Martha gets a bad rap. There’s one story in the Bible where her sister, Mary, chose the better place and because of that one story we use her name with a negative connotation, such as “don’t be the Martha, be the Mary” or “You’re such a Martha. You should stop doing so much.”
But I want to share a story about Martha where she shows eager expectant unwavering faith.
The news arrived to Jesus that Lazarus was dead. We can read about this in John 11. There are many lessons that can be learned from this passage but for today, I want to focus on Martha. She may have one story that is used against her, but there is more to Martha and I want to share a positive story about this woman of faith.
Let me start in verse 20; John 11:20
Martha therefore, when she heard Jesus was coming, went to meet Him, but Mary stayed at the house.
Before I move on I want to clarify that Mary is not to be pinned in a negative light in this article. She was an incredible woman. A devoted lover of Jesus. She is a woman that we learn from until this very day. My objective with this article is to demonstrate :
- Martha wasn’t a bad Jesus follower. We can learn a lot from her. One time she was serving Jesus, but didn’t chose the better part. I think we’ve all been there.
- How Martha chose the better part in this passage by demonstrating great faith in who Jesus is
- Running after Jesus in a time of grief and mourning is a beautifully deep expression of unwavering and passionate faith
Note that in verse 20 which I just shared above that Martha went out to meet Jesus, but Mary stayed behind. When we read the entire passage, we can see that Mary was struck with grief over her brother’s death. This is a normal reaction and not unholy or wrong. However, there’s something that sets Martha and Mary apart.
Martha then said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. EVEN NOW I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.”John 11:21-22
Talk about being raw, real, and honest with Jesus. That’s relationship right there. One could read that and think that she was trying to blame Jesus for Lazarus dying, but I see that as an expression of her faith. She wasn’t being rude or casting blame. She was expressing her faith in Jesus. How do I know that? Well, after she tells Jesus that her brother wouldn’t have died if He had been there, she basically says “but you are here now and I know that if you ask your Dad to give Lazarus life, He will do it for you.”
These 2 verses express are filled with undeniable faith in Jesus.
Jesus responds to her faith and an affirmation that what she believes is true. He responds,
Your brother will rise again.
I think Martha was taken back with the speedy response to her faith. I mean, Jesus didn’t even pray to the Father yet and He was already saying he would rise. So she responds with a statement she knows to be true, but I feel she was trying to make sure she understood Jesus’ “Your brother will rise again” statement.
I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.
Jesus then clearly affirms who He is in the context of Martha’s faith. He doesn’t just share what He will do, but He proclaims who He is.
I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?
I HAVE believed that You are the Chirst, the Son of God, even He who comes into the world.
She didn’t start believing because she was there. She already believed!
After this we see that Martha ran back to her house to get Mary because Jesus wanted to see her. There are nuggets to pull from this alone, but I will try and stay focused. When Mary heard that Jesus was calling for her, hope filled her. In that moment the pain of grief didn’t seem to matter. She went out to meet him, and so did everyone who was with her, consoling her. Another nugget…stay focused, Andrea. Stay focused.
When Mary met Jesus, she said to Him,
Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.
Mary, too, had faith that Jesus could have prevented the death of Lazarus. I believe there’s a difference between believing someone can be healed and believing someone can be raised from the dead. The latter ups the ante a bit. It is my opinion that this is what we are seeing here. She knew Jesus could keep Lazarus from dying, but did she believe that Jesus could bring Him back to life. I can’t say that for sure because it doesn’t say that in the text and I don’t know her heart, but that’s what I take from this. Jesus, however, was not threatened by that nor did He look down upon Mary. As a matter of fact Jesus was so grieved by Mary’s sorrow, and everyone else’s around Him, that He too cried with them.
Jesus knew what He was about to do. Jesus knew that Lazarus was going to walk out of that grave. Yet, He didn’t stand up and tell everyone how they lacked faith and it’s because of their lack of faith that Lazarus was in that tomb. No, Jesus had compassion. Jesus empathized with their pain. He cried with them even knowing that soon those tears would be turned into dancing. Why? Because He loved them and He hated to see the pain death was bringing to those people.
We then know the story. Lazarus resurrects. Jesus is Jesus and brings dead things to life.
There are so many lessons in John 11, but this is what I wanted to share for today. I may be sharing this with all of you, but trust me, this lesson today is for me.
Martha & Mary believed that if Jesus was with them Lazarus would not have died. Lazarus died 4 days before Jesus arrived and even still Martha believed without a shadow of a doubt that because Jesus was there Lazarus would be raised from the dead because whatever Jesus asked of the Father, God would do. She, they, had the revelation that Jesus was Christ and that all authority was given to Him by God.
Jesus said that He abides in the Father, the Father abides in Him, and we abide in Him. Therefore, through Jesus Christ we have authority and whatever we ask in His name He shall do so that the Father is glorified. He is our mediator.
Jesus is here with us today by the Holy Spirit. Just as Martha believed that the presence of Jesus could raise a dead man back to life, believe that He is with you and that same presence can bring life where there is death. His presence brings healing where there is sickness. His presence brings wholeness where there is brokenness. His presence brings joy where there is sadness. His presence brings peace where there is turmoil. His presence brings abundance where there is mediocrity. His presence brings unity where there is division. His presence brings reconciliation where there is strife. His presence brings love to where there is hatred.
Jesus is the answer to any and all of life. He is the life to life.
May we all have Martha’s unwavering faith, even in the midst of pain and grief.
Jesus life…therefore, He gives life. He is our LIVING HOPE.