Text: Luke 10:38-42 and John 11:1-44
Luke 10:38-42 38 Now as they went on their way, he entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. 39 She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying. 40 But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.” 41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; 42 there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.”
John 11:1-44 11 Now a certain man was ill, Lazarus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 Mary was the one who anointed the Lord with perfume and wiped his feet with her hair; her brother Lazarus was ill. 3 So the sisters sent a message to Jesus, “Lord, he whom you love is ill.” 4 But when Jesus heard it, he said, “This illness does not lead to death; rather it is for God’s glory, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” 5 Accordingly, though Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus, 6 after having heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. 7 Then after this he said to the disciples, “Let us go to Judea again.” 8 The disciples said to him, “Rabbi, the Jews were just now trying to stone you, and are you going there again?” 9 Jesus answered, “Are there not twelve hours of daylight? Those who walk during the day do not stumble, because they see the light of this world. 10 But those who walk at night stumble, because the light is not in them.” 11 After saying this, he told them, “Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I am going there to awaken him.” 12 The disciples said to him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will be all right.” 13 Jesus, however, had been speaking about his death, but they thought that he was referring merely to sleep. 14 Then Jesus told them plainly, “Lazarus is dead. 15 For your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.” 16 Thomas, who was called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, “Let us also go, that we may die with him.”
17 When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. 18 Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, some two miles away, 19 and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them about their brother. 20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, while Mary stayed at home. 21 Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him.” 23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” 27 She said to him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world.”
28 When she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary, and told her privately, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” 29 And when she heard it, she got up quickly and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet come to the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. 31 The Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary get up quickly and go out. They followed her because they thought that she was going to the tomb to weep there. 32 When Mary came where Jesus was and saw him, she knelt at his feet and said to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved. 34 He said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Jesus began to weep. 36 So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!” 37 But some of them said, “Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?”
38 Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. 39 Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead four days.” 40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?” 41 So
they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upward and said, “Father, I thank you for having heard me. 42 I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.” 43 When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”
“I am the resurrection and life” was one of the powerful entitlements of Jesus. He told this to Martha when she had a dialogical discourse over the death of her brother Lazarus. Many heavily lofted theological constructs underpinning the divinity of Jesus is articulated in the Johannine text. It centers around the faith in Christ. As we are celebrating the feast of Martha, sister of Mary and Lazarus of Bethany, I would like to share a few things about Martha and Mary in today's study.
In Luke, even though Martha complains about Marys’ insensitivity in sharing the household work in the preparation of food, Jesus appreciates Mary for choosing a better part in listening to Christ. He instructs Martha not to worry about the things that stress our daily life and wants Martha to be part of the faith community that listens to God and discerns the Will of God. Jesus’s movement is a faith movement that configures the resolution in uncertain life with the basic faculty of having trust in God. Many times, people in general worry about the things that are ephemeral and temporary and lose their connectivity with eternity.
1. Questioning: Martha and her sister Mary, as for me, belongs to the tradition of questioning the realities which hamper the harmony of human life. Their faith in their master made them question Christ in a subtle way by saying, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” I feel that they were questioning Christ for his absence and his late response to their call when Lazarus was ill. They had a strong faith to question Christ, because love always seeks truth and truth always leads to love and perfection. Questioning is a basic faculty of faith and it always clarifies the doubts for a constructive change and adaptability. However, Martha’s added statements envisage certain insights for us to ponder.
2. Believing: “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” - These words from Martha explicates her belief in the person of Jesus as a “Son of God”. She had a strong faith in Christ because even today we know that Christ is our high priest who constantly prays for us, (Hebrews 7:1-3) and he remains as our priest forever. Saint Paul entitles him as perpetual high priest in the priestly order of “Melchizedek” - (“melacha” means “King” + sedekah means righteousness in Hebrew). Jesus continues to pray for us and helps to deliver us from the impediments of this world. This statement fails not to say that she had a certain amount of belief in Jesus’s divinity and also with some shallowness about the imminent presence because there is always a struggle between reason and faith. Faith cannot be tested by reason completely because faith does cross visible boundaries and realities. We all vacillate between different polarities of life.
3. Affirmation: while carefully reading the dialogue between Jesus and Martha, the following text: Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the Resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the Resurrection and the Life; Whoever believes in me, though he dies, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”
This text exhibits her unequivocal affirmation about the Divinity of Christ. She was clarified by Christ that faith in Him will connect us to eternal life. Faith becomes complete only when there is action. Faith in God does not end in time; it's an everlasting bond and life with God. Even though Lazarus died again, this passage communicates that in-Christ we will live forever through faith. Death cannot prevail over the life in Christ. Let us continue to affirm the life in Christ and devote ourselves to live for Christ till our last breath.