Martha receives undeserved criticism from preachers expounding on the account of Jesus’ visit to the home she shared with her sister, Mary, and brother, Lazarus! Here’s how it’s recorded in The New Living Amplified Paraphrased King James Watkins Version
“Mary! Mary! I need some help in the kitchen!”
Martha glared at her sister who was sitting in the living room with their guest.
“In a minute,” Mary said, without moving.
Martha glanced at her “To Do” list which was artistically penned on home-made paper with ink made from crushed cultivated grapes.
☐ Trim myrtle shrubs into the shape of the twelve disciples.
☐ Float apricot, pomegranate, and Sharon tulip petals in cistern.
☐ French braid donkey’s tail.
☐ Arrange spices in alphabetical order beginning with anise.
☐ Carve wooden bowl in shape of the sea of Galilee. Float matzah balls shaped like fishing boats in the soup.
☐ Field dress lamb. Hand polish mint leaves to be used for the sauce.
☐ Macrame napkin rings from bulrushes.
☐ Make 100 percent organic Jell-O from cow hooves.
Martha was famous throughout Bethany for her home-decorating and party-planning. Now, the most respected teacher in all Palestine, along with his twelve disciples were the guests, and her sister, Mary, had not even set out the hand-painted plates that Martha had just take out of the kiln.
So, being distracted by all the preparations that had to be made, Martha came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better . . . and that’s a good thing.”
But here’s another story where Martha shines (in a more traditional Bible version). Lazarus has recently died.
When Jesus arrived at Bethany, he was told that Lazarus had already been in his grave for four days. Bethany was only a few miles down the road from Jerusalem, and many of the people had come to console Martha and Mary in their loss. When Martha got word that Jesus was coming, she went to meet him. But Mary stayed in the house. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask.”
Jesus told her, “Your brother will rise again.”
“Yes,” Martha said, “he will rise when everyone else rises, at the last day.”
Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?”
“Yes, Lord,” she told him. “I have always believed you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who has come into the world from God” (John 11:17-27 NLT).
Martha had apparently been listening to Jesus as she puttered in the kitchen. Martha understands that:
• Jesus can heal the sick.
• Jesus is the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in him will live, even after dying. Everyone who lives in him and believes in him will never ever die.
• God, the Father, will give Jesus, the Son, whatever he asks.
• Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who has come into the world from God.
Yep, Martha knew a lot more than a good recipe for unleavened bread! Perhaps, she had dropped her ladle and joined Mary at Jesus’ feet. Or perhaps, there’s room for both Mary and Martha in our lives. Maybe it’s a “faith and works” deal. There’s a time for sitting at Jesus’ feet and a time to serve dinner to hungry disciples (see Matthew 25:31-46).
Okay, so Mary is the one sitting at Jesus feet. She’s also the one “who later poured the expensive perfume on the Lord’s feet and wiped them with her hair” (John 11:2). But Martha also deserves credit for truly understanding who Jesus was and his life giving power. And that’s a very good thing!
Copyright © James N. Watkins
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