Mary and Martha
Who are they, and what was their relationship to Jesus? We will look at three narratives in the New Testament to answer those questions.
Mary and Martha were sisters, who lived with their brother Lazarus in the town of Bethany. Bethany was less than 2 miles from Jerusalem – travelers from Galilee would find it convenient to stop and stay there when going to Jerusalem. The town may have had a poor house and be a place of refuge for sick – town of Simon the leper. There is no mention of a father, mother or husbands. The home is referred to as “Martha’s” – perhaps a widow or their parents died leaving them in the house.
Martha opens her home to Jesus & his disciples, which would mean cooking and accommodating them, not an easy task. Curious townspeople would also be coming by to see and hear Jesus.
We see 3 stories in scripture
Mary and Martha – serving and learning Luke 10:38-42
Lazarus raised – faith is confessed John 12:1-11
Mary Anointing Jesus –preparation of Jesus for death Matthew 26:6-13, Mark 14:3-9
Read Luke 10: 38-42
- Whose house did Jesus stop at, and who was with him?
- What relationship was Mary to Martha?
- What was Mary doing with Jesus/disciples in the house?
- What was the significance of Mary sitting at Jesus feet?
Vs. 40 says Martha was distracted or cumbered by the preparations. The Greek word perispaó. per-ee-spah’-o: to drag all around, i.e. (figuratively) to distract (with care) — cumber.
- How does this word give greater insight into Martha’s priorities?
6. Martha interrupts Jesus teaching to try to get him to make Mary come help her. What was Jesus response?
Read John 11:1-55 This narrative is all about faith. Let’s focus on Jesus’ relationship with Mary, Martha & Lazarus. The miracle was so they might believe on the Lord Jesus Christ as the Messiah
- We are introduced to Lazarus. Who is he, and what is his condition?
- We get some interesting insight into Mary and a glimpse into future actions in vs. 2. What do we learn?
- What did the sisters do, and what was Jesus’ response?
- What does it tell us about Jesus’ feelings toward Mary, Martha and Lazarus?
- Jesus does not go directly to Bethany but stayed put two more days. He then announces to His disciples they were going back to Judea. Why did the disciples question the wisdom of going back to Judea?
- Jesus tells the disciples He is going to wake up Lazarus. Even after all this time with Jesus, how did the disciples respond? What did Jesus say about Lazarus’ state? What was Thomas’ response?
- Jesus arrives outside Bethany – just 2 hours from Jerusalem. What were Mary and Martha doing? Which sister leaves the house to meet Jesus?
- Even though Lazarus is dead for 4 days, Martha says something profound. What was it? What was Jesus’ response to her and what was her confession of faith?
- She returns to the house and pulls Mary away from the mourners to let her know Jesus is just outside the town and asking for her. What does Mary do, and what do the mourners say about her rushing off?
- What did Mary do when she saw Jesus? What did she profess?
- Seeing her grief and the mourners, Jesus was also moved to tears over their heartache. The crowd was divided in their response. What were the two reactions to Jesus weeping?
- Jesus goes to the tomb and orders it to be opened. What does Martha say, and does this contradict what she initially said to Jesus when she first saw him earlier?
- How does Jesus reply to her? What does He do in front of all the people?
- Of those witnessing the miracle, what was their response?
Read John 12:1-9
Matthew 26: 6-13
This story is in 3 of the Gospels, John refers to the anointing of Jesus feet – Matthew and Mark his head.
What were the circumstances in the 3 Gospel accounts?
Who was there?
Who was serving?
Who did something considered outrageous, and what was it?
Why did she do it – why does Jesus say she did it?
Were the disciples happy about what she did?
What did Jesus say would be done in memory of her? ( in Matthew & Mark)
Do you think Mary fully understood what she did?
Mary and Martha had complete faith in Jesus as the Messiah. Their personalities are very different, as demonstrated by their actions. This should be encouraging to you knowing that God has made you with your distinct personality to serve Him, know Him and believe on Him. The only one we should strive to be more like is Jesus.