Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Jesus' Conversations With Women: Martha and the Resurrection

Jesus had many theological conversations with women. For the last few days, I have been thinking about his dialogue with Martha in John 11. Martha gets a bad rap sometimes. We first see her in Luke 10, verses 38-42. In this chapter, she is making preparations for a meal, while her sister Mary sits at Jesus’ feet.

Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.”

And Jesus answered and said to her, “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 10:38-42 (NKJV)

Luke's Gospel tells us she is distracted by much serving. The word distracted makes me think at some point she had been doing what Mary was doing, or perhaps it means that she also should have been sitting with her.

The next time we see her is in John chapter 11 after her brother Lazarus has died. She and Mary send a message to Jesus that Lazarus is sick, but he doesn’t make it there before Lazarus dies. When Jesus is getting ready to enter the village, Martha hears he is coming, and goes out to meet him. This is the dialogue that follows:

So when Jesus came, He found that he had already been in the tomb four days. Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles away. And many of the Jews had joined the women around Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother.

Now Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met Him, but Mary was sitting in the house. Now Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.”

Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”

Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”

Jesus said to her, “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?”

She said to Him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”-John 11:17-27 (NKJV)

This is an amazing conversation and foundational to our lives as Believers. At the beginning of their dialogue, Martha expresses her pain that Jesus was not there when Lazarus was sick, but she goes on to demonstrate her faith in him.

Based on her words, it seems as though Martha has been transformed. No longer do we see the huffy woman in Luke 10 who is perturbed about all her serving. She is a new Martha. It seems as though she has been doing some sitting at Jesus’ feet as well, and she has become the Martha that she was always meant to be.

What caused the change in her? Maybe the answer is found in the conversation itself. They start out talking about Lazarus, but then switch to talking about who Jesus is!

When we first see her in Luke 10, she has her eyes on herself and all that she has to do. In John 11, she has her eyes on Jesus. He even goes on to teach her more in this moment. He switches her focus from in the future, to right now. Jesus says,

I am the resurrection and the life.

He is the resurrection (in the future) and the life (right now). Right now. In this moment. He is “I am.” The word life in that sentence is the Greek word “zoe.” Strong’s Concordance defines it as meaning “life, both of physical (present) and of spiritual (particularly future) existence.”

And then Martha confesses what ever person who has ever entered or will enter the kingdom has said in their heart and with their mouth,

Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.-John 11:17

She focuses her attention on Jesus now. In the moment. And then she receives a miracle. Jesus raises her brother from death.

Something else interesting to note is this event took place shortly before Passover. In John 12, we get to see Jesus and Martha together in Bethany again. Jesus would soon be entombed just as Lazarus was, and he would also be raised again! To prepare for this, Mary anoints Jesus’ feet, and we see Martha serving again. This time there is no protest to Mary being at the feet of Jesus again, just the accomplishment of peaceful service.

As we get ready to celebrate Resurrection Sunday, and always, let us remember to focus our attention on Jesus in the now. In our everyday lives, in each and every situation we face, may the words that He spoke to Martha, go deep down in our hearts,

I Am the Resurrection and the Life.

Many blessings to you as you continue to grow in the knowledge of Him,

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