Saturday, June 8, 2013

Posted by Erin Posted on 1:46 PM | No comments

Chosen Series: Part 10

Mary and Martha

Spirit and Flesh

The truth is, even when we understand that we are chosen, even when we know we are accepted by God in spite of all our flaws and in spite of all our lawfulness, we will struggle with identity until we are free of this skin and are seeing God face-to-face. Our flesh will always crave assurance from those who cannot or will not give consistent, unconditional acceptance and approval.

Mary and Martha both live in us all. Mary, sitting at the feet of Christ, enjoying her security in their relationship, soaking up the acceptance of the one from whom she cannot earn it. And Martha, working with all her might to provide the most hospitable environment to show Jesus she loves him and to hear him say she is good.

So let's meet these sisters, but as the individuals that they are.

Martha. We first meet her when her brother, Lazarus, is dying. But we see that this is not the first meeting for Jesus and Martha. In John 11:5 we are told that Jesus loved this family. Who knows when they first met, but Martha is certainly no stranger. Jesus was a Rabbi, and could have intimidated those around him. Women, in particular should have been careful with their words around such a man, but we see that Martha and her sister are at ease with him. Martha speaks freely to Jesus and He is gentle in return.

Martha and her sister send for Jesus to come heal Lazarus. And Jesus delays. He even says why he's waiting, so that his followers would believe. But Martha is practical and when Jesus arrives 4 days late, she goes out to meet Jesus and explain how rude it is to show up late. But she is quick to add "the right response" to her rebuke. She tells 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.” Jesus is not shaken by her blunt words or her quick turn to show she is still the good disciple. He tells her that her brother will be raised and like a good church girl, she quotes God's promises to Jesus. "Yes, I know that when we all get to heaven, Lazarus will be alive." Jesus asks if she believes him and she is quick to say yes. And she may believe him, but she certainly doesn't understand him. Even when Jesus is rolling the stone away from Lazarus' tomb, Martha is being practical. "Um, he's been in there for FOUR DAYS. It will stink!"

Oh, Martha. Oh, me. I do this too at times. I may so frustrated with God's timing and in my heart may be seething, but in conversation I am quick to let people know that I haven't fallen off the wagon. I quote promises about how good God is and how his timing is perfect. Afterall, I have a reputation to uphold. Anyone? Anyone?

In John 12, Jesus is still with Martha and her siblings. And we see Martha doing what she seems to do best: serving. Lazarus is reclining (and rightfully so, he just died and came back to life...he should take it easy.) Mary is picking out the right perfume for the event. And dutiful Martha is bustling about serving the meal. Bless her hospitable heart. 

We see her once more when Jesus visits her home. And again, we see Martha serving. Luke, in 10:40 even tells us she was distracted with her serving. 

Jesus speaks to her about her anxiety and tells her to rest. 

Martha was a doer. And perhaps, honestly gifted in hospitality. She was a good girl. She knew her role and filled it well, taking care of her siblings and of her guests. Martha was bold in speaking her mind when she felt she was in the right, but also quick to not lose face by saying something that may be insulting. 

I have much of Martha in my own soul. Seeing needs and filling them because someone has to. Feeling the depth of injustice in my own life and speaking freely about the wrongs done to me, but always sweeping back over my footprints so that the words of hurt cannot be used against my reputation as a good girl, a woman of faith, a woman who believes Jesus. And, I'm certain you have a Martha soul too. Not only, but in part. You have seasons of striving and feeling rejected and ignored. Bless our hearts. It is so much work keeping up appearances.

Let the weight on Martha's shoulders sit with you today. She is practical but to what gain? Don't beat her up and don't beat yourself up. But, let's be honest about the callouses on our hands and hearts from all the striving.

And next time we will meet sweet little Mary.

Questions for today:
1. What about Martha strikes a chord with you?
2. In what area are you striving to keep up appearances?
3. What promises are you quick to use to cover over your frustration with God's timing?
Happy Journey!