on the table too.
Don’t be quick to judge someone’s relationship with God. Some sit quietly and listen. Some look distracted while they listen. Some look asleep while they listen, but that does not mean they have not heard. Nor does it mean some of us have received more from God than others.
John 11:25-26 Jesus said to Martha, I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me though he may die, he shall live. And who ever lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?
Martha proved that she has knowledge, but what does she believe. Knowledge about God is worthless if you don’t believe it.
Martha resorted to the core of her belief without acknowledging Lazarus would rise today.
“Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God… John 11:27, NKJV
DOES THAT DECLARATION SOUND FAMILIAR?
There is an Apostle famous for saying those same words.
About three months before Martha made this declaration, Jesus began talking to his disciples about his death by asking them what the people said about him. The disciples said, “John the Baptist, Elijah, one of the prophets.” Then he asked them who do you say I am? What do you believe? Peter said the same thing Martha did, “You are the Christ the Son of God.”
Do you remember what Jesus said when Peter made that declaration?
Blessed are you [Peter]…for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you but My Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 16:17)
Blessed is Martha for the Father in heaven is giving her the same revelations he gives to Apostles. Being worried and troubled about many things did not stop the Father in Heaven from giving Martha “the one thing that is needed.”
While Martha is outside the city standing in Jesus presence proving her faith is genuine, Mary is home depressed and crying. Do you think Jesus refused to send Mary to the kitchen because he knew Mary needed to be at his feet more than Martha did? Perhaps he knew Mary was not getting the message and Martha already had.
Martha returned home, separated her sister from her comforters and said, “Jesus is calling for you.” I can only speculate what Mary was feeling. I don’t believe she was mad at Jesus. She was hurt and disappointed by his actions. She lost her brother and may have felt like she lost Jesus too. As soon as she heard Jesus wanted to talk to her, she ran to his presence just like Martha did. Martha managed to get out of the house alone. When Mary ran out of the house her comforters followed thinking she was going to the tomb to weep.
Mary entered Jesus presence with her baggage in tow and went to a familiar place. His feet. Her conversation with him began exactly like Martha’s, “If you had been here my brother would not have died” (John 11:32). They had the same expectation that Jesus would come and heal Lazarus, but their response to Jesus was different.
Martha followed that statement with an affirmation that Jesus could still fix this, and declarations of faith. Mary just busted out crying. Her comforters started crying. Maybe his disciples started crying too because they followed him back to Judea believing they were marching to their death, and suddenly they were surrounded by Jews from Jerusalem.
Returning to Bethany, put Jesus life in jeopardy. Jerusalem was two miles away. There are powerful people in Jerusalem who want Jesus dead. But all Mary cared about, Jesus did not show up in time to heal her brother.
What about Jesus life? He put his life in danger to come deal with her problem. But you don’t believe he loves you because he did not come when you thought he should have. And all you can do is cry because he did not do what you expected him to do.
All of this time Mary was crying, depressed and wondering if Jesus loved her, Jesus was planning to do above and beyond what Mary could ask or think.
We have underestimated Martha.
The cares of life and suffering of this world never deterred her conviction that Jesus is the Son of God. She did not need Jesus to send Mary to the kitchen. She did not need him to heal her brother. She still ran to his presence and believed Jesus is the Son of God.
We have heaped such praise upon Mary. Sitting at his feet. Be so spiritual. Insulting God by not believing what he says. Having no concept of who God is and his great power.
If you could be flawed Martha, with unshakeable faith or Mary who sat in his presence with his words going in one ear and out the other who would you be?
Do you want a relationship with Jesus like Martha had or do you want a relationship like Mary had?
IF I could be one of these sisters, I know who I would be. Mary!
Jesus does not speak idle words. Jesus does not forget what he says. Do you remember what Jesus said when Martha complained about Mary? Do you remember what he told his disciples when he received the message that Lazarus was sick? I remember and that is why I would be Mary.
