Bible Reading: John 11:17-28

Martha is often unfairly maligned especially when she is compared with Mary. People remember most of all about Martha that Jesus rebuked her because she was too busy to sit down and listen to Him. That is not, however, a fair representation of Martha.

Martha, whose name in her native Aramaic means bitter and business-like was actually a remarkable woman, but of a very different personality and temperament to her sister Mary. Martha was a good host, steady, predictable, dependable, whilst Mary was a deeper thinker, a risk taker, could be outrageous, and perhaps less easy to understand, and yet Jesus loved them both equally. We must be careful to recognize that each person is special, and has a different personality, gifts, strengths and weaknesses. This is the why it is so important to know who we really are.

Let’s consider some of the strengths of Martha. Firstly, she was hospitable. If we read carefully Luke 10:38 we discover that it was Martha who welcomed Jesus into her home. Hospitality is a remarkable gift. It must have meant so much to Jesus to have a place to be at home, especially as He was known as “the one who had nowhere to lay his head” [Matthew 8:20].

Secondly, Martha had the most amazing gift of serving. When Mary sat and listened to Jesus, Martha was “distracted by much serving” [Luke 10:40]. She was still serving when a feast was held in honour of Jesus after he had raised Lazarus from the dead [John 12:1]. The kitchen and making good meals were her domain. I am guessing that Jesus really enjoyed her cooking. There is nothing wrong with serving, but the problem for Martha was that she got the balance wrong. She was so busy that she did not have time to sit and listen to Jesus. That sounds to me like a modern-day problem. Too busy to spend time with Jesus! Don’t let your gift get in the way of relationship with Jesus!

Thirdly, it was Martha, not Mary, who came to talk to Jesus in a time a crisis. Mary remained sitting in the house [John 11:20]. Martha was a woman of deep faith but was lacking in understanding, and was perhaps a little slow to learn. We see this when she still did not understand when Jesus asked for the stone to be removed from Lazarus’ tomb [John 11:39-40]. However, it was Martha, not Mary who said, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world” [John 11:27]. She was one of the seven witnesses in John’s Gospel who testified to the deity of Christ! How special is that. I trust that today you have seen Martha in a better light than the way she is often represented!


Why is it important to recognize that our personalities are different to others, and also to recognize our strengths and weaknesses?

In today’s frantically busy society we need to take time to be quiet, and to learn from Jesus. What are you doing about this in your own situation?