For Sunday School graduates, the name Martha is associated with the woman who was so busy preparing dinner that she didn’t realize that she was in the presence of her Savior. Martha is chided for being so worried about worldly things, that she wasn’t concerned with things of heaven. Her sister, Mary, however is revered for her demonstration of worship at Jesus’ feet.
Surely this wasn’t the first time in history that one sister has been praised, while another was derided, and it certainly won’t be the last. However, this portrayal is incomplete. While this might be the story that is most often associated with Martha, it’s not the only time that she is mentioned in the Bible. At her brother’s Lazurus’ death she also plays a central role. This time however, she’s the one who should be commended.
Lazurus had died and the sisters were grieving. When Jesus, their friend, finally came, it was Martha who ran out and greeted him. It was Martha who first acknowledged that had Jesus wanted to, He could have prevented Lazurus’ death. It was Martha who testified that God would give Jesus whatever He asked. Finally, it was Martha who first made a profession of faith; she was the one who stated that Jesus was the Christ.
I’d like to think that maybe Mary learned the truth about worship from this experience. With Lazurus dead, she stayed at the house, while her sister Martha ran to the Lord’s presence. Maybe it was her sister’s example of real-life faith that caused her to realize the importance of learning who Christ was. Maybe her lifestyle of worship was the direct result of her sister’s proclamation.
I don’t know if this is the case, and this side of heaven I doubt I ever will. But maybe Martha’s a model to follow after all.