You may remember Jesus’ dear friends, Lazarus, Martha and Mary. Jesus loved all three equally, but he seemed to truly relish his time with Lazarus, the older brother. I think he felt like he could just sit and be himself with Lazarus. Lazarus’ home was quiet, and the two of them would sit all afternoon just talking about the scriptures and the Father.
Lazarus asked a lot of deep questions, many I would never have even thought of. And Jesus really enjoyed asking Lazarus challenging questions in return. This kind of give and take debate gave Jesus great joy.
Their conversations, and sometimes debates, could go on for hours. The younger sister Mary would sit near them and listen to all they said, absorbing their words deep into her heart. She had such a peaceful way about her. Neither she nor Lazarus ever seemed to be in a hurry, and Mary would not let anything distract her from listening intently to Jesus.
But Martha was just the opposite of Mary. Don’t get me wrong, she was a pleasant person, and friendly and welcoming. She loved to have Jesus visit, and would always prepare great meals for us. The twelve of us loved it when Jesus said we were stopping in Bethany!
But Martha could be difficult. She would get distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. I remember the time she worked herself into a frenzy, cleaning the house and getting the food ready. When she got into this mode I would be sure to stay out of her way. I had been bossed around by Martha before, and even snapped at when I didn’t do something the way she wanted it done.
I have no doubt Martha considered Mary lazy. And she certainly thought of her as inefficient, and surely a time-waster. Martha reminded me of … me, back in my fishing days. Rushed, hurried and harried, temper rising and patience falling.
I was watching her get worked up, and I elbowed John in the side and said, “Watch out. Martha is getting frustrated.” John looked her way and saw her face reddening, and quietly walked outside. So did Nathaniel and Philip. They knew better than to get in the way of Martha when she was pressing and stressing.
I watched her finally drop her spoon and march over to Jesus and Lazarus. She came to Jesus and cried out, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
I have to say I was trying my best to suppress a smile. Poor Martha. She was, after all, doing all the work. She was hot, and she was weary, and she was tired. But the thing is she actually liked being this way. She thrived on being busy. Some of us had tried before to help her and she pushed us out of the way, murmuring, “If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself.”
Can you relate?