Washing the Feet of Jesus

Scripture: Luke 7:36-50

Have you ever done something for the Lord that seemed a little strange to others, but you were so passionate about it that what others thought didn’t matter? The woman in our story today is one such person. She has a passion to worship Jesus. It seems there is something about Him that draws her—something that makes her heart ache to be in his presence.

One thing I want to mention before we go any further is that the other gospels record a story of a woman anointing Jesus. (See Matthew 26:6, John 12:3-7 and Mark 14:3-6). ) That may seem a little confusing, but for now just realize that some Bible scholars have had questions about these passages too. “Whether these accounts represent one event or two, or possibly even three, has been the subject of speculation for centuries.” (http://rachelheldevans.com/blog/women-of-the-passion-anoint-oil)

Identified only as “a sinful woman,” we see that she has a passion for Jesus and as a result, worships Him in a way that seems a little, well…extreme or “over the top” and definitely improper. She has, more than likely, seen Jesus heal, teach, raise the dead, and forgive. When she follows Him to Simon’s home perhaps she wonders if He could forgive her. Maybe she is desperate for the peace that His forgiveness might bring her.

However there are some social barriers in her way. Here she is—a known sinner (probably a prostitute or adulterer), inviting herself into the home of a Pharisee, a religious leader. She also plans to perform an act involving two things that were huge faux pas—touching a man in a society where men and women did not even address each other in public and letting her hair down for someone other than her husband.

But none of this seems to matter to her. Proper or not, she will show Jesus her love. So she anoints Jesus with oil and as she does her eyes fill with tears and she kneels at his feet without a word. I can hear the room grow silent. Her tears brim over and unashamed she uses them to wash His feet. I imagine she weeps a good bit moved by the fact that she is in His presence, before gently drying his feet with her hair. Think of it, here she is before at least fourteen men (probably more), touching Him and allowing her hair to fall freely over His feet.

At this point Simon begins to think. Perhaps he should not have for Jesus seems to read his thoughts–thoughts very logical to Simon–that she is a sinner and if Jesus were a true prophet, He would not allow her to touch Him. First, Jesus tells Simon he wants to say something to him. Almost as if He’s asking for permission. But Simon’s okay with that and tells Jesus to say what’s on His mind.

So Jesus begins his reprimand by telling Simon a story about two debtors, one who owes a great deal and one who owes little. The generous moneylender forgives both debts. “Which one will love him more?” Jesus asks. Simon says that he supposed the one with the larger debt. (I think it’s cool the way Jesus let Simon figure that one out for himself.)

But He is not done.

Jesus points out Simon’s areas of negligence in performing the simple courtesies extended to visitors in that culture. Simon has not even called a servant to wash his guest’s feet. He did not greet Him with a kiss. And look at the “sinner”—she kisses, anoints, washes, and dries His feet. Not only that, but as Jesus says here, she offers these things with her own body—her tears, her hair—and performs the lowliest of services.

He then turns his attention to the woman and wish I could have seen the look on Simon’s face as Jesus said these words, comparing him, a religious leader to this “sinner.” We hope he begins to grasp the meaning of Jesus’ words. Maybe he is angry at the rebuke, or perhaps he has a revelation about his own character. I like to think that he becomes less judgmental after this visit with Jesus and begins to show mercy to other “sinners,” realizing he is one also.

So what can we learn from this passage?

  • As Simon perhaps figured out, we seldom understand what is in a person’s heart. Maybe on the surface, their sin is more obvious than ours, but that does not make it worse. And Jesus accepts an offering made with a worshipful heart.
  • Jesus is not at all interested in convention. He not only allows the woman’s touch, He compliments her unusual behavior.
  • Jesus forgives sin. He has such a deep well of love he does not worry about who comes to Him; He doesn’t worry about being influenced or tainted by our sin. As a matter of fact, He appreciates the openness and sincerity of the woman in our story.
  • No matter what, Jesus longs to demonstrate His love to us. Some of us may have committed the very sins that this woman was guilty of or worse. He still desires that we come to Him and lay all that “junk” on Him. He can bear the weight of our sins and the shame we may feel because of it—and I may add, the shame we may feel from what others have done to us.
  • Perhaps like me, you become emotional in public worship. Other people may think you’re a little odd for making such a big deal over Him, but I don’t think Jesus minds that at all.

