We often think about Martha as a woman who was taken up with the cares of life but we forget to look at John’s account of Martha as a woman of faith. I want to look briefly at this important story and see how the Lord responds to her faith.
One of the things that become quite clear is that Martha’s activity in this passage is a strength rather than a weakness, she actively seeks the Lord while Mary sits at home. Mary only stirs herself when Martha fetches her.
17 On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. 18 Now Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem, 19 and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. 20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home. The New International Version. (2011). (Jn 11:17–20).
Martha expresses her feeling that if Jesus had been there he had could have prevented her brother’s death but even as she does this she says that she knows that God will respond to whatever Jesus asks for.
21 “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”
The New International Version. (2011). (Jn 11:21–22). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
Jesus assures her that her brother will rise from the dead, and Martha responds by saying yes I know he will be raised on the last day. It is at this point that Jesus reveals more of himself to Martha in some of the most profound language to be found in the New Testament.This, in turn, causes Martha to express her faith in a very strong way. It is after this that we see that Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead.
23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”
24 Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”
25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”
27 “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”
We very often quote Jesus saying ” I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die. and whoever lives by believing in me will never die” But we forget that these words were, first of all, said to Martha. It is how Jesus lovingly challenges Martha to see how deep her faith is because he asks her whether she believes this. Her response is one of the clearest confessions of faith that we have in the New Testament, she said, “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”, here Martha shows a profound understanding of who Jesus is, this is very similar to Peter’s confession of faith. Martha makes this amazing confession of faith in the darkest of circumstances the death of her own brother. It is only after this that she goes to fetch Mary who is still sitting at home, once Mary joins them they go to the tomb.
32 When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”
33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34 “Where have you laid him?” he asked.
“Come and see, Lord,” they replied.
35 Jesus wept.
36 Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”
37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”
38 Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. 39 “Take away the stone,” he said.
“But, Lord,” said Martha, the sister of the dead man, “by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days.”
40 Then Jesus said, “Did I not tell you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God?”
41 So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people standing here, that they may believe that you sent me.”
43 When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.
Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.”
The New International Version. (2011). (Jn 11:32–45). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
In this passage, we see that Jesus is deeply moved and in the wording for this implies that he was angry with sin and death but he had compassion for those who were grieving. We see also that the whole reason for his visit is so that he can raise Lazarus from the dead. Even at this point Martha struggles but is willing to have the Lord’s instructions followed. sometimes we find ourselves in a similar position where we know, love and trust the Lord Jesus but find some of his actions and directions confusing. Martha found it hard to believe that after 4 days in the tomb that her brother would be raised from the dead. But once Martha and the others at the tomb were reassured by Jesus they were obedient to his word. We too need to be like Martha and have a deep faith in Jesus even when everything seems to be going wrong. Martha knew that Jesus was the only one who could deliver her from her problems and like her we can receive the Lord’s blessing at the hardest points of our lives.