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Aug 27, 2018

Martha and Mary written by Judy Franklin

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"Your name was to be Sarah for princess, but I name you Mary for the bitterness I feel at not being able to watch you grow and you not being able to know me as your mother. But Martha will be your mother and you will love her as she is your wonderful sister.”, 'Martha was truly a lovely child. She knew her parents loved her and they were a very happy family. YHWH had blessed them indeed. Martha's father owned a very successful business that prospered them greatly. They had a large house and several servants to help run the house. But even though most everything was wonderful, and they thanked their God for all their blessings, there was sadness in the house. You see, Martha's parents had always wanted a house full of children, but it had never come to be. Martha herself had cried out to God because she wanted someone to share all her blessings with, and then there was that sadness from her parents that was always near.

As Martha grew, she showed an aptitude for managing whatever task was given to her. Martha's mother taught her how to run the house using the staff. Her father took her to the family business and taught her how to manage all the workers and the buying and selling of their products and supplies. Her parents would often say how wonderful Martha was. Yes, she was like a daughter and a son.

Year after year Martha's mother cried out to the God who delivers asking Him to deliver her from bareness, but it had never happened...

until...

One day, in her advanced years, she realized she was pregnant. Oh, how the house rejoiced. Martha's father didn't care that he was older; he was going to have another child. Martha's mother would talk with people in the region and say, "I'm changing my name to Sarah, for I am old and God has blessed my womb. "And then they would all laugh.

Martha was so excited. She wove a special blanket for the child that would be her brother or sister. She was 14 years old, and she couldn't have been more excited. She had been betrothed to Asher for years, and as soon as she turned 15 they would be wed. This would take the sting out of her leaving her home and joining Asher in a neighboring city.

The family would talk over all the names they thought would be good. Lazarus if it was a boy because it meant God's help and surely this child would bring help to their home. Or Sarah if it was a girl because she would be their little princess.

Even though advanced in years, Martha's mother went through the pregnancy without any trouble. Then the day came; she gave birth to a boy and named him Lazarus. But the pains didn't stop. The midwives watched as a foot started to emerge from the womb. "Twins. "they all exclaimed. But the foot meant the baby was coming the wrong way. They quickly went about trying to turn the baby. Finally, the child came, a girl child. But the stress of the delivery had taken the very life out of Martha's mother. After several hours of the women trying to take care of Martha's mother, they knew there was nothing else to be done, and she was about to leave this world. She called Martha over to her bedside and weakly whispered,

"Martha, you now have to take on another job. You must help your father raise these two children. Remember to love them more than anything else. Martha, I'm commissioning them into your care. "

Martha's father brought the babies in to their mother and laid one on each side. Because of all the excitement of the birth, they had not officially named the girl child. As Martha's mother looked at her, she smiled, and said,

"Your name was to be Sarah for princess, but I name you Mary for the bitterness I feel at not being able to watch you grow and you not being able to know me as your mother. But Martha will be your mother and you will love her as she is your wonderful sister. " And with that, she entered into Abraham's bosom.

Great wailing went on in their house. People came from the surrounding region to pay their respects to the family because the family had been known to be righteous before their God and generous to all who knew them. There was such sorrow at the passing, and yet such joy at the birth of the beautiful twins.

After several weeks, Asher came to visit Martha. They spoke of their future together. Martha told him of her mother's request for her to help to raise her brother and sister. For Asher, taking on two babies was going to be difficult. It would be even more difficult because he would not be in a father position. How would this work? And there was the problem of Martha being miles away after their marriage. How could she care for the children? Would her father allow them to be taken by Martha to her new home? If not, what then? Martha remembered her mother's last words to her,

"Martha, I'm commissioning them into your care. " Martha knew this would be terribly hard for Asher. So in her grief over her mother's death and the commission she had been given, she told Asher that he must find someone else. She knew her God would want her to take care of her father and the babies. She had always been a girl that would go the extra mile to help. Her heart had always been tender to those in need.

During the next 5 years, Martha raised Lazarus and Mary to honor God and their father. She couldn't have loved them more if they had been born from her womb. She also began taking over more of the business dealings from her father. After her mother had died, he seemed to lose interest in everything but the children. He would rather spend time with them than go to work. Martha now was not only daughter and son, but also a mother and businesswoman. She was so efficient in all her tasks that no one thought that it might be too much for this young woman.

