Jesus spent many hours, in fact, many days, in the company and home of those three siblings, Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. You do realize it was probably Martha’s house: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house, Luke 10:38, which means the sacred duty of hospitality lay squarely on her shoulders. No wonder she was so consumed by it.
But consider this wonderful attitude of Martha’s: Jesus, for whom she has labored so hard, comes into her home and delivers a scolding that is recorded for all posterity simply because she works so long to give him her best (or so it appears), and still she serves him. How many of my sisters might have thought, “The ungrateful lout! See if I ever invite him here again.” I would have been hard-pressed not to think those words myself. Do you think you wouldn’t have thought them? How do you feel and react when your husband indicates that he does not like a meal you have worked on for several hours? Aha! I thought so.
But Martha did not react that way. She changed. I know this because she served him again, shortly before his death (John 12), and though Mary was once again sitting at his feet, Martha never uttered a complaint against her. And Jesus did not correct Martha, which proves that it was not the serving itself that was the problem, it was the attitude.
Perhaps it was simply that she had decided what Mary needed to be doing instead of focusing on herself. Some of us are more suited to being Marys and some to being Marthas. The Lord had a physical body that needed serving. It was not wrong for Martha to feed and house him. It was wrong, though, for her to decide what Mary’s obligations were and then resent her for not fulfilling them. That was between Mary and the Lord, not between the two sisters. When we all take care of our own duties to the best of our abilities, the Lord will be served in every area.
And here is another thing for which to praise Martha. Imagine the Lord spent as much time in your home as he did with these three beloved friends of his. Just how many times would he be scolding you? I would be lucky not to have more than one a day recorded in my case, much less one in about three years’ time. Yet this poor woman, who served him faithfully, who corrected her attitude when he spoke to her, who had the faith to say, If you had been here my brother would not have died, and even now I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you, John 11:21,22, this woman we hold up for all generations as a bad example.
I hope in my lifetime I can do as well as she did.
Jesus said unto [Martha] I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes on me, though he die, yet shall he live; and whoever lives and believes on me shall never die. Do you believe this? She said unto him, Yes, Lord, I have believed that you are the Christ, the Son of God, even he who comes into the world. John 11:25-27.