And by the way, the things we have done wrong and the wrongs that have been done to us are not who we are; they do not define us. Jesus sees His followers as righteous and redeemed, and you are of great value to Him.

I invite you to listen to the words of a beautiful song by Mercy Me:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GXI0B4iMLuU

The Woman with the Bleed

Scripture: Mark 5:25-34

Jesus ministered to all kinds of people with a wide variety of illnesses and struggles. The one I want to look at today really touches my heart because it shows His concern for a condition that is almost uniquely that of a woman’s. And one that most of us would probably want to just keep quiet about. But since it is such a sweet story of Christ’s love for us, I want to take a close look at it.

Jesus has just crossed the Sea of Galilee with His disciples when we meet this woman with the bleed (or hemorrhage). Before she reaches him a man named Jairus, a synagogue leader, kneels at Jesus’ feet and pleads with Him to come heal his daughter. So while Jesus (and apparently the crowd) takes off in that direction, this woman whose name is never given approaches Him thinking “if I can only touch the hem of his garment then I will be healed.” I imagine her hand as it reaches through the tangle of sweaty legs and dusty feet. And she does it. She touches His garment.

Before we move on, we should realize a few things about this woman:

  • She has not only suffered physically and financially (going to one physician after another, spending all her money and growing worse instead of better), she is also suffering spiritually and socially as this affliction marks her as unclean and therefore not fit to go to the temple or synagogue. (Leviticus 15:25-27)
  • If she is married there is a huge problem with her uncleanness. Her husband would not be able to have relations with her. For twelve years.
  • We don’t know how old she is so we don’t know if she has children and at this point in time she would be unable to have them.
  • She is basically an interruption to an important mission—that of a desperate synagogue leader whose daughter is dying.
  • She goes to Jesus in what she hopes is a private way. (No one else need know of this—she can touch Him, disappear into the crowd, and head home.)

Now it would seem, Jesus had a choice to make. At the woman’s touch, He knows something has happened. Should He ignore it and continue with the synagogue leader? Wouldn’t that have been easier? Wouldn’t it have been better to hurry to the dying daughter? Or should He stop and acknowledge what has just happened?

Jesus chooses to do the hard thing.

He embraces this “interruption” and asks who touched Him. I can imagine the look on the disciples’ faces as they say, “well, ya know, you’re in this huge crowd pressing up against you like you’re a rock star or something and you want to know who touched you. Lord, are you…all right?” Yes, I am taking a slight liberty with Scripture but the point is the disciples often have a tough time understanding what Jesus is doing, and maybe they’re a little embarrassed by his behavior. Perhaps they’re thinking “all right, Lord, we’re here for You, but perhaps You need to get out of the sun for a bit.” At any rate, Jesus keeps looking around, pretty much ignores the disciples, and keeps asking. He knows that someone has touched Him and received healing.

Now I’m sure Jesus already knows who touched Him, after all He has the ability (even with His human limitations) to perceive what is in people’s minds and hearts. So…if He does know, why would he ask who touched Him?

Maybe He wants her to come to Him by choice, not because He points her out saying “I know it was you.” But isn’t Jesus still trying to embarrass her? Surely she does not wish to be brought to everyone’s attention. She didn’t want to get up in front of all those people and ask healing for this delicate matter. No, she wanted just to touch Him secretly with no one else knowing, and be done with it. But Jesus has other ideas, and I don’t think it is to shame her any further, but rather in His tender way, He wants to tell her something in front of the whole crowd. Since he is so insistent, the woman comes forward and falls at his feet “in fear and trembling.” Was she afraid she was about to be rebuked for touching Him? After all, she was unclean and had no business touching anyone. And surely she couldn’t help but touch some in the huge crowd. We can’t be sure but we do know she tells Him the “whole truth”, apparently not mincing her words. And I’m wondering now, does this crowd already know about her situation? Do they know this woman has not been to the synagogue for twelve years? Does this synagogue leader who is standing next to Jesus know these things? And are they appalled at her words?

