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MARTHA OF BETHANY (Bible Character Series)

Posted on Oct 24 , 2013 in Bible Characters

MARTHA OF BETHANY (Bible Character Series)

 

Martha of Bethany is a biblical figure described in the Gospels of Luke and John. Together with her siblings Lazarus and Mary, she is described as living in the village of Bethany near Jerusalem. She is the middle child of her family with Lazarus being the eldest and her sister Mary the youngest. She was witness to Jesus' resurrection of her brother, Lazarus.

In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus visits the home of two sisters named Mary and Martha. The two sisters are contrasted: Martha was "cumbered about many things" while Jesus was their guest, while Mary had chosen "the better part", that of listening to the master's discourse. While her sister Mary is seating on the feet of Jesus, she came and asked, "Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!" "Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "You are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

In the Gospel of John, Martha and Mary appear in connection two incidents: the raising from the dead of her brother Lazarus (John 11) and the anointing of Jesus in Bethany (John 12:3). In the account of the raising of Lazarus, Jesus meets with the sisters in turn: Martha followed by Mary. Martha goes immediately to meet Jesus as he arrives, while Mary waits until she is called. In speaking with Jesus, both sisters lament that he did not arrive in time to prevent their brother's death: "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died" (John 11:21,32). But where Jesus' response to Mary is more emotional, his response to Martha is one of teaching calling her to hope and faith: "Your brother will rise again." Martha answered, "I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day." Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?" "Yes, Lord", she told him, "I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world."

As the narrative continues, Martha calls her sister Mary to see Jesus. Jesus has Mary bring him to Lazarus' tomb where he commands the stone to be removed from its entrance. Martha here objects, "But, Lord, by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days", to which Jesus replies, "Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?" (John 11:39-40). They then take away the stone and Jesus prays and calls Lazarus forth alive from the tomb. Martha appears again in John 12:1-8, where she serves at a meal held in Jesus' honor at which her brother is also a guest.
 

 

 

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