Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A faith like Martha





Scripture

Martha then said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.
(John 11:21 NASB)
“Even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.”
(John 11:22 NASB)
Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”
(John 11:23 NASB)
Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.”
(John 11:24 NASB)
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies,
(John 11:25 NASB)
and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?”
(John 11:26 NASB)
She said to Him, “Yes, Lord; I have believed that You are the Christ, the Son of God, even He who comes into the world.”
(John 11:27 NASB)

Observation

Of the two sisters, Mary and Martha, Martha is the with the reputation for being too busy to spend time simply listening and learning at the feet of the Master. Who would want to have faith like her? Wasn't Mary the one with incredible faith? That may have been the first scene in which we encountered the sisters but this time, when Jesus comes to raise Lazarus from the dead something entirely different unfolds before us. Mary is too overcome by grief to go out to meet Jesus, but Martha comes to greet him and has this conversation. Jesus tells her that her brother is going to raise again. Then she expresses her faith in God and her belief that there will be a final resurrection. You see, she has been listening and she has been learning. Then, however, Jesus takes this up a notch. He tells her that He IS the resurrection and the life. That there is a distinct connection between having faith to believe who He is and eternal life. That is a pretty deep concept and so He looks at her and asks if she understands. Her response is not simply one of understanding or reiterating what He has just said but rather, she takes it to another level as well. She affirms that He is her Lord. To call Him Lord is to say that He is God, and that He is greater than the cult of the Emperors. She's not saying that Caesar is Lord -- she's saying Jesus is Lord. Not only is He greater than the Emperors, but He is the Messiah (Christ) -- He is the actual Son of God -- and He's the One they've been waiting for to come into the world. That final sentence wraps up a complete and total understanding of who Jesus really was and is. The faith of Martha has moved in a dramatic fashion from the kitchen to a full-blown theological statement of the understanding of Christ.

Application

There is hope in the story of Martha. There is hope for all of us who may, at times, become preoccupied with the tasks of daily living. Somewhere along the way Martha really did learn to slow down and spend time at the Master's feet. In doing so her faith grew and developed to a depth that few others would ever reach.

Often we categorized Martha as the one who just never "got it." Truth is, she didn't get it at first, but she really got it later on in life. However, she still seems to have a rather negative reputation to this day. Somehow I wonder whether we really give people the chance to grow up and become fully developed in Christ. Too often there is a tendency to remember the crazy things that people did when they were young and we categorize them in that way. We comment on their immaturity or their inability to "get it." Sadly this is how Martha is remembered and yet that's not the whole story.

In the life of the Church if we are not willing to allow the grace of God to transform people and accept them in their new and transformed state, we are not genuinely being the Church. There are those who have made serious mistakes earlier in life, but that's not the end of the story. It wasn't the end of Martha's story. God took her and molded her into an amazing woman. God is doing the same today with men and women but often we, the good folks of the Church, don't allow them to become all that God wants them to become because we remember the past. Let's try and change Martha's reputation by focusing on the woman she became. Any of us would be fortunate to have a faith like Martha's. Look around -- we may be surrounded by Marthas -- people who have been transformed by the power of God's Holy Spirit. Set them free to be the new person God has created them to be. Stop judging them by who they used to be. Oh, to have a faith like Martha's!

Prayer

Lord, help me to see the new transformed lives which You have created and celebrate what You have done. May we embrace Your power at work in the world today -- giving new life. Amen.

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