Well, it seems that Jesus knows exactly what to say to her. Jesus does not shame her because of all this. Instead of saying “oh, now look what you’ve done. Now I’m unclean too” He chose compassion. He chose to praise her faith. He chose to tell her she was whole, to go in peace, to be freed from suffering.

41_Mk_05_18_RG (1) .

But first he calls her “daughter” which probably meant “daughter of Abraham.” I hope you see the significance in that. She had been cut off from worship of the God of Abraham, from so much of what made her Jewish, and now Jesus is calling her “daughter.” He plays a part in re-establishing her place in the community and in the synagogue. If He, as God in the flesh calls her daughter, then He apparently establishes a personal relationship with her. He could have said “dear woman” as He did His mother but He chose the term daughter for significant reasons.

In just a breath or two Jesus establishes a relationship with her, compliments her faith, wishes her peace, and frees her from a terrible affliction.

Jesus may not always free us immediately from our affliction or our suffering, but He does make a way for us to go in peace. And perhaps a more important thing to consider is how we can help others “go in peace.” So here’s some homework: Ask God to give you an opportunity to speak peace into someone’s life outside your regular circle of family, friends, and co-workers. Be honest if this is new or difficult for you. God can honor that as well. You may find that you have helped someone with a smile or a kind word. Voicing your appreciation to a waitress or a nurse or cashier can make their day, and perhaps help lift a burden that you are not even aware of. And don’t be surprised at the peace you find in ministering to another.

Blessings in Him,

Eileen

Finding Life in the Place of Death

Easter can be a joyous time for followers of Christ, and there are so many aspects of it that we could explore. For example, some don’t like the name Easter prefer “Resurrection Sunday” due to the pagan origins of “Easter.” (If you want to find out more on that subject I suggest you google “origins of Easter.”) We could also look at the arguments for and against the Resurrection as there are some who say it never occurred. But those are not on the list for discussion today.

Instead I am going to make the assumption that you have some at least some belief in the Resurrection of Christ, and with that, take a look at the women who were present at the tomb. (By the way, women were not thought of very highly in this society and it is significant that each gospel records these followers as the first to see Him.)

All four gospels make record of these women and each of them has a different account of exactly who was there:

Scripture Women Recorded
Matthew 28:1-10 Mary Magdalene and the other Mary
Mark 16:1-10 Mary Magdalene, the mother of James and Salome
Luke 24:1-10 Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary mother of James and other women
John 20:1-3 Mary Magdalene (later she alludes to the fact that others were there with her)

 

Notice that the women mentioned and other details vary but all four have some important commonalities. Among them are the following:

  • Women went to the tomb
  • They all mention Mary Magdalene
  • They went for the purpose of anointing Christ’s body
  • They found the tomb empty
  • The women then went to tell the male disciples
  • There was astonishment and disbelief among His followers

If you read the four gospels, you will find others details they share as well as seeming contradictions but just keep this in mind if the differences really bother you: “each of the gospel writers probably had a different perspective on whom and what was important and reported that information.”**

But on a more personal level…let’s look at what one woman, Mary Magdalene finds at the tomb of Jesus. Mary Magdalene has been depicted as a former prostitute but all we really know about her is that seven demons were cast out of her by our Lord. I can only imagine her gratitude. I can only imagine her love for Him.

 

In the gospel of John, when Mary Magdalene arrives at the tomb, she is dismayed to find it empty. (Keep in mind there were probably more women with her but John only mentions her.) After she goes to the disciples, Peter and John return with her, look into the tomb, and basically just go back home. But does Mary leave? Not according to John. She decides to stay, and as she does, she begins to weep. The word weep here does not mean tears quietly running down her cheeks, but wailing or sobbing. This is what we might call “ugly crying.”

Mary then peers into the tomb again, and sees two angels who ask her “dear woman, why are you weeping?” She doesn’t realize they are angels and explains what has happened. I can imagine the sorrow in her voice as she tells them “they have taken my Lord and I don’t know where he is.” The Bible doesn’t record their answer, but she looks around and sees another man who asks her the same question. Unknown to her, this is the very Lord she is looking for but this is the living, breathing form. She wants the dead one—the body. She gives this man whom she thinks is the gardener the same answer she has given the angels. She even tells Him that she will come get the body if He knows where it is. This is such a solemn time for her, but I can’t help but chuckle a bit as she asks the living Lord to show her where the dead one is! A bit ironic perhaps? Nevertheless, I can almost feel the Lord’s longing to comfort her as He says her name, “Mary.”

