|Today’s reading is taken from Luke 10:41-42 and John 11:17-27.
Jesus often went to the home of Martha, who was apparently single, whether by choice or circumstances and living in Bethany with her sister Mary and their brother Lazarus. John’s comment shows that Jesus and the family from Bethany were close friends (Jn 11:5). Martha seemed to enjoy her gift of hospitality and her probable position as the older of the two sisters.
Three scenes appear to reveal Martha’s intensity, which the Lord faced with loving firmness, as recorded by Luke (Lk 10:41–42). Martha’s irritation with her sister led to a confrontation with Jesus as, in effect, she blamed him for Mary’s lack of assistance. His loving response was not a condemnation of Martha’s servant’s heart or a rejection of her zealous and gracious hospitality. He simply asked her to reconsider her priorities, to make her choices on the basis of eternal values instead of immediate pressures and he suggested that she allow Mary to make her own choices.
Several months later, Lazarus became ill while Jesus was traveling many miles away. Although the sisters sent for him, by the time the Lord arrived in Bethany, Lazarus was dead and had been buried for four days. Ignoring the custom of mourners to remain in their homes, Martha took the initiative to meet Jesus as he approached the town and to attribute her brother’s untimely death to Jesus’ delay in reaching Bethany (Jn 11:21).
Again, with trusting faith, Martha acknowledged Jesus’ power over death (v. 22). Jesus explained that he himself was the resurrection. She agreed and saw an immediate manifestation of that faith in her brother’s resurrection (v. 44).
The third glimpse of Martha was reported by John (Jn 12:2). The simple fact that Martha assumed hostessing duties once more confirms the fact that her uncommon talents were being used. Undoubtedly she had become a disciple who experienced God’s power in practical service. Jesus, as well as countless others, needed the physical refreshment of Martha’s warm hospitality. She did not consider her homemaking responsibilities as worthless drudgery. She obviously loved her home and counted it joy to pour her energies into the efficient management of her household. Martha is a poignant reminder to every woman of the balance between fellowship with the family and the work necessary to meet their mundane needs.