Has there ever been a woman in your life in which you had conflict, contentions or just rubbed you the wrong way? Never, right?? Suuuure…………
Continuing with the Women in the Life of Christ series, this question makes me think of the well-known Bible sister-duo: Mary and Martha. We love those gals, don’t we? Mary and Martha’s journey is so classic and life applicable to our own journeys. We’ve heard so many stories and sermons, and how many of us have contemplated our “martha-ness” or “mary-ness”?
I invite you, however, to look with fresh eyes at our sister-friends and see if we can glean something new from them. As I read the three familiar passages of Mary and Martha, I see something I have never seen before, and it intrigues and inspires me. Please bear with me as I build my case.
We all know the first scriptural encounter with Mary and Martha in Luke 10:38-42. http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke%2010:38-42&version=NLT We find Martha working in the kitchen and preparing the meal. And, Mary is sitting at the feet of Jesus, soaking up His every word. Don’t you kind of get the feeling that this tension has been between Mary and Martha for a while? We hear the resentment in Martha’s voice and maybe secretly cheer her on to hope that Jesus will finally give her the satisfaction that is likely overdue. Instead, Jesus says Mary has chosen the better thing.
Fast forward a bit to the tomb of Lazarus- http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=john%2011:%2017-44&version=NLT and we find Mary and Martha grieving their brother’s death. When Jesus finally arrives, both of the women express their faith knowing that Jesus could have healed their brother. But they also express their frustration by saying “but Lord, if you had only been here….”.
Jesus knows the sisters believe in Him that He can heal. They were fully confident that Jesus could have healed their brother. But in this moment, Jesus asks “Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?” Jesus was saying “I know your faith is big enough to believe for healing, but is your faith big enough to believe me for resurrection from the dead?”
Among the many reasons Jesus raised Lazarus that day, I believe Jesus was stretching the faith of Mary and Martha. I’d say, their faith was certainly bigger and firmer from that day on.
Finally, we see Mary and Martha hosting another dinner in Jesus’ honor- http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John%2012:1-3&version=NLT.
What does it say that Martha is doing? She is still serving. What does it say Mary is doing? She is anointing Jesus’ feet with the jar of oil. Ok, what has changed? It looks as if things are the same for the sisters. But look a little deeper. What is missing from this scene? I don’t see any reference or hint of any resentment or contention between Mary and Martha. I see them operating in their giftings out of their relationship with Christ.
Something happened between that first dinner and the second dinner. Somehow their faith was stretched and their relationship with Jesus blossomed. Martha, especially, went from serving because she had to, to serving out of her overflow with Him. Mary continues sitting at His feet, but her worship becomes even more extravagent. They aren’t resenting each other because they are serving out of their love for Him. Instead of pulling against each other like at the first dinner, their ministries were complimenting each other.
How many times have you done something because you had to? How many times have you fulfilled your ministry because you were supposed? How many times have you looked across the room and wondered “why isn’t she pulling her weight?”
When we operate in our giftings out of our overflowing love for Christ, our service becomes a joy, our ministry compliments each other, and Christ is exalted. When we live like this, there is unity in the Body of Christ.
How is the Resurrection and the Life stretching your faith? How have you learned to operate in your gifts?