I am forever changed by grief, but grief is not the full measure of my life in Christ. “GLEANINGS from Claudia — The Abiding Life” explores this life attached to the One True Vine.
“Then Mary took about a pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus’ feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.” John 12:3
Last weekend I was blessed to participate in our church’s wonderful women’s retreat on the beautiful Oregon coast. I missed this event last year and it was so good to be back with this group of women focused on listening to the Lord and enjoying each other. One of the speakers, Kim Simmons, shared in passing a little bit about Martha and Mary. I honestly can’t remember exactly what she said, but I’ve been pondering Martha and Mary and their respective relationships with Jesus ever since.
Martha and Mary are sisters and about as different as two sisters can be. There is so much you can sense from reading the passages about Martha and Mary (Luke 10:38-42; John 11:1-3; John 12:1-8). It seems likely that Martha is the older sister and responsible for managing the household. Martha may also have had the gift of service. She is a realist and in control of her emotions. She has a good grasp of truth and she is direct in speaking that truth. She is the first person that the gospel of John quotes as stating that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. Mary, whom I suspect is the younger sister, is a feeler through and through. She is extravagant in the depth of her love and in the expressions of the same. She was completely prostrate with grief at the death of her brother, and collapsed at Jesus’ feet when He came to Bethany. Both sisters knew that Jesus could have prevented Lazarus’ death, but I don’t think either fully understood that He also could raise Lazarus to life again.
I so appreciate the way Jesus interacts with each of them. He loves them each just the way they are and in a way that resonates with each of them. He gently rebukes Martha in Luke 10:38-42, not allowing her to become small and self pitying as she serves Him, but encouraging her to understand the better thing. When emotional Mary grieves deeply in His presence He joins in her grief even though He knows that Lazarus’ resurrection is just moments away. When I see Jesus deeply accepting, teaching, loving, and communicating with the two sisters it encourages me to accept both myself and the way I’m made and to accept and love my ‘sisters’ who are completely different than me in their approach to Jesus. We can learn so much from each other and the way we love Jesus. And I think we can learn so much from Jesus and the way He loved these two very different sisters. What a blessing that the Lord made sure His relationship with this family was included in the gospels!
“Yes, Lord,” she (Martha) told him, “I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world.”