A Favoured Home
Jesus has developed some very special friendships beyond His close relationship with the twelve disciples. These special friends include one brother named Lazarus and his two sisters Mary and Martha. One day, Jesus and his team of twelve pass by their home and are invited to stay for a meal, as you can read in Luke 10:38
As Jesus and His disciples were on their way, He came to a village where a woman named Martha, opened her home to Him.
It does mean a lot of extra work for Martha, for suddenly this meal is not just for three people, but for sixteen people, including thirteen very hungry men, since these men will have been on the road for a few hours already and their previous meal may well have been some time ago. So Martha goes to work. First of all, she must make a quick trip back to the market. Hopefully, she will still be able to get what she needs so she can provide her guests with an excellent meal. After all, she is known in the village for her culinary skills. Once back from the market, she gets to work in the kitchen. But where is her sister Mary? Let’s read Luke 10:39 to find out She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what He said.
(Martha) I have had quite a day today. It began as normal. I got up at my usual time and did my household duties as normal. But then everything changed when there was a knock in the door. I opened the door and in front of me stood 13 men. Yes, you have heard it right,…. 13 men. And these 13 men looked hungry. Being a good and capable housewide, I knew what that meant… I should invite them in and prepare a meal for them. Moreover, these 13 men were not unknown to me for they were Jesus and His 12 disciples. So, of course, I invited them into my home (Luke 10:38). Once I had them settled in, I disappeared into my kitchen for I had to check what food I had for them. I soon realised I did not have sufficient stock to feed these 13 hungry men to I hurried to the marker to see what I could buy for them for I wanted to give them an excellent meal. After all I am known as a wonderful cook. Before leaving I told my sister Mary to already start with whatever preparation she could. However, when I returned Mary was not in the kitchen doing what I had told her to do. Where was she? Did she not know that the place of any woman in our society is in the kitchen? I decided I needed to look for her and to my shock I discovered that she was sitting at the feet of Jesus (Luke 10:39)… No woman in our society would ever do such a thing. Moveover, no teacher would ever allow a woman to sit at his feet. But Jesus was here allowing my sister Mary to sit at His feet to be taught by Him. Did He not realise that could cost Him His reputation? I knew I should speak to Jesus and tell Him to send my sister to the kitchen to help me for I was sure that He would agree with me (Luke 10:40). But He did not…Instead He showed me that I had allowed the pressure of that moment to over take me and that Mary had chosen what was better and that what she had chosen would not be taken from her (Luke 10:41-42). I am very grateful to Jesus for what I learned today.
Does this mean that Martha does not love the Lord Jesus? No, not at all, but she remains that practical person, as we can see in John 11, where we read the story of the illness of their brother Lazarus. Let’s read John 11:1-4 Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped His feet with her hair. So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.” When He heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.”
(Martha) Yes, my brother Lazarus got very ill and so Mary and I sent a message to Jesus to let Him know about Lazarus’ serious condition (John 11:1-3). We expected Jesus to come to us very quickly. But He did not and because He did not come to us when we needed Him to, Lazarus died (John 11:14). And we had no choice but to bury him. Mary and I were so confused about Jesus’ behaviour towards us for we knew that Jesus could heal Lazarus. And we did not understand why He had chosen not to do so.
Then four days after the funeral of Lazarus we heard that Jesus had come to our village (John 11:17). I decided to meet Him for I needed to let Him know how I felt about the fact that He had not come in time to heal my brother (John 11:20-21). He did bring me a measure of comfort at that time for He confirmed to me that He is the Resurrection and the Life (John 11:25).
Martha then goes home to tell her sister Mary Jesus has arrived in the village, and would like to see her, as you can read in John 11:28 And after she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside. “The Teacher is here,” she said, “and is asking for you.”
(Mary) I did go and see Jesus (John 11:29). The moment I saw Him, I fell at His feet and spoke using the same words that Martha had used before, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died” (John 11:32). I did not tell him off like Martha had done. I just shared with Him my grief and Jesus responded by asking where we had buried Lazarus (John 11:33-34). And He too wept (John 11:35). We then went to the tomb.
