By Jeremy Writebol
It’s amazing to me how different the personalities of siblings can be. My brother and I have the same genetic makeup from our parents, the same receding hairlines, and the same eyesight in need of significant correction—yet our personalities are very different.
Brian is the smart and adventurous type—a hands-on, mechanical guy. When we were kids, he was less inclined to participate in the “normal” team sports like football and basketball, preferring the outdoor adventures of mountain biking and summiting 20,000-foot mountains, or taking stuff apart just so he could put it back together again. I, on the other hand, enjoy picking apart an argument in a book. I’m the guy who follows team sports, and while I have climbed to 15,000 feet, I’m more apt to studying the subjects of the humanities: history and theology, and an occasional philosopher or two. My brother and I are a lot alike, but we’re also very different individuals.
Mary and Martha present the same sort of contrast, especially in their spirituality. Luke describes the time Martha and Mary were hosting Jesus at their home. Certainly, they were close friends, and having Jesus over didn’t seem unusual. But on this particular occasion, one sister, Martha, was busy preparing the meal and getting things ready. Mary, on the other hand, was sitting and listening to Jesus teach, in the place of a disciple. Instead of doing the work expected of the women in preparation of the meal, she was at the feet of Jesus, listening, learning, and receiving. Instead of trying to feed Jesus, she was being fed by Him. However, her sister, Martha, “was distracted by her many tasks,” her frustration obvious as she asked:
“Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to serve alone?
So tell her to give me a hand” (Luke 10:40).
While the differences between these two women stand out, their faith in Christ as the “resurrection and the life” (John 11:25), and their devotion and expressions of love to Him demonstrate that they were committed to the same pursuit: honoring and loving Jesus with all they had. Could that be the lesson for us? Could we be as bold in our devotion, service, humble learning, and trust of Jesus as these women were?
Both women cried out to Jesus, mourning the death of Lazarus: “Lord, If you had been here my brother would not have died” (John 11:21, 32). Their grief showed itself in their shared family traits: a bold, responsive, trusting faith in Jesus. And Jesus met them in their sorrow.
That faith built upon itself as Mary displayed her understanding of the work of Jesus, anointing His feet with luxurious, expensive oil, as if to prepare Him for His burial—this, too, was an act of worship and devotion (John 12:1–8). Mary understood that “one thing is necessary”—Jesus—and she chose Him above all else (Luke 10:42).
Though the faith of these women is shown in different ways, it is strong all the same. They held back nothing to follow Him and love Him. Could we be more like them in our own pursuits of Christ?
Written by Jeremy Writebol
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