This is the third and final post in the series “Are You Pleasing God?“. Thank you for reading!
As the crowd of people gathered at Golgotha, Martha was standing beside her sister Mary and brother Lazarus. She glanced over at Mary and noticed the tears streaming down her face. Lazarus appeared empty, staring into space with a glassy look in his eyes. He was truly perplexed and despondent.
Martha didn’t know what to think, she was numb. As she was watching the Roman soldiers nail her friend’s hands and feet to the cross she couldn’t help but think of the recent events that led to that day. “What on earth is happening? How did we get here?” she thought. “It was just last week that Jesus was in our home and we were having dinner.” She started to reflect on that day. She recollected the people there and the hope they all shared after having Lazarus back and in good health.
Then, she remembered the perfume…
John 12: 1 Six days before the Passover celebration began, Jesus arrived in Bethany, the home of Lazarus—the man he had raised from the dead. 2 A dinner was prepared in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, and Lazarus was among those who ate with him. 3 Then Mary took a twelve-ounce jar of expensive perfume made from essence of nard, and she anointed Jesus’ feet with it, wiping his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance.
4 But Judas Iscariot, the disciple who would soon betray him, said, 5 “That perfume was worth a year’s wages. It should have been sold and the money given to the poor.” 6 Not that he cared for the poor—he was a thief, and since he was in charge of the disciples’ money, he often stole some for himself.
7 Jesus replied, “Leave her alone. She did this in preparation for my burial. 8 You will always have the poor among you, but you will not always have me.”
“What was Mary thinking anyway?” she pondered. “That smell filled the whole house!” Then she thought of Jesus’ rather strange rebuke of Judas. “He knew this was going to happen. What? How could he know? Why? I don’t understand.” She said to herself.
It was then that they raised Jesus on the cross.
Jesus’ face was barely recognizable. Mary started weeping uncontrollably as Lazarus took her in his arms. It was a gruesome sight as they heard some onlookers scoff. “I can’t believe what they are saying?” Martha thought.
Mark 15: 31 The leading priests and teachers of religious law also mocked Jesus. “He saved others,” they scoffed, “but he can’t save himself!
“How could they do this to such a humble and gentle man? What did he do to them? After all, he called Lazarus out of the grave.”
Immediately she thought about the day Jesus finally came back to Bethany, too late to heal her brother Lazarus…
John 11: 20 When Martha got word that Jesus was coming, she went to meet him. But Mary stayed in the house. 21 Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if only you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask.”
23 Jesus told her, “Your brother will rise again.”
24 “Yes,” Martha said, “he will rise when everyone else rises, at the last day.”
25 Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying. 26 Everyone who lives in me and believes in me will never ever die. Do you believe this, Martha?”
27 “Yes, Lord,” she told him. “I have always believed you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one who has come into the world from God.”
Later, when Jesus arrives at Lazarus’ tomb…
39 “Roll the stone aside,” Jesus told them.
But Martha, the dead man’s sister, protested, “Lord, he has been dead for four days. The smell will be terrible.”
40 Jesus responded, “Didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s glory if you believe?” 41 So they rolled the stone aside. Then Jesus looked up to heaven and said, “Father, thank you for hearing me. 42 You always hear me, but I said it out loud for the sake of all these people standing here, so that they will believe you sent me.” 43 Then Jesus shouted, “Lazarus, come out!” 44 And the dead man came out, his hands and feet bound in grave clothes, his face wrapped in a headcloth. Jesus told them, “Unwrap him and let him go!”
Jesus wasn’t late, after all.
“What a glorious day that was.” She thought, “Jesus wasn’t late, after all, he was right on time!” A tear started rolling down her cheek. “I was so angry and upset with him for not being there for us. It didn’t make any sense to me. But now as I look back, it was perfect timing. Even our cousins in Jerusalem came to believe in him. But now this?”
John 19: 28 Jesus knew that his mission was now finished, and to fulfill Scripture he said, “I am thirsty.” 29 A jar of sour wine was sitting there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put it on a hyssop branch, and held it up to his lips. 30 When Jesus had tasted it, he said, “It is finished!” Then he bowed his head and released his spirit.
“It can’t be!” Martha cried out. “Why has this happened? What happens now? Where do we go from here?” she screamed inside. Then she thought of an earlier time when Jesus was in her home. She recalled the first day they met, “I was so busy preparing that meal…”
Luke 10: 38 As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. 39 Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught.40 But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.”
41 But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! 42 There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”
It was then that a rush of indescribable emotions flooded her body. “Mary got it, she truly appreciated Jesus and I missed it! I was so concerned about having things ready and ‘perfect’ and I even interrupted Jesus and Mary in the process. “Her emotions overcame her. She started wailing as she realized it was too late. “Jesus is gone.” she thought. She then felt deep regret. “I missed the one thing worth being concerned about. I was a believer all along, but I didn’t fully experience Jesus.” After spending a seemingly long time weeping together, the three of them left the site for their home in Bethany. They were drained and devastated over what just took place. All they had now was each other for consolation.
Did Martha regret not spending more time with Jesus?
I don’t know if Martha was there to witness Jesus’ death or not. I believe it’s likely. It is clear from these passages that she was a woman of service, and had a gift of hospitality. She seemed to take responsibility and made sure that her guests were taken care of. I can’t say for sure that she felt regret, but I believe she probably did. I like to think she met with Jesus after His resurrection. Oh, what joy that would have been. I can only imagine Jesus restoring her soul as Jesus restored Peter’s. (John 21: 15-19)
Do you have any regrets? Have you been spending time at Jesus’ feet, spending time in His presence and listening to what He’s teaching? Jesus’ Spirit is there for us, just as He was then. Mary got it and was deeply blessed, Martha was a believer, but missed the main message, the person, and presence of Jesus Christ.
Matthew 11: 29 Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
Just one last thought as I close, because none of us want these regrets:
2 Peter 3: 10 But the day of the Lord will come as unexpectedly as a thief…”
Did you receive the Teacher’s lesson?
“O Holy God, you are the bread of life. Apart from you, I can do nothing. Please help me to understand this same lesson Jesus taught while on earth. Help me to commit to spending time with you daily. For my life is but a breath and a whole year passes by before I know it. Thank you so much for not only sending your Son to die for me but also for the capability to know you on a personal level. You are incomprehensible and nothing compares to you. In Jesus’ name, I pray, Amen”