Her name, He simply says her name! And it changes her life for ever. Can you imagine the joy she must have felt? The unbelievable joy as He says her name! She immediately answers “Rabboni” or Master. She probably wants to reach out to Him, but He warns her not to touch Him. I am sure she is filled with gladness beyond measure as she runs again to the disciples, this time to tell them that she has spoken to Him.

But they are still afraid. They hide. They lock the doors. But locked doors are nothing to Jesus. The Bible says He appears to them anyway, and His greeting is “peace be with you.” Considering the betrayal, desertion, and denial He suffered at the disciples’ hands, I can’t help but wonder what they thought of those words. And so much happened during that period of time after He arose. He walked around, talked with people, was seen by more than five hundred.

Five hundred.

But in the Gospel of John, the interaction with one woman gets more attention than the five hundred. Perhaps, I’m stretching the application a bit, but I hope you realize that you as an individual are precious to God. I hope you can hear Him in His still small voice say your name or call you His child. I hope you sense His arms around you as He holds you in a very real way. He may not be here physically, but He still reaches out for us.

There is so much more to the story of the Resurrection. I pray that you truly celebrate this coming Easter and praise God that Jesus is not dead. He is not just another martyr. He is not just another religious figure, but a living Lord.

Love in Christ,

Eileen

**If you would like to do more reading on the differences in these four accounts I recommend this article: http://coldcasechristianity.com/2015/how-many-women-visited-the-tomb-of-jesus/

 

 

Patience and Trials

Those of you who follow my blog know that I love stories of Jesus and the women he interacted with, and I try to stick with that theme. But this month I’m going to take a break and speak to a subject that I’ve had on my mind for some time.

Have you ever had someone tell you “don’t pray for patience”? Even if the phrase is said tongue in cheek there’s a good reason for giving this advice, right? After all, we “know” that God will start teaching us patience by allowing us to experience all sorts of trials. This concept could be considered biblical as Romans 5:3 states that tribulation brings patience. Well, of course we don’t want to go through tribulation! So asking for patience is like asking for trouble.

Well, here’s where I have a problem. Telling ourselves and others not to pray for patience reflects something very wrong with our thinking about God and His wisdom. Of course, our human nature does not wish to go through trials. However if you read the first half of the above verse (Romans 5:3) it tells us we should glory in tribulation.

Wait. Are you crazy? We should be excited about trials? Maybe even invite them into our lives?

I know, I know that seems kind of scary. But don’t we realize that God is a giver of good things? So should we really be afraid of the lessons He might try to teach us? Or worry because of what we pray? We will all face trials and frustrations no matter how we pray. So wouldn’t it be better to go through them with patience rather than without it? And do we really think that we can tell God when and how much tribulation to allow in our lives?

There is another huge problem with thinking this way. In 1 Corinthians 13 starting in verse 6 the Bible describes the characteristics of love and right off we see “love is (oh my, there it is)…patient. While we’re thinking on that, we might want to take a look at the fruit of the Spirit. In Galatians 5:22 we read this: “the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace…” and we think “oh, yeah! Give me love, joy, and peace, Lord. I want me some of that.” But…following those three wonderful traits is our friend…patience!

This really makes me wonder if we can ever exhibit the love, joy, and peace Jesus intends for us without at least a dab of patience? And are we really going to skip over that portion of the fruit of the Spirit because it might bring us difficulties or temptations or even heartache? If God does allow those trials, He will accompany us, right? What a wonderful way to get to know him better! No, I’m not excited about facing trials but Jesus sure faced them while He was on this earth and think about this: is the servant better than his or her master? (See Matthew 10:24 for the answer.)

Perhaps you’ve already realized that if we want others to treat us with patience, we should we be willing to do treat them in like manner. And of course, the most important Person we desire patience from is God. So…patience is something God wants for us, and if we desire to be more like Him well, maybe we should think of it as something to pray for.

