November 1, 2010
Did Martha Stay in the Kitchen?
Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. John 11:5
Friend to Friend
I just love the story of Mary and Martha. If you're not familiar with it, go back and read it. It won't take long. You can find it in Luke 10:38-42.
Now let me ask you this? What do you think Martha did after Jesus walked out of the kitchen to resume His teaching? We are not told. Luke simply goes on to another story and leaves us with Martha holding the spoon and Jesus holding the door.
M.L. del Matro, in his book, All the Women of the Bible, re-tells stories of Biblical women in narratives that paint beautiful landscapes with the simple outlines given in the Scriptures. In his story of Martha he writes that Martha was freed from "the imprisoning, lethal order she craved, so that she could live." He went on to say:
After that amazing meal, order gradually became less and less her god, less the air she needed for breathing and more simply a product of her active giving and receiving of love. She learned to relax and let other people do what they did best without feeling challenged or threatened, because she learned what she could be, was in fact, loved for who she was, not for what she did and how she did it. That was how her service was becoming service in reality, not just a disguise for control nor a means to prevent her own annihilation. That "better part" became her choice as well, thanks to Him." (M.L. del Mastro, All the Women of the Bible, (Edison, NJ: Castle Books, 2004), p. 270)
Have you ever wondered why the story of Martha steamed up in the kitchen was included in the gospel in the first place? It's not about a healing, deliverance, or absolution of sin. It is not one of Jesus' parables or related to his journey to the cross. Think about it. I believe the story is included as an example of how Jesus came to set women free…free to become his disciples, to sit at His feet, and to join the classroom that had previously been reserved for men. I believe it is included to help women see just what is truly important in this life.
So what did Martha do after she walked back into the kitchen? I'll tell you what I think she did. I think she stewed a bit more - at least for the rest of the day. But at some point, Martha took Jesus up on His invitation to join him in the classroom. She became a disciple as well. How do I know? Because of her response to Jesus' pop quiz after Lazarus died. "I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world," she replied. Yes, she passed with flying colors.
Our last glimpse of Martha is at Simon's dinner party where Mary anointed Jesus' body with perfume and prepared him for burial. And where is Martha? Why, she's in the kitchen serving. Being a disciple of Jesus Christ does not release us from our day-to-day activities and responsibilities. We still cook dinner, vacuum the house, dust the furniture, go to the office, drive carpool and fold laundry. But knowing Jesus gives us the freedom to serve joyfully, giving to others out of the overflow of our relationship with the Savior. God didn't change her natural bent toward serving, but did change her sinful bent toward complaining, projecting her expectations, and attempting to control others.
Yes, at this final party, Martha was serving in the kitchen. She wasn't fussing about it - worried, bothered, and distracted because Mary wasn't doing her part. After all, Mary was right where she belonged. This time Martha served with a new attitude of thanksgiving and praise for the One who had set her free.
She was free to be who God had created her to be…Martha. And Jesus loved her (John 11:5).
Dear Lord, I am so glad You opened the door for women to learn and become Your disciples. Help me never forget the wonderful privilege I have to open Your Word and spend time in Your presence every day.
In Jesus' Name,
Now it's Your Turn
Martha's response to Jesus about the resurrection proves that she had spent time at Jesus' feet. What responses to others in your life would let them know that you have done the same?
I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's devotion. Log onto www.facebook.com/sharonjaynes and let's chat!
More from the Girlfriends
Today's devotion was taken from Sharon's new book, What God Really Thinks about Women: Finding Your Significance through the Women Jesus Encountered. We tend to read the gospels with our twenty-first century eyes. But when we understand how oppressive the culture Jesus stepped into was toward women, we begin to understand just how radical Jesus' ministry, messages, and miracles were at setting women free. He risked His reputation to save theirs…and yours. To order this life-changing book, visit www.sharonjaynes.com. You'll fall in love with Jesus all over again.
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