How can I have a “Martha heart” without first knowing who Martha was?
As we gather in The Study today, let’s look at one of the few Scriptures that speak about this woman. There aren’t very many and, in most of them, she is doing the same thing….approaching Jesus or serving Him.
I’ll confess, I think Martha has gotten a bad rap from commentaries and theologians, pastors, teachers and artists…even from women. Most of the things I’ve read or studied about Martha always refer to the same thing…Martha was a complainer, she approached Jesus and demanded that He have Mary help her, she complained to Jesus that he wasn’t there when Lazarus was sick.
Maybe I’m a little naïve, but I want someone to recognize the good in Martha because most of the time…I’m Martha.
Luke 10:38 (ESV)…Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house.
Let’s state some basics that almost everyone agrees on….Martha, Mary, and Lazarus were orphans and Martha was the head of the household. It is also widely believed that they were a family of some wealth (based on the oil that Mary used to anoint Jesus’ feet, see John 12:3) and were well known in the area (based on the amount of mourners that assembled at Lazarus’ death, see John 11:19).
What we know for sure is that it was Martha’s home, she was the eldest, and she had invited Jesus into her home. Martha was in charge.
At some point, Martha met Jesus. It could have been while they were both in the city, in someone else’s home, or at her very own door. If they met outside the home environment, Martha had to be bold enough to approach Jesus, speak to him and then invite him to her home.
Today that doesn’t seem like such a big deal, but back then, women did not approach men, especially strangers, or speak to them without a male family member around. But Martha didn’t have any male family members that would fit that role, so she had to do it on her own (it is speculated that Lazarus was still a young boy at this time, under 13).
I wonder what would have caused Martha to do such a thing.
- Had she heard about his healing powers? I’ve imagined that Lazarus just didn’t get sick and die. In my mind, I’ve imagined that he was always a sickly boy. Did she want Jesus to heal him?
- Or, had she heard him speak and being moved by his ministry, desired to offer him a place to rest, much like the Shunammite woman who built a room onto her house for Elisha (2 Kings 4:8-10)?
For whatever reason she wanted him there, Martha stepped out of the norm and approached Jesus, boldly inviting him into her home. Not only that, she welcomed him.
Think about that for a moment.
- What does it mean to welcome someone into your home?
- And when was the last time you boldly approached Jesus?
Jesus does not barge into your home (your life). He stands at the door and knocks. (Revelation 3:20) He only enters when we invite him in.
Sometimes we just want to stand behind the screen door and chat with Jesus….like the rich young ruler (Matthew 19:16-22), but then we decide Jesus brings too much baggage and we don’t let him in the door. Or we only let him into the foyer while we run around like mad trying to straighten everything up before Jesus comes fully into the house (like the men that needed to bury their dead or say goodbye to their families before following him, Luke 9:57-62). Either way, we haven’t completely welcomed Jesus into our home.
If Jesus is welcome in our homes, we allow him access to every part at any time (dirty toilets and all). We invite Jesus to sit at the desk and help us while we balance the checkbook, pay the bills, and schedule events. We invite him into the kitchen as we plan healthy menus for our family (Jesus knows where we hide the cookies). We invite him into the family room to help us clean up our bookshelves and remove books and movies that are ungodly (Jesus helps us unplug the computer and disconnect the satellite!). We invite him into our bedrooms to help us restore relationship with our spouses. We invite Jesus into our powder room to help us deal with our self image.
Finally when Jesus feels completely comfortable in our home and we feel completely comfortable with him in our homes, then we can start to spend some time at his feet, in some serious learning from him.
You may think I’ve got that backwards…that we have to sit at Jesus’ feet first and then learn to invite him into the whole part of our home (our life). But for me, and maybe other Martha’s, while Jesus is going through my house and setting it right….I’m at his feet, I’m learning how he wants each area of my life to be. Some areas may require us to be on our knees, perhaps scrubbing with a toothbrush at the grim and grit that have collected over the years. The trash may be too heavy for me to carry and he has to remove it for me.
If I invited Jesus into my home without fully welcoming him into every part of it, while I sat at his feet, then I would be thinking about all the stuff that I’d hidden under the bed that I didn’t want him to know about. I would be trying to figure out how to not let Jesus see what movie I’d marked to watch as soon as he left. I would be watching the clock.
Have you invited Jesus fully into your home, your heart? Is he really welcome everywhere? Are you comfortable with him there? Are you ready to settle down and really get some learning done at the feet of the Master?