Martha and Mary are best known as the sisters of Lazarus, whom Jesus called out of the grave (John 11). The family, including their dad, “Simon, the Leper” (Matthew 26:6; Mark 14:3) became dear friends and followers of Jesus (John 11:5). Whether Jesus healed Simon of his leprosy, or not, we don’t know. If so, then that, along with the miraculous raising of Lazarus, fostered an abounding love for their Savior and Friend!
Mary and Martha were sisters, and therefore similar in many ways... But they were individuals, and quite distinctive.
Martha was a worker. Mary was a worshipper.
It seems that every time we see Mary, she is on her knees before the Master. She’s the girl in Steve Green’s beautiful song...
“One day a plain village woman, Driven by love for her Lord Recklessly poured out a valuable essence, Disregarding the scorn... Broken and spilled out, Just for love of you Jesus My most precious treasure, Lavished on Thee Broken and spilled out, And poured at Your feet In sweet abandon, Let me be spilled out, And used up for Thee”
In Luke’s tenth chapter, we find Mary on her knees again. “Mary ... sat at the Lord’s feet and was listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks, and she came up and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to serve alone? So tell her to give me a hand” (Luke 10:39-40, CSB).
Martha, the worker, was ticked-off at her sister, Mary, the worshipper, and couldn’t understand why Jesus didn’t give her the what-for about a-thing-or-two!
“The Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has made the right choice” (Luke 10:41-42, CSB).
Martha was a worker. Martha’s mantra was, blessed are the busy! Serving, doing, working ... that’s good. We’re “created for good works” (Ephesians 2:10) and we demonstrate our faithfulness by our works (James 2:17-20).
Jesus, though, warned Martha that she was so busy doing the good stuff that she was missing the best stuff!
“Martha! Martha!” Jesus seems to be saying, “What you do with the Master is more important than what you do for him!”
Work is good. Worship is too. Blessed are the balanced!