April 4, 2017
“‘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)
All my best friends are Marthas. They may be named Annie or Elizabeth, but they all share the gift of hospitality with a certain Martha in the Bible who opened her home to a bunch of ragtag disciples.
Over the centuries, Martha has gotten a bum rap for wanting her sister, Mary of Bethany, to stop sitting at the feet of Jesus and start serving the meal. “Tell her to help me!” (Luke 10:40, NIV) Martha demanded of their guest of honor.
Jesus was gentle with Martha, but firm. “You are worried and upset about many things” (Luke 10:41, NIV), the Lord told her, discerning the real problem — Martha thought her efforts were of greater significance than Mary’s. Those of us who are talkers and doers often discount others who are listeners and thinkers.
The good news is, Martha learned from Mary’s example, and most of all, from their Master Teacher.
The next time Jesus came to Bethany — summoned by both sisters on behalf of their dying brother, Lazarus — Martha leaped to her feet and ran out to greet Him. “‘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? Was she saying this never would have happened if He’d returned sooner? We’ve seen bold Martha in action before, quick to speak her mind. Was she disappointed or frustrated or confused?
Her next words give us the answer: None of the above. “But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask” (John 11:22, NIV). Instead of being fueled with anger, Martha was filled with faith, certain of the Lord’s ability to restore her brother to life. When she said, “God will,” that shows how trust is talking, not doubt or fear.
Jesus pushed her faith to the next level in telling her “I am the resurrection and the life.” (John 11:25b, NIV) Then He made a mind-boggling, eternity-spanning promise that “whoever lives by believing in me will never die.” (John 11:26a, NIV)
But won’t our bodies eventually wear out? Won’t the usual procession of flowers and sympathy cards and memorial services follow in the wake of our passing? Yes, but our souls, the eternal part of us, will live forever because of Jesus.
Finally, He asked Martha the Big Question, the one we all must answer: “Do you believe this?” (John 11:26b, NIV)
This means all of it: Who He is, and why He came and what that means for us.
Martha’s response was swift and sure, a courageous expression of faith and 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).
Go, Martha! When Jesus said, “I am,” she affirmed, “You are.” Her “I believe” confession is remarkable because she stated His title, His divine nature and His calling. Neither Peter nor John made this bold proclamation that day in Bethany. But a woman did. God’s woman.
Martha’s faith was now as solid and unshakable as her sister Mary’s. She who served the food also dished out the truth: “It is for Your coming that the world has waited” (John 11:27, AMPC).
What Martha did is something you and I can do as well: Profess our faith. Proclaim His truth. Promote His kingdom. This isn’t a one-hour-a-week Jesus we’re dealing with. Someone we sing praises to on Sunday morning, but forget about on Sunday afternoon. Jesus expects and deserves nothing less than our total commitment.
We don’t all need to be dazzling hostesses or confident cooks, just women who throw open the doors of our hearts and make Him welcome.
Lord, teach us how to be as faith-filled as Martha, and trust Your promises, no matter how impossible they seem. Remind us that with You all things are possible, including Your resurrection and ours. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Romans 6:5, “For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his.” (NIV)
Encounter the Savior with Mary of Bethany, Mary of Nazareth and Mary Magdalene: The Women of Easter, a new book from Liz Curtis Higgs.
Liz invites you to celebrate the Easter season on Facebook, on Twitter with daily tweets from The Women of Easter and on Pinterest with colorful boards for three women named Mary, each of whom has a life-changing encounter with Jesus.
REFLECT AND RESPOND:
Jesus said, “You believe in God; believe also in me.” (John 14:1, NIV) Faith in Him and in His Word is the very heart of Easter. This year if someone asks you, “What makes you so sure Jesus rose from the dead?” … what will you tell them?
© 2017 by Liz Curtis Higgs. All rights reserved.