In a previous post of mine - “Women of the Word” - I spoke of a study I had started, looking into the lives of women in Scripture to better understand what the BIBLE has to say of how women were created, how they should be valued, how they are to act, etc. from a BIBLICAL standpoint. When I reached the New Testament I had encountered familiar women with new eyes and discovered “new” ones that I’d never stopped to look at before. One of those familiar accounts I found came in the Gospel accounts. We know them rather well I’d say.
MARY AND MARTHA
Here’s what I have uncovered in brief on Martha (I do mention Mary, but right now my focus is Martha).
*disclaimer: I did “story” many of these women, yet did so trying to keep within contextual and historical correctness. Yes, there is speculation involved but I do not believe any additions or inferences are heretical or wrong. If you disagree, feel free to share, I am always up to learn and correct my view to align with truth. Now, we begin.
These women strike my heart for I feel I embrace both of them in a way. . .that my heart is often at war with itself. . .1/2 of me loves to serve. It gets distracted, anxious, troubled. Sometimes it indeed demands of God to tell others what to do. . .the other 1/2 wants to sit at Jesus’ feet and just be. It wants to listen and learn.
Here’s what I want to draw out. BOTH “1/2s” are loved by Jesus! BOTH “1/2s” are ministered to by Jesus!
Mary demonstrates humility if we simplify it.
Martha, likewise, service.
We often rail on Martha for her shortcomings evidenced by Luke. What we fail to see is that while Jesus confronted her for her issues, He did not condemn her. Yes, He noted her anxiety and trouble but Luke also sees that besides the distraction of service Mary displayed HOSPITALITY (and I think it is pretty impressive)
She opens her home to Jesus and 12 of his friends. . .men who travel a lot so I am sure they can pack away the food and wine (or water or grape juice or whatever you think Jesus and the 12 drank at feasts and meals).
She seeks to serve
But service distracted our dear Martha. She even gave into “societal norms” of today (our feminists would be up in arms); by demanding of Jesus that He make Mary help her in the kitchen. Jesus rebukes not her service but her heart! “. . .one thing is necessary.” The good portion that Mary chose was to focus her attention on JESUS. It was not that Martha needed to shut up and sit down too and not serve - I mean, who would prepare the meal in that case? - but rather it was a choice of her heart.
When we see her a second time, she GOES to Jesus. Again she speaks boldly. Jesus was gentle as she requested/made note of His authority again. Martha then tells Jesus what not to do (John 11:27). In all of this, Jesus desires to show this fiery woman how to involve her heart. When we see her again at a later feast than the first (after Lazarus is raised) we find Martha doing what? SERVING. Yet this time no distraction, anxiety, trouble, demands/complaints are noted. It seems her heart got the message Jesus was trying to teach her; that she would choose the good portion.
It is not that Martha needed to stop serving and stop being a “Martha”. You cannot stop BEING who YOU ARE but you can change how manifest it and you can CHANGE your FOCUS! If you are a “Martha” in a “Martha world” then BE a Martha for pity’s sake, but be one who is focused on making Jesus the point of your service. Involve your heart. A woman like Martha changes not WHO she IS but HOW she ACTS; she is generous, hospitable, bold, outspoken, and active. Jesus seeks not to change that character but rather to develop it.