Here are some things I hope you include in your “take away” today:

  1. We shouldn’t be afraid to pray for the things that will enable us to be better followers of Christ. Including patience.
  2. Realize that God is with us in every difficulty, and that makes it all worthwhile (and by the way, I believe God will allow trials that are more than we can bear, but that is a subject for another time).
  3. God is not mad at you, and He does not stand ready to load you up with trials just because you ask for something good.

“Fear not for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen
you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10
http://biblehub.com/isaiah/41-10.htm Accessed on January 29, 2016

Praying for all the love, joy, and peace Christ intends for you to have. (I’ll let you pray for the patience.)

Eileen

Remembering

In case you don’t realize it, this can be a busy season! In all the rush we may feel a little lost and wonder what happened to the “true meaning” of Christmas. Many have found ways to keep Christ in Christmas such as celebrating advent, attending a Christmas Eve service, reading the Christmas story with family or friends, and I’m sure many of you have your own traditions.

Jesus baby

Well, guess what. I want to help you out too. Because I believe this is of utmost importance to our joy: remembering what God has done for us and becoming a thankful person. We can always, anytime, no matter what is going on, thank and praise God. Take time during this season to sit down and read a psalm aloud to Him (yes read to Him) such as Psalm 30, Psalm 27, or Psalm 100. Spend time just being with your Lord.

I know this season can also be a sorrowful time for many. While it is a popular misconception that suicide rates go up around Christmastime, a significant number of people do face the “holiday blues.” So as we get our preparations underway, let’s be aware that the people around us may be lonely or have horrible memories of Christmases past or may have experienced a tragedy in recent days.  Perhaps we can reach out to someone who seems a little down and of course, we can do the most powerful thing possible and pray for them.

I am praying that you, my reader, will experience the joy this season can bring, along with the excitement and the wonder of it. Because no matter what we have been through in the past, what we are facing right now, or how lonely we may feel, we can still experience joy—a deep-rooted joy that can remain with us all year.

I’m sure some of you have already seen this video (link below), but in case you haven’t, I hope you will watch and remember all that Christ has done for you. He loves you so very much.

Peace in Him.

 

Jesus, His Mother, and a Party!

A few months ago, I was listening to a Christian radio station when one of the DJ’s asked a hypothetical question. If Jesus were on this earth today, living in our culture, would he be on social media?

I wasn’t sure about that one, but one of the other DJ’s said yes! Jesus absolutely would use social media as a way to connect with people. You may argue that  Facebook, Google+ Instagram, etc are not the best places to really connect with folks, and I would agree. It disturbs me when people say they are closer to their Facebook friends than they are their “real” friends. Nevertheless I have found it does have some real value. Through social media I have reconnected with friends I no longer see for one reason or another and have been able to find out what is going on in their lives. Being able to pray with them in their times of need has been wonderful.

So would Jesus participate in social media? I’m not sure, but what the DJ said certainly rings true. Jesus loved being around people and loved connecting with them in all manner of ways. He went to the temple to teach people, ministered to individuals, at least once invited himself to dinner, and went to parties

Parties in Jesus day were different than ours. Hospitality was exceedingly important to them. Did you know that in Jesus’ time the party after a wedding could last a week? A week! No honeymoon for the bride and groom, but rather, they entertained for several days after the ceremony.

In John 2 Jesus, His disciples and His mother have received invitations to a wedding in Cana. And now the celebration is on. The host is prepared with plenty of food and wine. Or at least he was supposed to be. At some point during the days of the celebration, the wine runs out. This was a huge problem. It was not like running out of pretzels or drinks nowadays, and oh, well, will someone run up to the 7-11 and buy some more? Oh, no, this was a reflection on the host’s reputation. His lack of hospitality would be a gigantic faux pas. So Jesus’ mother Mary goes to her son and tells Him about the situation.

003-jesus-wedding

Why would Mary do this? Why would she bother the Lord with such a problem?

Perhaps she thinks that her son will listen to his mom and come up with a solution. But Jesus does not do as she had hoped or maybe even expected. (If you study His life much at all, you will see Jesus often did the unexpected.)

Instead of saying something like “sure mom, I’ll be glad to help,” He tells her “woman, what have I to with thee? My time is not yet come.”  (KJV)

Take a deep breath, everyone. If you have never read this story, you may wonder why He was talking to Mary like that. His mother! I know His words have raised a lot of questions. So let’s try to answer one or two at least.