Martha, Mary and many of the neighbours joined Jesus at the tomb, as we know from John 11:38-39a Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. “Take away the stone,” he said.
(Martha) Mary, I and many of our neighbours joined Jesus at the tomb. He asked us to do something very strange for He asked us to remove the stone from the tomb (John 11:39a). I knew that would not be a good thing to do for Lazarus’ body had been in that tomb for four days already and there would be a terrible odour. Jesus would not have realised that since He had only just arrived on the scene and had not been there at the funeral four days ago so I decided I needed to warn Jesus of the terrible smell if we did indeed remove the stone (John 11:39b). But Jesus did not take notice of my words and had us remove the stone anyway. And He then called for Lazarus to come out. And Lazarus did (John 11:44)…. My brother came out of that tomb, alive and well!
Of course, the two sisters are overjoyed that their brother has come back to life, and so another dinner is prepared in honour of Jesus. We can find this story in John 12. Let’s read John 12:1-2 Six days before the Passover, Jesus arrived at Bethany, where Lazarus lived, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honour. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with them.
Martha is in her element preparing her special dishes for Jesus. She wants to show Him her love and gratitude for giving them back their brother Lazarus. Mary wants to show Jesus her love and gratitude as well but she does it in a different way, as we can read in John 12:3 Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped His feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.
(Mary)Have you ever had your brother come back to life? I don’t think but it happened to Martha and I. Just the other day, Jesus gave us back our brother (John 12:1). And he had been dead for four days. So we were overjoyed as you can imagine and we were wondering how we could show Him our gratitude. The opportunity came tonight for He and His 12 disciples came to our home for dinner. Martha, of course, went to the kitchen and prepared a most delicious meal (John 12:2)!! But I am not such a great cook so I wanted to show Him my gratitude in a different way. And it then came to me what I should do. This is what I did; halfway the meal I slipped from the table and went into my bedroom where I looked for my most treasured possession, a bottle of nard, a very expensive perfume. I then quietly went back into the dining room, moved behind Jesus and poured the perfume over his feet. I then loosened my hair and dried His feet with my hair, even though everyone would have been shocked by my action for no woman would loosen her hair in public (John 12:3). But I did not care about my dignity. All I cared about was showing my love and gratitude to Jesus. Just as Martha showed her love and gratitude by cooking this most delicious meal for Him. I remember that Judas complained a great deal but Jesus told him off for doing so (John 12:4-6) for Jesus understood why I did what I did.
Yes, Jesus does tell Judas in no uncertain terms what He thinks of Judas’ complaint for He knows the reason why Mary poured the perfume on His feet, as we can read in John12:7-8 “Leave her alone, “Jesus replied. “It was intended that she should save this perfume for My burial. You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have Me.”
Jesus understands that she has done this to prepare Him for His burial. And Mary, very likely, knows that the time for His crucifixion is near. Other disciples may not have grasped that fact. But spending time at His feet has helped her to understand that Jesus has come into the world to die for her, and that the time of His death is close at hand.
These two sisters both love the Lord and both show it in their own way. I wonder who you can identify with most. You may say, “I can really identify with Martha for I am a very practical person like she is. I can see myself saying and doing the same things she did”. Or you may say, “I can identify more with Mary for I love to sit and pray and meditate on God’s Word.”
I would like to suggest that we can learn from both women. For those of us who tend to be more practical, Mary can teach us to sit at the feet of Jesus. Of course, today we cannot literally sit at His feet but we can sense His Presence with us when we read His Word and when we pray. But the Lord does not only want us to be like Mary and sit at His feet 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, so we can learn from Him. He wants us to be like Martha as well, meaning He would like for us to do the things He has prepared for us to do, as we can read in Ephesians 2:10 For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
When we spend time in His Presence, reading His Word and praying, the Lord will begin to give us a sense what He has for us to do. Moreover, He will give us the ability to do whatever it is He has prepared for us to do so we will be able to do it well and be a blessing to others.
The next story we are going to look at is about two women who ministered to Jesus.