At the tomb of Lazarus, Jesus prepared for action… to do the miraculous. He [Jesus] groaned in Himself and commanded the people to remove the stone that covered the tomb. Though He was not telling Martha, since men were around, but from the blues she emerged. To frustrate the miracle, she complained that her brother was stinking in the grave, justifying that with vital statistics, aimed at precluding the Lord from raising her brother from death. Imagine!
Does it not teach you that it is not every man, who prays for you, believes really in the prayer, and not every man that preaches to you, believes in the message? Martha, no doubt, had ‘a form of godliness but denying the power thereof’. Her likes are in found in some families, industry, Churches, etc. They say big things but do nothing. You do not need them during the action period. That was why Jesus would only go with Peter, James and John, the likes of Mary, but never the ‘Marthas of this world’, during special miracles.
Why did Martha speak from both sides of her mouth, a woman, who had said that Jesus could raise Lazarus from death, now speaking and working against that miracle? A trip to her background will reveal much about her. A person’s background identifies him. Visit his house, office and discuss with his driver, security guard and staff members.
Let us examine what Jesus met at the two occasions He visited Martha – Luke 10:38 and John 12:1. In Dr. Luke’s account, Mary, her sister, sat at the feet of Jesus, listening to His teaching, perhaps, making notes. That was her choice. It was important to her. Martha was busy serving Him food. That was her choice and she ranked it above any other thing she could do. Her hospitality was good except that she was doing it grumbling, angry with Mary for not helping her in the kitchen and with Jesus for not rebuking Mary.
Is it not incredible that Aunty Martha was preparing food for Jesus and yet, angry with Him? It is possible for someone to love God’s work but not God, the Owner of the work. When Absalom, David’s ambitious son, was slain, General Joab sent Cushi to deliver the message to David. Ahimaaz told him that he would like to carry the news. Joab refused but he prevailed on him to allow him to go. Joab’s refusal was based on the fact that Cushi was not an eye witness when Absalom died. ‘Let me run,’ he insisted. The General allowed him to run, since there is nothing wrong in allowing someone to do physical exercises. Cushi ran and even outran Ahimaaz. When King David asked him details about the message, he was bereft. David told him to step aside. Ahimaaz then arrived and gave the message. Cushi, no doubt loved the work, just the work, but had no message to give.
In John 12, Jesus was again, Martha’s guest. Many people had gathered there to see Lazarus, who Jesus brought back to life. Mary was at her usual place, the feet of Jesus, anointing them with her costly ointment and wiping them with her tears. Martha was also at her usual place, in the kitchen, preparing food. We never saw her at the feet of Jesus, like Mary, doing Bible Study with Him. Martha and Mary represent two types of Christians in the Church. It does not matter whether they are Pastors or members, so long as their brother ‘Lazarus’ is okay. They ignore Jesus and their preoccupation centres on material things, my job, my car, my children, my… It is possible to be in the Church, sleeping there, doing God’s work, and yet, the person does not have a personal knowledge of God nor have fellowship with Him.
In Part 1 on this topic, I reviewed two Christian virtues in the life of Elijah, during his encounter with the priests of Baal on Mt. Carmel. I pointed out how he considered other people first and also his patience for people. We will know Aunty Martha better if we test her with these two virtues. The Yoruba say that a wise man does not use his last bullet at the first instance. Why did Martha go to meet Jesus when He was visiting them instead of sending Mary, her younger sister? This is how to detect selfishness. Second, why could she not wait till Jesus had gone before being angry with Mary for not helping her in the kitchen? Impatience! Why could she not be patient with Jesus for not correcting Mary? Did she really intend to correct Mary or to humiliate her before the Lord? All that she wanted was to paint her as a lazy girl.
The ‘bad girl’ before her was a lady Jesus applauded for washing His feet with her tears and mopping them with her hair before she anointed them with a costly ointment, which provoked Judas. Serving Jesus food was good, so long as we remember His admonition that, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every Word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God’. Proud people overexaggerate themselves while undervaluing other people. By challenging Mary and Jesus, it meant that Martha had felt that what she was doing was more important than what Mary was doing. Jesus, the just Judge, told her that Mary’s choice, a choice with eternal perspective, was better than her social choice. Jesus confessed that He did not come to do His will, but the will of Him that sent Him. Victory is ours, once we do God’s will.
Jesus reminded Martha of His message to her on faith. ‘Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?’ This is the problem that denies many Christians of the riches of victory. We thank God that the people around, removed the stone that covered the grave. With a loud voice, Jesus shouted, ‘Lazarus, come forth’. He came out, having no choice. Victory by the Word!
That Victory comes by God’s Word is incontestable if the price is paid by being born-again so that the person will benefit from God’s provision for His children. You can make that decision now, no matter your background, by confessing your sins to God and then accept Jesus as your Lord and personal Saviour. ‘As many as received Him,’ the Bible says, ‘to them He gave power [right] to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name’ – John 1:12.
It may be that at one time or another, you gave your life to Him but today, things have changed, sin has taken over. The Lord Jesus is ready and willing to forgive you. That was why Elijah repaired the Altar. Bow down now and repair your altar that has broken down by confessing to Him the sin you have committed and plead for forgiveness.
For further comment, Please contact: Osondu Anyalechi: 0802 3002-471; [email protected]