Sometimes, I think Martha in the Bible gets a bad rap! I am not saying that Jesus labeled Martha at all. Please hear me out. But I think we would be wise to avoid picking up and holding onto some of the dynamics in this potential sibling rivalry between Martha and Mary. Sometimes we insert ourselves into the narrative, and we can twist it, and subconsciously view Martha with a negative connotation. I want to take a moment and give you a positive perspective that may redeem Martha’s reputation. Because, over the years I have learned that Martha is an unsung hero.
A Renewed Biblical View of Martha
Let’s look at a couple of scriptures about Martha. I’m sure you know the statements, that “Mary chose the better part, that will not be taken away from her.” So, we rejoice over Jesus’ commendation over Mary!
We each need those life changing intimate times with God. Sitting at the feet of Jesus. I am not at all speaking negatively or belittling being in the presence of Jesus. We all need more of that! In fact, I have attempted to champion the revelation that, “Time alone with God is not time wasted, but time gained!” However, let us do a redemptive interpretation concerning Martha for a moment—where both Mary and Martha worship and serve together.
Let’s look at Luke 10:38, “Now it happened as they went, that He entered a certain village and a certain woman, named Martha, welcomed Him into her house.” The scripture doesn’t read that Mary welcomed Jesus into her house. By welcoming Him into her house, Martha engaged in an act of hospitality. Everybody loves a good host, don’t they? Martha appeared to have a ministry of hospitality. If it wasn’t for Martha, Mary would never have had the opportunity to sit at the feet of Jesus. It wasn’t Mary who went out and found Him. It wasn’t Mary who stood at the door and welcomed Him. It wasn’t Mary who fed Him.
Now, Martha got distracted for sure, and there might have been some reasons that she had a works mindset that apparently needed some ministry. Most Marthas do. But many “Marys” have their hang ups also that could be contributing factors to why they may want to stay in the house most of the time (possibly showing that many of them could use a “good sozo” or two also). So let’s be redemptive: Martha was an unsung hero.
Let’s Be Grateful for the Marthas
Thank you, Martha. You were used to welcome Jesus into the house. Sometimes we need more hosts, willing, and ready to open their home to the greater plan of God. These hosts, these hospitality ministers create a resting place and a respite for the weary, for those in need, and sometimes for Jesus to be able to minister to others. God, release some more Marthas that welcome You into their homes and welcome You into their cities! Also consider this, perhaps Martha was one of the first evangelists.
Let’s look at one more verse. John 11:20, “Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him, but Mary was sitting in the house.” Martha was not only a doer, but a goer. As soon as Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she got up and she went out and she met Him. She stepped into the role, again, as an outgoing host and greeted the guests in her city. She went out, and did not wait for Him to find her. She sought Him out, and met Him. Martha was a doer and a goer, meanwhile Mary stayed in the house. Won’t you step into the shoes of Martha and go out, and meet God and invite Him in?
Martha is an unsung hero. There are so many nuanced lessons here. I want to exhort you, to challenge you! Every Mary needs a Martha, and every Martha needs a Mary—it takes the convergence of Martha and a Mary brought together to help raise Lazarus from the dead. And a Martha and a Mary brought together with a Lazarus bring together a fullness and a wholeness of the testimony of Jesus in the last days.
In The Days in Which We Live
For those in the United States, the recent Supreme Court rulings (in overturning Roe v. Wade in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, supporting the right to pray publicly in Kennedy v. Bremerton School District, and making public benefits available to religious observers in Caron v. Makin) provide an excellent opportunity to partner with God and to partner with those in real need. It is an opportunity to move in the caring and compassionate spirit of Martha and find a way to bring forth wholeness and hospitality to provide for those in need. We must provide a safe space for Jesus to come and minister. We are invited to open our hearts and homes for a fresh foster care alternative and a godly adoption movement. We must offer alternatives in both prayer and action.
I exhort you to walk in a combination anointing of worship and serving (without blaming or pointing the finger at others). I bless all the Marthas out there. Just come sit at His feet too! And Mary, get up and help prepare the house. We have a lot of work to do in these days in which we live.
Always Remember, We Are Better Together!
James W. Goll
If you want to walk in the spirit of both Mary and Martha in your life, you’ll love James and Michal Ann Goll’s Heroines of the Faith Bundle, which includes the Heroines of the Faith book trilogy and the Heroines of Faith 12 MP3 Message Set. This powerful set tells the true stories of twenty-seven women who forever changed the world through their courage, compassion, and devotion to the secret place. They overcame fear to become strong in faith, took God’s unfailing love to the world, and passionately pursued the prize of God’s presence.