Martha

Jesus often visited Martha, Mary, and their brother Lazarus at their house in Bethany, near Jerusalem. The gospels mention members of this family several times, but in one account, Jesus and his disciples visited them in Bethany (Luke 10:38–42). While Martha worked in the kitchen preparing a meal for the guests, Mary, her sister, sat at the feet of Jesus and listened to him discoursing. Martha, annoyed that her sister wasn't helping with the meal preparation, complained to Jesus.

But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me. And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her. (Luke 10:40–42)

Jesus had made the point succinctly: Martha could spend all of her time worrying about the things of the world (food preparation, entertaining the guests, and being a great hostess), but Mary had chosen to learn about things not of this world. The nourishment Mary sought was not for the body, but for the soul; she had chosen the “good part,” and it would never be taken from her.

Jesus taught many women supporters, not just Mary and Martha. The Parable of the Sower follows the text in Luke 8:1–3. Women were with him, and certainly stayed to hear that story. There were so many people gathered there, in fact, that later in the gospel it states that Jesus' mother and brothers came and couldn't get close to him because of the size of the crowd (Luke 8:19–20).

Many people know that women (or a woman — Mary Magdalene — depending on the account) found Jesus' empty tomb, and that women stood vigil at the foot of his cross. But not many may be aware of the nongenderspecific language Jesus used, such as calling men and women “children of wisdom,” instead of singling out one gender or the other in his stories. The Web site www.religioustolerance.org/cfe_bibl.htm makes an interesting case for Jesus telling parallel female/male stories that are found throughout the New Testament gospels and Acts.

When their brother Lazarus died, Martha and Mary sent for Jesus. When she was told he was approaching the town, Martha went to meet the Lord. Mary remained inside the house until her presence was requested. That day, Jesus gave the grieving Martha words of hope after she told him that she believed Lazarus would rise again at the resurrection on the last day. Jesus told Martha that she would see Lazarus before then.

Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this? She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world. (John 11:25–27)

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