Martha’s Redemption



It’s Sunday morning and I’m Martha.

With Sunday dinner preparations, kids bickering over blankets and which shoes to wear and how did all those wrinkles wind up on Little Bit’s dress? The angst of it all swells and the cares of this household choke me near to death.

Yes, I’m on the way to church and I’m Martha, and how can this be…in the Lord’s very presence? I wonder if I’ll ever get it right.

Somehow we arrive to church early. The wind in the trees beckon us outside and we walk the property line with the kids. I walk under the shade trees, the wind carressing the skin. The words caress too, brushing against my angst filled soul,  “Now Jesus loved Martha.” 

We all know Martha to be the worried, distracted, serving one. But it says it right there in the scriptures that Martha was a beloved child of the Christ. My troubled heart leaps. Jesus loves us Marthas.

Chronology of the gospels place Jesus’ encounter with Martha in John 11 {the raising of Lazarus from the dead} after His reprimand of her in Luke 10:38. In other words, Jesus did not reprimand Martha, shake His head sadly at her, and then move out of her life. Quite the contrary. He identified her need and arranged an encounter to resolve it.

While we tend to leave Martha stewing in the kitchen, the Good Shepherd was so tenderized towards Martha after seeing her distraught and in bondage that He specifically arranged an encounter with her. An encounter that would liberate her from her worry-laden, stress- filled service. Isn’t that just like our Savior?

In front of the church, I pace under the trees while the children collect pine cones, my mind racing, recalling details of the John 11 account… How Jesus loved Martha so he delayed going to save Lazarus…How Martha came to meet Him on the road to question Him…How Jesus wept when He saw her grief…How He gave her a powerful “I AM” statement and asked “do you believe this?”…

This encounter that has Martha’s name all over the place might just be her turning point. Before our very eyes we may have the encounter intended to move Marthas the world over from angst-filled hearts into hearts that behold the glory of God.

And there in John 11:40, just before Lazarus is raised, He turns one more time to Martha and says, “Didn’t I tell you that if you believe you will see the glory of God?”

“If you believe…”

What is Jesus saying? Could it be that Martha’s troubled soul could find its rest through trust? For all her dedication and service, was deep, abiding trust the missing factor in how Martha related with her Lord?

The kids are throwing pine cones across the fence. Someone’s hair gets snagged in a branch and she jerks away, leaving a few strands dangling, blowing in the breeze. Oldest says it straight out: “Well God still knows how many strands you have left.” This same God who counts hair is the same One who says, “Do not worry…just believe.”

So why all the fretfulness? Isn’t fretfulness a failure to simply trust?

Stressed like Martha, sinking like Peter… we are overwhelmed by the waves of life because we look away from the One who walks on water, feeds sparrows, and numbers the hairs of our heads. And every time I cave to the swelling tide of noise, hurry, to-do lists, and chaos, it’s because I choose not to believe. I choose to believe the noise of turbulence instead of choosing abiding trust in the Savior.

All the while, our Shepherd arranges faith-producing encounters for His followers. He sees the affliction of our souls and walks on water right there in the midst of the turmoil. He delays the quick fix so that we might truly trust. “Do not doubt, only believe,” He gently coaches.

To all the Marthas today, Jesus is there asking, “Do you believe this? Do you believe I AM {all you need}?”

And if not, will you? Will you trust the One who is All-sufficient?


Seven “I AM” statements from the book of John

{Some Jesus statements to tuck into the heart and start believing~ in the chaos or in the kitchen}:

“I AM the Bread of Life.” Jesus, I will trust You to meet every hunger pang and satisfy every craving of my heart. I will turn to You and I will not be in want.

“I AM the Light of the World.” Jesus, I trust You to illuminate the darkness and I choose to walk by faith, not by sight. I need not rely on my own understanding.

“I AM the Door.” Jesus, I trust You to be my security, my safety, and to provide my “good pasture.” I will not seek my own grazing grounds but will trust You to lead me beside still waters.

“I AM the Good Shepherd.” Jesus, I need not be my own guide or shepherd. Rather, I will listen to and follow Your voice.

“I AM the Resurrection and Life.” Jesus, I trust You to raise the dead, smelly places within me to new life. I will not rely upon my own self-righteousness or good deeds.

“I AM the Way, Truth, and Life.” Jesus, I trust You to be the Way when there is none, to speak Truth in a world of noise and turmoil, and to be my very Life.

“I AM the Vine.” Jesus, I trust You to nourish my soul, to provide the succor and sustainence necessary to produce fruit.

{References: John 6:35, 8:12, 10:9, 10:11. 11:25-26, 14:6, 15:5}



P.S.  The third and final time we see Martha in chronology is in John 12. A risen Lazarus is reclining at the table with Jesus, Mary is wiping His feet with her hair, and Martha is serving Him… this trio of worship, three souls redeemed and brought full circle to life abundant. Jesus didn’t leave any of them where they were!

Are you a Martha? There is hope! Jesus isn’t content with us stewing in the kitchen, my friend. Grab onto His Person and believe! For she who believes will see the glory of God.