Not gonna lie (not that I normally do), if the two sisters were to mark out opposite end points of a continuum, I probably fall more often on the Martha side then I do the Mary side. In the past I’ve liked to think of myself as like Mary, the one who is naturally content to serenely find my place at the feet of Jesus and there rest and receive. But, as I get older and maybe more in touch with the real me, I can’t help but think I’m more like Martha. Distracted with many things (if only in my heart and mind). Tending towards being “anxious and troubled” rather than calm and collected. Not always choosing “the good portion.” (Lk. 10:38-42)
Maybe that’s why I have increasingly developed a soft spot in my heart for Martha. Thinking that perhaps God has simply wired some of us more like Martha than Mary, and that Jesus loves both the Marthas and the Marys and loves to be with them both.
And maybe that’s why I find myself feeling a sense of pride (if pride’s the right word) as I read about Martha in John 11 this morning.
Lazarus, Martha and Mary’s brother, is dying. The sisters put out the call to Jesus. Jesus receives their plea but tarries. Lazarus dies. Jesus says to his disciples, “Let’s go wake him up, guys!” (11:1-15)
And, when Jesus hits the outskirts of Bethany, word is sent to the sisters’ house that He’s coming. And true to form, Martha gets up and gets busy and heads out to meet Jesus while “Mary remained seated in the house” (11:20). And then, John records this encounter of the divine kind:
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 from God, God will give you.”
(John 11:21-22 ESV)
What faith! She believed with all her heart that Jesus had power to heal. Had He been there, she thought, He would have. But even now–love those words–but even now, without any doubt, she says, I believe You can do all things. Attagirl Martha! Way to believe!
And here’s what grabs me. Jesus replies, in effect, “You believe? Believe more!”
Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in Me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?”
(John 11:23-26 ESV)
You believe I can do all things, Martha, good! Will you also believe I am the resurrection and the life?
While Jesus does great things with mustards seeds of faith, He desires to grow our faith. Taking what we believe and asking us to believe in Him more. Leveraging the trust we already have He asks us to trust Him more. Jesus patiently, graciously, even though sometimes painfully, seeks to draw out our faith to greater heights.
She said to Him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”
(John 11:27 ESV)
Yes!!! Attagirl again!
No one says “Jesus is Lord” except in the Spirit, according to Paul (1Cor. 12:3). In fact, John writes that you know the Spirit of God is present when someone confesses Christ has come in the flesh from God (1John 4:2). What’s more, Jesus Himself said that those who confess that Christ is the Son of the living God are blessed because it’s not flesh and blood which has revealed such insight, “but My Father in heaven” (Matt. 16:17).
Martha–busy, distracted Martha–stands before the Son of God, filled with the Spirit, confessing only what the Spirit could make known. Blessed because the Father Himself has revealed to her in a deeper way the glory of His Son.
“You believe?” Jesus says, “Believe more. Believe Me.”
By Your grace. For Your glory!