As you may know, “woman” was a term of endearment and respect. Okay, that’s better, isn’t it? BUT look at his next words. “What have I to do with thee?”  What? He really said that to her?

Not long ago, I was very direct with God and made this statement to Him: “I know you were being respectful when you called Mary ‘woman’, but I still think what you said afterwards…well, it seems rude.”  The Lord did not keep silent, and these are the words I heard him speak to my heart: “Now Eileen, don’t you think I knew how to talk to my mama?”

Well, that shut me up.

And I love it when He speaks in my vernacular. Both my children call me “mama,” and so for me the term is particularly endearing.

But the Lord had another assurance for me. “Look at how she reacted. She knew what I was saying. She was not offended.”

Oh.

I am totally looking at this Scripture in a new light now. Perhaps Mary is a little more spiritual than I because she doesn’t drop her jaw, make a sigh of disgust or demand that He talk to her with more respect, but simply turns to the servants and bids them do as her Son wishes. Is she recognizing His authority here? Is He somehow getting it across to her that He wishes her to relate to Him as Lord in addition to the mother-son relationship? Some scholars have said this is the case. His words probably meant far more than the English can convey. But apparently she understood his intent, and had confidence that He would let the servants know what to do.

And this passage ends in the first recorded miracle of Christ when He turns the water into wine. (By the way, it was good wine too according to the words of the host.)

There is always more that can be said about a particular passage of Scripture, and this one is no exception. So what would I like you to take away from this? Jesus acted in a loving way to His mother and He knew how to talk to her. You and I are not the same as Mary and He knows that. He knows how to treat each of us and how to speak to us as individuals.

Let me add one huge caution here. If you are not reading your Bible and searching for God’s instruction in His Word, it may be very difficult to hear His voice. Sometimes God may speak to us in a thought, an idea, or through the voice of a friend. But first search for His face in Scripture and through prayer. For that is where we find Him. Then step back and wait as He draws you close, rejoices over you, and quiets you with His love. (Zephaniah 3:17)

If you have any thoughts on this passage please feel free to share them in the comments. I would love to hear from you.

 

The Grief of Two Sisters and the Compassion of Jesus

The death of a loved one can be traumatic to say the least. Aside from the sadness, the hole left in our lives, or any number of emotions, grief can sneak up on us and strike when we least expect it. A movie, a casual comment, hearing a phrase the loved one used, or even a commercial can trigger tears or the wrenching of our hearts.

Today I want to take another peak at the lives of Mary and Martha, the sisters of Lazurus. The three siblings were apparently very close to Jesus and we have the opportunity to observe the sisters’ reactions and the reaction of our Lord to the loss of a loved one.

When we read about Martha and Mary a few months ago in Luke 10 we saw that Mary had the faith that Jesus most appreciated while Martha—well, he kind of fussed at her for not paying attention to what was important. Mary, who seemed so useless to Martha, was praised for listening and spending time with Jesus. I also believe Jesus’ rebuke of Martha was a gentle one, and He took the sting out of his criticism by addressing her by name. I also believe He was more disappointed with her attitude than anything else. Remember? She called him “Lord” then demanded He tell Mary to help her. In other words, Mary should be serving too, why don’t you see that and say something? (See my July 2015 blog.)

So let’s spend some more time with these two fascinating women and see how they interact with Jesus at a tragic juncture in their lives. It’s kind of a long chapter, but I encourage you to read John 11:1-43 for yourselves.

Just days before Lazurus dies, the sisters send Jesus a message telling Him that Lazarus is sick, referring to their brother as “the one you love.” Perhaps those words are meant to convey the urgency of the situation as well as an expectation that Jesus come immediately. But Jesus, in a seemingly callous manner, waits until after Lazurus dies to go to them. In verses 7-16 Jesus lets the disciples in on His plans. These verses deserve a closer look and we could most definitely delve into this passage and find some great treasures, but I mainly want to stick with Martha and Mary. (Again, I encourage you to read through these verses, and look at what the disciples say about His planned journey.)

In John 11:17, Jesus arrives when Lazurus has been in the tomb for four days. In verse 20 Martha hears He is coming and goes out to meet Him while Mary stays at home.

