Women Followed Jesus: Martha and Mary

Martha and Mary were sisters and their brother was Lazarus, whom Jesus raised from the grave.

While the other women we have visited are seen traveling with Jesus and his disciples and ministering to them, all the mentions of Martha and Mary reveal Jesus visiting them or in the area where they lived.

Martha served others

We’ve already looked at the meaning of Mary as bitter, beloved, rebelliousness, and wished-for-child.  Martha means the Lord cometh.

Martha is always listed first, leading to the belief she was the older sister, followed by Mary and that Lazarus was the youngest.

The siblings lived in Bethany and it was here the Lord came to rest and refresh himself. They appear to be important figures in the community.

“and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house.”  {Luke 10:38}

Mary sat at Jesus feet

From this we learnt the house is Martha’s.  Many scholars believe she was widowed, because no husband is mentioned. However, when Jesus is anointed the Gospel of Matthew mentions them at the home of a Simon the Leper in Bethany.  He is mentioned nowhere else in scripture and no other relationships are mentioned, but many scholars believe from this he may have been Martha’s husband. {Matthew 26:6-13; Mark 14:3-9}

“And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word.”  {Luke 10:39}

Mary sits at Jesus feet and soaks up his words. In today’s society she is revered for doing what is right and sitting there with Jesus.

Mary and Martha had a brother Lazarus

 “But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me.  And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things.”  {Luke 10:40-41}

Martha has the gift of hospitality. She loves to care for others and serve them. She is busy preparing the meal and serving the Lord, while her sister is sitting at his feet. She becomes worried, but notice Jesus says her name not once but twice.

The next time we find the siblings, is after Lazarus has died. They send word for Jesus to come, but he tarries and Lazarus has been dead four days when he arrives.

Lazarus became sick and died

“Now Jesus was not yet come into the town, but was in that place where Martha met him.”  {John 11:30}  Martha is the first to run to him, as soon as she learns he is on the way. We discover he is not even in town yet when she reaches him. Her sister, Mary, also runs to the Lord and falls down at his feet before he arrives at the house.

John 11 goes on to tell us, Jesus called Lazarus forth and he came out of the tomb. The sisters grief was transformed into joy.

We find Mary mentioned one additional time, but even in the passage about Lazarus we are reminded “It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.”  {John 11:2}

Lazarus came forth from tomb when Jesus called him

Mary often heard Jesus talk about his upcoming death.  Six days before the Passover he went to Bethany. Notice, Jesus has stopped for one last visit and respite. While the disciples do not realize what is to come over the next week, Jesus does.

“There they made him a supper; and Martha served: but Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with him.”  {John 12: 2}

As is often common, we find Martha serving those in her home.  Lazarus, who was raised from the grave, is at the table with them.

Mary anointed Jesus feet

“Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment.”  {John 12:3}

Mary anointed Jesus feet with the oil and wiped his feet with her hair. Judas Iscariot rebukes her.  “Then said Jesus, Let her alone: against the day of my burying hath she kept this.”  {John 12:7}

The next morning Jesus would leave the siblings, knowing his death awaits him.  He found comfort with these friends one last time.  Shouldn’t we all long to be friends the way these three were to Jesus?

“It was to the warm, hospitable home at Bethany to which He retired, for He loved the three who lived in it, Martha, Mary and Lazarus.”  {Women of the Bible}

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.