Mary is at his feet crying. Her comforters crying. In the midst of all this crying Jesus groaned and was trouble. The Greek word translated groan in John 11:33 means to snort with anger, to have indignation BUT this is not human anger and indignation. He was not mad at Mary for her lack of concern for him. He was angry that she had spent time at his feet and did not believe. Indignant that she had chosen that good part, but she only had a part.
Luke 19:26 I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but as for the one who has nothing, even what he has will be taken away.
Mary chose a good part that she does not understand. She has nothing. He waited until Lazarus died, so she can believe. That is what he told his disciples and she is one of his disciples.
1 Cor 12:7 the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all
Jesus knew the Spirit would manifest the gift of healing, the ultimate healing, for the profit of all giving all of them a reason to believe he is greater than death. Every one of them will watch him die a brutal death and be buried. They needed to believe that he is stronger than death. They needed the hope of resurrection to endure the sorrow that would overtake them in less than two months.
In his anger and indignation, Jesus said, “Where have you laid him.” Mustard seed faith Martha, unbelieving Mary and her entourage of weeping comforters, Jesus’ disciples who thought they were all going to die, and Jesus headed for Lazarus tomb.
On the way, Jesus wept. Mary’s comforters stopped crying long enough to have a debate. The same debate they were having before Jesus showed up.
John 11:36-37, NKJV
Then the Jews said, “See how He loved him!” 37 And some of them said, “Could not this Man, who opened the eyes of the blind, also have kept this man from dying?”
Translation, if he loved Lazarus he would not have let him die. He would have healed him.
Jesus commanded them to remove the stone. Martha said “Wait”. She was convinced Jesus is the Son of God and on the last day we would be resurrected but not thoroughly convinced her brother would rise from the dead today. It is easy to believe in a miracle that will happen tomorrow, not so easy to believe it will happen today, especially when we run the risk of creating a stench. Martha said, “Lord, if we move the stone it’s gonna stink.
Martha’s weak faith did not deter Jesus. He reminded her that if she believed they would see the glory of God. We know she believed because she allowed them to remove the stone.
The first thing Jesus did was thank God for hearing him, which reminded Martha what she had already said, “I know whatever you ask God, God will give you.” But he said it for the benefit of everyone present, so they could believe God sent him.
He commanded Lazarus to come out, but he did not walk out. Lazarus was bound hand and foot. Jesus told them to untie him and let him go. Jesus command pulled him out of the cave in the say way his command will resurrect our bodies so we can inherit the earth.
Everyone present saw God’s glory. He glories in his ability to give life. He has the power to destroy: Noah’s flood, Sodom and Gomorrah, but that is not what he glories in.
When Mary’s comforters saw God’s glory, some of them became converts, but not all of them. Some of them ran to Jerusalem to tell the Pharisees what Jesus did and that made them so mad they added Lazarus to the hit list.
What about Martha and Mary? Did his glory change their relationship with Jesus?
Six days before Jesus crucifixion he returned to Bethany and they threw a dinner in his honor. John 12:2 “Martha served.” She is still meeting the physical needs of others, preparing the food, setting the table alone. Just because she had a gift of hospitality does not mean Mary did.
To understand what happened to Mary we need to keep two things in mind.
First, the people of Jesus day traveled by foot over dusty roads. When they stopped at a friend’s house they were offered water to wash their own feet or the lowliest servant in the house was given the job of washing dirty feet. Without doubt a job no one coveted.
Second, Paul wrote to the Corinthians that a woman’s long hair is a symbol of her glory.
With those two things in mind look at John 12:33
Then Mary took a pound of very costly oil of spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair, and the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil.
Mary humbled herself below everyone in the house to do the job of a servant. She washed Jesus feet with the most expensive thing she possessed and dried them with her glory. She chose a good part and Jesus gave her more turning the place she sat idle acquiring knowledge into a place to worship. I would be Mary because she now understands the good part she chose and it filled the house with a sweet fragrance.