May 2023

... From the heart of Laura Rooke

Practicing His Presence

Martha Doesn't Deserve a Bad Rap

John 11:25-27 - “Jesus said to her [Martha]: `I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?’ She said to Him, `yes Lord; I have believed that You are the Christ, the Son of God, He Who comes into the world.’” (NASB)

Do you have “Martha time” where you get all your little distractions and chores finished before you can have “Mary time” or uninterrupted time with the Lord?
You may have heard of Martha’s reputation as being consumed with serving, and complaining to Jesus because Mary isn’t helping her.
But before we judge Martha, let’s look closer at her actions.
Hospitality was highly valued, and Martha welcomed Jesus into her home in Bethany, while her sister Mary sat at Jesus’ feet and listened to Him talk. Martha was distracted with preparations to host Jesus. She said to Jesus “Don’t you care?” that Mary wasn’t helping to serve.
Jesus told Martha that she was worried about many things, but the necessary thing is to “listen”. All our striving, all our serving will come to an end, but the Word of God will never be taken away.
 Do you find it easy to avoid or put off your quiet time with the Lord? Do you put all the distractions out of the way first, then find you’ve run out of time and need to run off to that errand or meeting? I call that “Martha time”. Do you feel guilty that you don’t have the strength and wisdom throughout the day to love others the way God wants you to because you didn’t spend time refreshing your
mind and heart in Him first? We can call that “Mary time”.
In the near future, Martha’s and Mary’s faith would be tested; they had no idea of what trial they would be facing. They would need to remember what Jesus said.
Remember, Martha has the reputation of serving. There is even more depth to Martha, as we learn in Jesus’ interaction with her. Jesus loved that family in Bethany. (John 11:3) When Martha’s and Mary’s brother Lazarus got sick, they wanted Jesus to be there with him. But Jesus had left Judea when the Jews wanted to stone Him. His disciples warned Jesus not to return, but because of His
love for His friends He risked returning. Jesus said to walk in the Light, and darkness will not overwhelm us.
When Jesus arrived at their house, Martha was the one who went out to meet Him. Martha believed that Jesus would have prevented her brother’s death. She also believed that Jesus could do whatever God gave Him to do. (v.22). She believed that Jesus is the Son of God, the Christ. (v.27). Jesus acknowledged His deity to her. To be grounded in Jesus’ Word we need to listen to Jesus Christ. We “listen” to God speak to us through His Word, the Bible. We need “Mary” time every day, quiet time in prayer and especially in reading and studying the Bible to hear what God reveals about Himself, and what His will is for us.
Our “Martha time” is having the faith that Jesus is Lord, and spending time serving Him.

Adapted from Davies and Houser, “Choices: Learning from the Women of the Bible”, 2016.