February 23, 2018
“‘Yes, Lord,’ she replied, ‘I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.’” John 11:27 (NIV)
When I first read about Mary of Bethany sitting at the feet of Jesus, listening to Him speak while her older sister, Martha, focused on serving their guests, I knew which woman I identified with most — Martha, the get-things-done sister. She was a worker, not a sitter. A talker, not a listener.
In the process, though, she missed hearing the Lord’s words of wisdom. “But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made” (Luke 10:40a, NIV).
We know what that looks like. Martha didn’t need the Internet or a smart phone to divert her attention.
True, Martha was doing good things. Useful things. Jesus and His disciples were surely hungry. But Martha was too preoccupied with the meal to pay attention to the Lord. So, interrupting His teaching, “She came to him and asked, ‘Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself?’” (Luke 10:40b, NIV).
Really, Martha? No one cares like Jesus.
I wonder if Jesus shook His head when He said her name. Twice. “‘Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, ‘you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed — or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her’” (Luke 10:41-42, NIV).
“Martha, Martha.” The repetition Jesus used here was a gentle rebuke. Not because what she did was unimportant or unnecessary, but because Martha thought her efforts were of greater significance than Mary’s.
We know this woman. Some of us are this woman. That’s why the Bible introduces us to these two sisters side-by-side — to show us by example what the Lord values most. Devotion. Not distraction.
Here’s the exciting news about Martha: She got the message.
When we meet her again in Scripture, her brother Lazarus lay dead in his grave while Martha and Mary grieved his passing. The sisters had sent a messenger to tell Jesus their brother was ill, but He didn’t arrive until it was too late. Or so it seemed.
“When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home” (John 11:20, NIV). Big sister was on the move. “‘Lord,’ Martha said to Jesus, ‘if you had been here, my brother would not have died” (John 11:21, NIV).
Wait. Was she scolding Jesus, saying this never would have happened if He’d returned sooner?
Her next words provide the answer: “But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask” (John 11:22, NIV). Ah. Instead of being fueled with anger, Martha was filled with faith.
When Jesus assured her Lazarus would rise again, “Martha answered, ‘I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day’” (John 11:24, NIV). However great her heartache, Martha was certain she would see her brother at the end of days.
Then Jesus pushed her faith to the next level and said, “I am the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25a, NIV). He wanted to make this truth abundantly clear for Martha’s sake and for ours. “The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die” (John 11:25b-11:26a, NIV).
Finally, Jesus asked Martha the Big Question, the one we all must answer. “Do you believe this?” (John 11:26b). This is all of it: Who He is, why He came and what that means for us.
Martha’s response was swift and sure, as seen in our key verse today: “‘Yes, Lord,’ she replied, ‘I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world’”(John 11:27, NIV).
Go, Martha! Her commitment to Him was now as solid and unshakable as her sister’s. She who served the food also dished out the truth: “It is for Your coming that the world has waited” (John 11:27b, AMPC).
What Martha did, you and I can do as well. Let’s be devoted, not distracted. Profess our faith and proclaim His truth.
Dear Lord, help us believe and not doubt. When You say, “I am,” let us boldly agree, “You are.” In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
John 20:31, “But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.” (NIV)
Acts 10:43, “All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name.” (NIV)
Prepare for a heart-changing encounter with Jesus through the eyes of three women who knew Him best in Liz Curtis Higgs’s bestseller, The Women of Easter: Encounter the Savior with Mary of Bethany, Mary of Nazareth, and Mary Magdalene. Your mind and emotions will be engaged and your faith strengthened as each scene unfolds, preparing your heart for a richer, deeper Easter experience.
Join Liz Curtis Higgs today on Facebook for a beautiful Easter giveaway and more words of encouragement.
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
The Bible assures us Jesus loved Mary and Martha. Whichever sister you identify with the most, how will you step forward in faith this Easter season and tell your family and friends, “He is risen” …?
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© 2018 by Liz Curtis Higgs. All rights reserved.
Originally published Friday, 23 February 2018.