Personally I think Martha gets a bad rap from a lot of preachers. While Mary was soaking in God’s Word at Jesus’ feet, sister Martha was flying around the kitchen making the first century equivalent of cornbread.
She got a bit hot under the collar when her sister wouldn’t help her.
Later, though, when Bro. Lazarus died, it was Martha who stepped up and hit the ball out of the park. In my opinion Mary fouled out to first base.
You may know the story. Lazarus was dying and the two sisters sent a message to Jesus to come heal him. Jesus deliberately waited and Lazarus was already stinking in the graveyard before the Lord showed up.
So Martha comes to him and stings him with her first words, “Master if you had been there my brother wouldn’t have died…” (John 11:21, The Message) No doubt true.
How many times during the course of a life do we accuse God because of things which happen to us?
Do I Ever Accuse God?
The old cornbread maker came out of it like a champion, though. “Even now I know that whatever you ask God he will give you …” (11:22). I love it, that facing her greatest pain, feeling like God may have let her down, she proclaims her faith clearly and powerfully.
Mary, in contrast, was only able to say, “Lord, if you’d been here my brother wouldn’t have died.” More an accusation that a statement of faith, though she didn’t quit. She came to the Lord.
Look how Jesus coaxes Martha’s faith out and makes it grow as she dares to believe more and more.
Tough situation (her brother just died and she had thought Jesus would heal him). Her faith level at that moment? She didn’t understand but she still believed in and loved the Lord Jesus.
Jesus challenged her faith level, “You brother will rise again.” (11:23) She had faith, but in the future resurrection. She spiritualized instead of grabbing hold of God’s promise for the current need in her life. ““I know that he will be raised up in the resurrection at the end of time.” (11:24, The Message)
Jesus ratcheted up the faith challenge once again. “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.” (NIV)
Question to grow by: “Do you believe this?” (11:26 NIV).
Now he’s not only challenging her to believe a dead man will rise but to believe that the man standing before her was, “I Am …” the Source of eternal life for those who trust in Him.
“I Am” is one of the names God gives Himself in the Old Testament.
If that is true, and you trust Him, and He wills it, the immediate problem is solved; “I Am” can do anything.
When Martha takes a running leap off the cliff of security, the faith needed for future resurrection and her present need is taken care of.
Sometimes we still gulp when the Lord dials it up a notch and asks us to believe Him in the new challenge in front of us.
He will help us grow through these three levels if we trust Him.
1. I don’t understand but I still believe You can and that You came from God. I love you.
2. I believe you for my immediate need (Lazarus come forth!)
3. I believe you are the Resurrection and the Life who gives eternal life to those who believe in Him.
That kind of faith isn’t only seen in deeply spiritual, reflective people who sit constantly at the Lord’s feet.
Cornbread cookers can do it too.