Monday, February 2, 2015
I have heard many, many sermons and bible studies about the story found in the 10th Chapter of Luke regarding Martha and Mary, the sisters of Lazarus, but to be honest, I don’t recall anyone ever portraying Martha in a good light. In fact, some pastors and teachers have gone to great lengths in discrediting and maligning her. Though they bring out good points in doing so, the majority of them fail to mention her good character traits, much less commend her for them. Today, I will try to do the latter. Here is the account: Jesus and His Disciples came to dinner at Martha’s house in Bethany, a village about two miles from Jerusalem. While Martha was overly busy and preoccupied with accommodating all her guests, Mary was sitting at Jesus’ feet while He taught those assembled. Martha became agitated at the thought of her “lazy” sister not helping her so she came to Him, probably interrupting His discourse, saying: "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself ? Tell her to help me!" (verse 40) Jesus replied, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (verses 41-42)
Interestingly, the name Martha means bitter and provoking, and to many, it seems to justify her parents decision to name her that. She was probably a widow and the eldest of the family and very likely Mary and Lazarus lived with her. If Martha strikes you as being bossy and aggressive, aren’t the oldest siblings usually the ones who take charge of the family’s matters, sometimes even when the parents are still alive? Nevertheless, permit me to single out the good points I see in her, for she wasn’t all bad as some would lead you to believe. For starters, how about her apparent willingness to host and feed a crowd? Jesus hardly ever went anywhere without His Disciples and many others who just tagged along. Would we be so willing to do the same, especially when our guests arrive without warning, as seemed to be the case on this occasion? How about her willingness to constantly have Him at her home even though she was aware that His presence there put her and the rest of her family in danger? On the day when they heard that Jesus was coming, four days after her brother Lazarus’ death, she was the first to go out and meet Him while Mary stayed at home. (See John 11:20) How about her faith in Christ and in His power? These are her words in the next two verses " If you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask." How about her complaint about her sister Mary? Did it not arise due to her sincere desire to provide the best for her Savior? Would not the world be a little bit better if there were more people who have this mindset?
Okay, now lets consider her sin, if it be called that: She worried more than she should have about serving Christ and thought others should serve Him with the same energy and zeal as her. When they did not, she became frustrated and vexed her own heart in the process. Everyone who serves the Lord can have a “Martha” moment, Peter did too. (See John 21:20-22) But know this: The Lord will side with and comfort those that have been offended, not so much those who offend. The great Bible Commentator, Matthew Henry wrote:“ He will be the patron of the poor and injured, but not of the turbulent and injurious.” Even so, Jesus, because He loved her dearly, was gentle with her and tried to reason with her for her own good. I hate to sound negative but apart from Christ’s power to transform, people like Martha have very little hope of ever changing. In the end, however, this categorizes people like her: “You can’t do with them, and you can’t do without them.” If you have people like her in your life, thank God for them because their "good" easily outweighs their "bad."
Memory verse for the week: (2 Timothy 2:24) “And the Lord's servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful.”