“If you are a Martha, God sees your labor of love. If you’re a Mary, He delights in your worship. If you’re a Lazarus, He promises to honor your testimony. There’s a place at the table for all of us. Jn 12:2”
I recently saw the above statements posted on Facebook, to which one woman replied, “I don’t want to be a Martha anymore.” Not really sure what she meant by that, but I think most of us, when we think of Martha, remember most the Martha of Luke 10 – so busy with her serving that she told Jesus that He should tell her sister to help. To which Jesus replied, “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” (v. 41-42)
And if this was the only time Martha was mentioned, I guess we could hold her up as the one who thought her work was most important and that Mary was just being lazy. But read on through chapters 11 and 12 of John, and we see much more of Martha’s story.
We know the story of the death of Lazarus, and how Jesus delayed going when He heard Lazarus was sick. When He finally arrived in Bethany, Martha was the first to run out to greet Him. And she affirmed not only that she knew if Jesus had been there He could have healed Lazarus, but also that even then – 4 days after Lazarus died – that God would do for Jesus whatever He asked. Let that sink in. She knew that Jesus could raise her brother from the dead!
And then, don’t miss this, in John 11:25-26, Jesus makes the following statement, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.” And then asks her, “Do you believe this?” Her answer reveals not only that she believed Jesus had the power over death, but that she knew exactly Who He was. “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.” (v 11:27)
Martha is one of the few named individuals in the Gospels who actually declared, “I believe/know that you are the Messiah.” Andrew, brother of Peter, in John 1:14, gets his brother and tells him, “We have found the Messiah.”
And we remember Peter’s declaration, found in 3 of the Gospels (Matt 16:16; Mark 8:29; Luke 9:20). And then there was the Samaritan women, who told the people of her village, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be the Messiah?” (John 4:29)
I think it’s pretty cool that Scripture records that Martha, who often gets criticized for her obsession with serving, was one of the few credited with declaring her believe in Who Jesus actually was. I think somewhere between John 10 and 11, Martha grew in her understanding of Who Jesus was. And although in John 12, we still see Martha serving, I believe it was with a new heart attitude – knowing that it was not the serving that was utmost importance but rather the One she was serving.
Serving, when done for the right reason and with the right heart attitude, is worship. Let’s not be so quick to bash Martha, but rather in our service, like Martha in John 12, do it humbly and with the right heart motivation.
Written by Ruth Schmidt: Ruth Schmidt has worked at America’s Keswick since 1985. She currently serves as Administrative Assistant to Bill Welte.
Think About This: “Any concern too small to be turned into a prayer is too small to be made into a burden.” ―
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