It generally conjures up images of an exasperated woman standing in her kitchen, overwhelmed at the onslaught of work for her house full of guests, spouting off a complaint to THE guest, who happened to be Christ himself, and imploring Him to do something about her sister Mary who wasn’t helping.
Women are often encouraged to be more like Mary…she chose the ‘good portion.’ Our natural inclination then, is to assign or imply a ‘bad portion’ to Martha, which would be a disservice, not only to Martha and those who identify with her, but to the greater understanding of who she was because of Christ and the depth of her fellowship with Him.
“…Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha…”
Martha was a woman who was discipled by, fellowshipped with, ministered to and instructed by Jesus. In turn, Martha was a disciple of, fellowshipped with, ministered to and served Jesus.
“… welcomed Him into her home.”
Martha was hospitable. Always welcoming.
“Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.”
Martha, in her tumult, took her sharp inquisition to Jesus….‘she went up to Him’ portraying a sense of comfort to share her frustration honestly and seek His intervention.
Knowing Martha’s heart Jesus gently rebuked her with few words and a double salutation emphasizing the significance of what He was conveying to her. The ‘good portion’ is Jesus. He would not take that away from Mary. Jesus exhorted Martha to regain focus of what was the ‘good portion’ whether serving a house full of guests or sitting at His feet. He was addressing Martha’s heart attitude not her works. With a kindred warmth and familial directness Jesus restored Martha and her priorities. Who worthier to set us straight then the One who knows us better than we know ourselves?
“Now Jesus loved Martha…”
He. Loved. Her. This is reminiscent of Peter where after Jesus’ tomb was found empty the angel said to Mary (Magdalene), “Go tell His disciples and Peter…” The Lord purposed the angel to mention Peter by name. What a comfort it must have been to Peter, who was in great sorrow over his failure when he denied Christ three times, to know that the Lord sent for him personally. And so it was with Martha. She is mentioned by name in the scriptures as one whom Jesus loved.
“So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him…”
Again, Martha went to Jesus without hesitation.
“Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
Martha believed in Jesus’ power to heal.
“But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.”
Martha seemed to comprehend the strong connection between Jesus and God even if she hadn’t yet grasp the magnitude. She was willing to put her faith in Jesus that His petitions would bring good to the situation at hand. She had faith in Jesus.
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”
“Do you believe this?” That is the ultimate question, isn’t it? And Martha was in the presence of the Lord as He asked it of her.
She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”
Can you imagine being face to face with the Lord and announcing, “Yes Lord, I believe!” Martha’s faith was actualized.
Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.”
Martha was practical yet curious, she knew it would stink but sought out Jesus’ reassurance. What is most striking is that she is standing next to Jesus at the tomb of her brother. These are not only followers of Jesus, but these are His friends. Close, personal friends, like family. Martha was a friend of Jesus.
“Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?”
Martha indeed saw the glory of God as Jesus raised her dead brother to life. It would be the foreshadowing of His own death and resurrection as well as that of His followers. Affirming that He is the resurrection and the everlasting life.
“Jesus therefore came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. So they gave a dinner for him there. Martha served…”
Martha was a devoted servant of Jesus Christ.
“Martha was a noble and godly woman with a servant’s heart and a rare capacity for work. Mary was nobler still, with an unusual predisposition for worship and wisdom. Both were remarkable in their own ways. If we weigh their gifts and their instincts together, they give us a wonderful example to follow. May we diligently cultivate the best instincts of both of these extraordinary women.” ~John MacArthur
For further studying please consider the following: