Martha was the sister of Mary and Lazarus whom Jesus raised from the dead (John 11:1-15; 43-44). Martha lived in the village of Bethany with her sister and brother (John 11:1). Jesus was a close friend to this family and frequently visited their home (John 11:17; 12:1–3; Matt. 21:17; Mark 11:1, 11; Luke 19:29).
Martha is first mentioned in Luke 10 when Jesus visited them seeking a quiet time away from His public life. Martha was so busy trying to provide the proper hospitality to Jesus who was weary from traveling while Mary was sitting at Jesus’ feet listening to all that He had to say. And when Martha complained to Jesus about her sister Mary, Jesus answered her saying “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:41,42). The material things in which Martha was so busy with didn’t have eternal value (Matthew 12:13–21; 16:25, 26). In contrast, Mary was storing up “a treasure in the heavens that does not fail” (Luke 12:33; Matt. 6:19–21).
Martha is again mentioned in John 11 when Jesus raised her brother Lazarus from the dead. After the death of Lazarus, when Jesus came to their village, Martha told Jesus sorrowfully, “If you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask” (John 11:21–22). Martha declared her great faith in Jesus. And He answered her saying, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:26). And then Martha responded, “Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world” (v. 27). Martha reaffirmed her faith in Jesus as the Messiah, and thus indirectly in what He has just asserted. Jesus, then, raised Lazarus from the dead and reunited the sisters with their beloved brother. The raising of Lazarus from the dead was yet another undeniable proof to the deity of Christ.
The last mention of Martha is at the house of Simon the leper, a few days before Christ’s crucifixion ( John 12:1-8; Matthew 26:1-6; Mark 14:3-9). At that time, Martha was again helping in the preparations of the invitation and was a faithful servant in honor of her beloved Master and friend. Her sister Mary, moved by the Holy Spirit, broke an alabaster jar of very expensive perfume and poured it on Jesus’ head and feet and wiped them with her hair. Sadly, some of the disciples criticized her of wasting money that could have be given to the poor. But Jesus defended her saying, “Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a good work for Me. For you have the poor with you always, but Me you do not have always. For in pouring this fragrant oil on My body, she did it for My burial. Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her” (Matthew 26:10-13).
The love of Martha for her Master will be always an example to all women of all ages showing that true devotion must be translated in a life of service while maintaining harmony between ministry and worship.
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In His service,
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