Luke 10: 40-42
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.”
Martha and Mary are two sisters with whom almost all of us are familiar with. In the above passage we see that Jesus came to pay them a visit. Martha was much troubled with serving and looking after the household chores whereas Mary chose to quietly sit at Jesus’ feet and learn from Him. Mary’s action was highly favored in Jesus’ sight as well and He commended her for “choosing the good part“. Now, I do not believe that Mary was a lazy person. We can quite rightly assume that she too took part in her share of taking care of household matters. But, Jesus came to visit them. The difference we see is in the sisters’ reaction to His visit. While Martha went about doing what she always did, Mary dropped everything because she knew and understood the significance of having her Savior visit her home. She lost no time and scrambled to the opportunity of learning directly from Him.
When we read John 11, we are taken to another significant event with relation to the sisters – Jesus raised Lazarus, their brother, from the dead. Jesus did not arrive at the time Lazarus was sick (which was what was expected). Instead, He chose to come after Lazarus died. In v. 21, 22, we read about Martha’s reaction to His arrival.
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.”
She proclaims of her utmost belief in Jesus to perform any miracle. However, we see a very contrasting reply in v. 39, when Jesus told them to roll the stone away from Lazarus’ tomb. Martha was the first to oppose in words that seem to convey the message that there is nothing Jesus can do now.
Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of him who was dead, said to Him, “Lord, by this time there is a stench, for he has been dead four days.”
Her faith was not deeply founded as Mary’s was. After Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, we read in John 12:2, 3 –
There they made Him a supper; and Martha served, but Lazarus was one of those who sat at the table with Him. Then Mary took a pound of very costly oil of spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair.
A striking difference can be seen in the sisters’ expressions. Jesus had just performed one of the greatest miracles in His walk on earth. Even after being a witness to Lazarus’ resurrection, Martha continues doing what she did from before – serve and take care of household matters, whereas Mary, who understood the significance of the miracle performed found a way to express her love and gratitude to Jesus. There seems to be no indication of any effect the miracle had on Martha.
Just think of it – everyday we see, we hear, we know the amazing miracles that God performs in our lives and that of others. Yet, if only we are sensitive to His Word and have a daily relationship with Him, will it ever make a difference in our lives; or else, like Martha, we may hear, we may witness Christ’s manifold miracles and yet be so insensitive that we go about our usual activities as if nothing ever happened. Let’s learn from Mary’s example – to give thanks, to give our offering of love and gratitude to Jesus for all that He is and has done for us.