After 5 years, Martha's father became very ill. Martha had the servants take turns sitting by his bed every night in case he might awaken and need something. One night, one of the servants came running into her room.

"Martha, Martha, your father is calling for you. "

She immediately ran to his room.

"Father, what is it. "

"Marth. "her father said in a very weak voice,

"It's time I went to be with your mother. "

Martha cried, "No, father. The children need you. "

He smiled and said, "No, daughter, they need you. You have been a daughter, sister, mother, and have been in charge of the family business. Now it is time for you to become a father also. God has graced you with the most wonderful, caring heart. I know He is as proud of you as I am. "

With that last word to her, her father drew his last breath.

It's so strange how heartbreak can come in such huge waves that you think you cannot survive, but life goes on anyway. Martha had to settle her heart on raising the twins and running the family business. She felt this was what God had called her to do.

Lazarus and Mary both had sensitive spirits. Lazarus loved to fish and many times brought home dinner for the table. Mary loved to sit and sing to their God. She made up songs and poems about Him and His promise of a Messiah.

One day Lazarus came home and told her of meeting a man named Jesus. Martha said she had heard of this Jesus. He was the son of Mary and Joseph in Nazareth. His followers had told Lazarus many stories of Jesus healing people. Martha had heard stories, also. Who was this Jesus? She was curious about all the stories. She told Lazarus the next time he saw Jesus, invite him to eat a meal with them.

The very next day Lazarus came running back to the house.

"Martha, Martha, Jesus is coming to our home for a meal. And Martha, all his disciples are coming with him."

Martha raised an eyebrow at Lazarus, but it didn't even phase him. Jesus and his twelve men were coming to this home for dinner this very night. Martha set about getting the servants together to prepare the meal.

That night started a deep friendship between Jesus, Martha, Mary and Lazarus. After the meal, they would all sit around and listen to Jesus teach. He was the wisest and profound man Martha had ever heard. She had not heard anything like this from even the temple priests or the rabbis that came to her home. She had heard the rumors about Jesus healing the sick and casting out demons; signs and wonders following Him everywhere he went. Now she knew they weren't rumors.

Now whenever Jesus was in the district, he would stop by to see their family. Sometimes Jesus' mother, Mary, would come with him. Even though Mary was older than Martha, the two became close friends. After all the house had bedded down for the night, Mary, the mother of Jesus, and Martha would sit and Mary would talk of all the wonders she had seen in her travels with her son. One night, with tears in her eyes, Mary told Martha about that destiny-filled night when the angel appeared to her and told her she was to have a son. It was like Martha already knew and this just confirmed to her that what she had been feeling was true. No one had ever taught or done the miracles like Jesus. He had to be the Son of God, the Messiah.

When Martha heard that Jesus was in the district once again, she sent her servant out to meet Him and ask him to come and share a meal at her house. Of course, Jesus accepted and Martha hurriedly started to prepare the meal with Mary and the servants' help.

When she heard them coming up to the house, she hurried out to the door to greet them. Jesus and His men, what a group, she thought. So many different backgrounds and they were all so wonderful, well, most of them. She greeted Jesus, Matthew, John, and then there was Peter who came up and swung her around, with Martha protesting strongly, but loving every minute of it. The best cook in the district, he would say, was Martha. All the rest filed in, and then came Judas. Martha nodded her head in recognition. She didn't trust that man. It so puzzled her why Jesus would have him in His company. It was obvious to her that the character of Judas was not very good.

As they settled in, Martha returned to the kitchen. So much still left to do.

"Mar. "she called, "would you get the cups ready ". Not hearing an answer, she called out again. Looking around she didn't see Mary anywhere in the kitchen. Where was that girl? She was with me when I greeted our guests. Martha went and peeked around the corner looking where all the guests were seated, and there was Mary. She was sitting at the feet of Jesus, listening to every word.

Martha quietly went in and whispered to Mary,

"I have some things for you to do for the meal. "Mary was always obedient so Martha didn't wait for an answer, she just turned and walked back to the kitchen believing that Mary would be right behind her. She busied herself with the preparations. In a few minutes, she realized that Mary still hadn't come into the kitchen. Martha went back to where Jesus was sitting and there was Mary, still sitting at his feet, listening intently to everything He had to say.