Wait. What? Is that right?

Yep. That’s Martha all right, heading down the road to meet with Jesus while Mary stays at home with the guests who had come from Jerusalem. Let that sink in for a minute. Martha who previously had been the one hurrying about, anxiously serving and taking care of preparations leaves a house full of mourners and heads out to meet Jesus with no desire that I can see, to serve Him. She simply wants to get to Him. Perhaps she is hoping to receive comfort. Or perhaps she wants to confront Him. All we know is that Martha wants to be with her Lord.

When she meets with Jesus, the first words out of her mouth according to Scripture are: “If you had been here, my brother would not have died.” Hmm. Sounds like confrontation wins out. Or does it? Perhaps Martha is just seeking honest answers. Jesus doesn’t interrupt her, but listens as she continues (I don’t know about you, but I think Jesus is a pretty good listener), and her next words reveal her heart. “But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”

Wow! Do you think she really believed that Jesus could raise her brother from the dead? (Hang on and we’ll gain more insight into her thinking.)

Jesus then tells Martha that her brother will rise again. She understands this—she knows he will rise at the last day. But Jesus has something more to share. “I am the resurrection and the life,” He tells her. “He who believes in me will live even though he dies, and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.” I imagine Him stating these words so gently with an extra dose of the love that He has for this woman.

Martha’s reply is apparently immediate. And look at what she says! (It really is a great answer. Okay, take a deep breath. Ready to see more of Martha’s heart?) “Yes, Lord. I believe you are the Christ, the Son of God who came into the world.”

Dude. The first time I read this I was so proud of Martha because, to be honest, I was a little worried about her harsh attitude toward Mary in the Luke 10 story. But now I see her standing before Jesus having this quiet conversation. And He gives her a chance to confess what she believes about Him. She knows her brother will be raised and live forever. Jesus just had to remind her of what she already believed. He changed her focus and got her to confess aloud what she believed. This must have been a comfort to her for “after she had said this, she went back.” When she returns, who does she go to? The Bible says she pulls Mary aside and tells her sister that the master is asking for her. I’m so glad we get to see this side of Martha as she delivers the message that Jesus wishes her to come to Him. That is so awesome. Picture Martha’s kindness to Mary as she pulls her aside so they can speak in private. I love it. And Jesus requests her presence.  So now it is Mary’s turn to go to Jesus. And she leaves so quickly that those who had come to comfort notice and follow her.

When Mary reaches Jesus, she falls at His feet. Much like her old self for this isn’t the first time she is at His feet. She once washed His feet with her tears, and dried them with her hair (Luke 7:37-38) jesus annointed with perfume

in a display of devotion. So now her emotions spill forth again in much the same way but this time with grief. And she says the same words as her sister. “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” According to the Scripture, she doesn’t add Martha’s statement that God would do whatever He asked, yet Jesus understands her aching spirit. He is moved by her weeping and the weeping of those who had come with her. Maybe this is the reason “Jesus wept” for as soon as He asks where they have laid Lazurus and they tell Him “come and see,” He weeps. The ISV states that Jesus burst into tears. The Aramaic Bible in Plain English says “And the tears of Yeshua were coming.” I don’t know about you, but I want to weep when I read those words. Theologians have come up with a number of reasons for Jesus’ tears. All we really know is that Jesus is moved with compassion for Mary and for all the Jews who had come with her.

The people lead Him to the tomb and as Jesus tells them to remove the stone, Martha objects. “Lord, by this time there will be a stench.”  Keep in mind that we just heard Martha say that God would do whatever Jesus asks, but now her practical side has settled on her and she thinks about the smell. (Notice that once again she prefaces her objection with “Lord.”)

As you probably know, the stone is moved and Jesus calls Lazurus from the grave. Many come to believe in Him because of this miracle much to the chagrin of the Pharisees. It is interesting that the Bible says nothing about Martha and Mary’s reaction to having their brother back. And I wonder–do they dance with joy as they welcome him into their embrace? Do perhaps both of them fall at Jesus feet and cry tears of joy? As Jesus wept with them, does he now laugh with them? Or maybe they stand in stunned silence.

But God was glorified as Jesus said He would be (verse 4), and both sisters find comfort in Christ.