Two women and two men in the Bible
In the Bible stories of two particular women, and two particular men, we see the love and broad acceptance that God has for His children, as well as an indication of God’s priorities.
In Luke 10:38-42, and in chapter 11 and the first eight verses of chapter 12 of John’s gospel, we read about Mary and Martha.
Martha was the well-established, dutiful sister. She owned a home [Luke 10:38], and she had a ministry of hospitality [Luke 10:40 and John 12:2]. Like many who serve diligently, she was a little put out by her sister, Mary, who simply “sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what He said.” [Luke 10:39-40].
As Jesus and His disciples were on their way, He came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to Him.×
But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made.
Here a dinner was given in Jesus’ honor. Martha served …×
She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to Him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”×
Mary was also the woman who poured expensive perfume on Jesus’ feet and wiped His feet with her hair [John 12:3].
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.×
It has often been pointed out, and it is important to do so, that Jesus commended Mary for choosing “the one thing that is needed” [Luke 10:42] – to pay attention to Him, to listen to Him, and to sacrifice our best for Him.
”… but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”×
However, it has to be seen that, while Jesus found it necessary to remind Martha of this priority [Luke 10:41-42], He never questioned her faith. In fact, Scripture records that it was Martha who had a revelation that Jesus was the Messiah [John 11:25-27] – a blessing that was also given to Peter [Matthew 16:15-17]. Also, Martha is numbered among the few people that the Bible specifically identifies as individuals that “Jesus loved” [John 11:5] which certainly honours her.
”Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”×
Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?”
“Yes, Lord,” she told him, “I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world.”×
”But what about you?” He asked. “Who do you say I am?”
Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by My Father in heaven.×
Jesus loved Martha and her sister …×
The Christian who has the gift of helping, or administration, or hospitality, need not feel that they are lesser spiritual people than those who are called, say, to lead worship or work miracles. But we all need reminding of the priority to focus on Jesus and to listen to Him.
With this in mind, we can read Jesus’ parable of the prodigal son in Luke 15:11-32. The story is well known, but worth re-reading.
When the wayward son turns back to the father, the father runs to meet him, accepts him completely and throws a celebration. What a revelation of God’s love for the lost and repentant!
But we also see the older son, complaining that he feels overlooked, despite being faithful and dutiful. The father reminds him of the need to celebrate over the return of the lost – to forgive, to accept and to rejoice – but the father also doesn’t fail to tell the loyal son: “Everything I have is yours.” [Luke 15:31].
”My son,” the father said, “you are always with me, and everything I have is yours.”×
We serve a God who will not forget your work and the love you have shown Him as you help His people [Hebrews 6:10].
God is not unjust; He will not forget your work and the love you have shown Him as you have helped His people and continue to help them.×