Martha again quietly went in and told Mary to come and help. And again, after a few minutes, she realized Mary had not obeyed her. This time it wasn't just that she needed the help...it was that Mary was not being obedient. This time Martha went in quietly and waited until Jesus stopped speaking and someone else was talking.

She leaned over and whispered to Him, "Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone "?

He shook His head yes, to signify that He did care, and Martha went on,

"Then tell her to help me. "

Jesus smiled at Martha and softly spoke to her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her. "

As he finished saying these words, He gently pulled Martha down so she was also sitting at His feet. At that moment, an unveiling of her mind happened. She received the revelation of what He was saying; the words that He was speaking would have an effect for them for all eternity. She had heard Him quote before the Scripture that man shall not live on bread alone, but by every word that comes from God. And didn't she believe that He was the Messiah? Hadn't Mary, Jesus' mother, told her about His birth? Yes, this was the better portion. This was more important. It may take the food a little longer to get on the table, but this is the better way.

So that's my story. Fiction... maybe. Of course, we won't know until we get to heaven and "know all about it. "But I like this story. The reason? I am a Martha. I've been a Martha all my life. I would be the one serving, the one working. I never resented the Marys of this world, although sometimes I would observe them and wish I could be like them. I just felt we had different roles. I didn't do my Martha-ing out of performance mode (anyway most of the time), I did it because those are my gifts and I like serving whether it's hospitality or paperwork. My nephew would walk to my office from his school and wait for me so I could take him home when I got off. He was sitting in my office one day and said that I looked like I really liked my work. I told him I did. To me work was fun. He looked at me like I was a little crazy, but that is the truth. I love doing "stuff. "I'm gifted in that area. I have a gift of administration. I am working in my gifting and that is a good thing. Martha was also gifted. She was also working in her gifting right at that time, hospitality.

I have gotten tired of hearing Martha put down year after year; Mary's is the better way, so we tend to disrespect Martha for what she was doing. I know that Mary sitting with Jesus was the better way because that is what He said. And I'm not going to go into the "we have to be balanced" mode.

I feel so many people think that Martha was a shrew, that she went into Jesus and in a loud voice proclaim her dissatisfaction with Mary. Martha wasn't bad, or even insensitive, she was doing what she thought was good. She was making Jesus and His disciples their meal. They needed the meal; they needed the nourishment from food. But there were others that could help her. People think that Mary was His favorite because she initially chose the better. And of course He loved Lazarus; after all, He raised Him from the dead. When Lazarus died, who was it that went out to meet Jesus? John 11:20 "Martha therefore, when she heard that Jesus was coming, went to meet Him, but Mary stayed at the house. "Mary had listened to the teaching but missed the power behind the words. Both Mary and Martha said the same things to Jesus, but Martha at least went to Him while Mary had to be called out to Him.

Now please don't think that I'm disrespecting Mary. She found the better way! But then, I believe, Martha did too. And through this story, I also have found a better way. Eight years ago, Jesus said, "I'm going to teach you how to be a Mary. "Teach me, He has. It is a better way! Have I given up my Martha's way? No, those are my gifts and I love to serve in all the different areas of my giftings. But, to sit at Jesus' feet...to listen to His heartbeat for this world...for me...for you...this is the best. To worship Him. To give Him my heart, time and time again, because I seem to end up with it instead of leaving it with Him. To know He will take my heart and treasure it time and time again because that's the way He is. Yes, this is the best.

So all you Marthas arise. He's waiting for you to quiet yourself and sit at His feet. He's waiting, not to scold you for working or for something you've done wrong. He's waiting to tell you how much He loves you. It takes courage to listen to Him say "I love you" when you don't think you deserve it. Be courageous. Go! Your strength and the better thing is choosing to sit at the feet of Jesus, not to work out of duty, but out of a relationship with Jesus. John 11:5 says "Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus." Why didn't he mention Mary? He is just showing us that He loves all us Martha's. Did He mean to slight Mary? Of course not. He just wanted to tell the Martha's of the world He loves us.

Sometimes I think my new name is Martha Mary, but then there are other times I think it's Mary Martha. I like them both. I like doing "stuff. "but I love sitting at His feet, and that's the best!

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