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Martha

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Martha was a woman from the city of Bethany in the Roman province of Judea, and was sister to Lazarus and Mary of Bethany. She was present and personally impacted by the works and teachings of Jesus Christ in her town, which particularly were directed towards her family.

It is very present through the Gospels in the New Testament of the Bible that Martha was the homemaker. It is very possible Martha was the eldest of her siblings, as she was in charge of all hospitality in her home: she was responsible for welcoming in and greeting guests, was always preparing the house or serving food, and always spoke first on matters concerning her siblings (in particular the affairs of Lazarus's death).


Etymology

The name Martha is taken from the same Aramaic root as that of her sister Mary. Both of the names originally denoted rebellion, but be largely used as common names, taking on the meaning of "mistress" as is the feminine form of "master." The mistress of a home often oversaw the servants as did Sarah with Hagar in ancient times. This name was very fitting to the role of Martha, though she seems to have been doing a servant's tasks as described in the Bible.


Biography

Early Life

Martha was born in the town of Bethany, about three kilometers (or 2 miles) from Jerusalem. At some point she apparently became the proprietor of the home of her father Simon, called the Leper[1]. It is possible Martha was the eldest child, because she would always be the one to greet guests, did all the house work, and spoke first on matters of her siblings.

She was given the name "Martha", which was very fitting for her since she would become a dedicated house servant to her siblings. This name may have been given at birth, giving her the expectation to become a homemaker, thus producing the worry she had when working[2]. This name may also have been assigned to her later on after she had become a homemaker.

Meeting Jesus

When Jesus was carrying on His ministry he went through the town of Bethany. As the homemaker, and manager of the house, Martha gave hospitality to Jesus by inviting him to stay[3]. While Jesus stayed there, Martha was busy working on a variety of preparations for the house, perhaps food or bedding for Jesus. While she worked, her sister Mary sat and listened to the teachings of Jesus. Martha became upset and asked Jesus to demand Mary to assist her in the housework she was doing[4].

Jesus replied, calling out her name twice, and assuring her that while she was worried about many things[2], there was only one thing she needed; her sister Mary had chosen this, by listening to Jesus's teaching[5]. After He had stayed under the hospitality of Martha, Jesus became well acquainted with Martha and her siblings and had great affection for all of them[6]

A Matter of Death -- and Life

Some point after this, Martha's brother became sick. So Martha notified Jesus that Lazarus was sick[7]. When Jesus heard this he made plans to return to the town of Bethany.

Shortly after, Martha's brother passed away. Many Jews from the nearby Jerusalem came to consul with Martha and her sister[8]. After her brother was buried for four days, Jesus arrived, and Martha went out to greet him[9]. Martha greeted Jesus telling Jesus that if he would've been there earlier her brother wouldn't have died[10], but she realized God would give Him whatever He asked[11].

Then Jesus reminded her that those who believed in Him would have life, and asked her if she believed this. Martha replied that she believed this and that Jesus was the Messiah and Son of God[12]. After this Martha ran and immediately got her sister Mary, who also was upset that Jesus had not arrived sooner. With this Jesus was greatly moved and so he went to the tomb with Martha and Mary[13].

Martha was then asked to have the tomb opened up, but at first she was hesitant because her brother's corpse would emit a foul odor[14]. Yet still Jesus told her that if she believed, she would see the glory of God. The tomb was then opened and Jesus called for Lazarus to come out. The dead man came alive, walked out and needed food.

Serving Dinner

Some time later Jesus returned to Bethany to see Martha and her siblings. A dinner was served in Jesus's honor and Martha served and waited on everyone[15], further demonstrating her work as the homemaker. Martha prepared and brought food for her brother, Jesus, His disciples, and other guests. Mary may have been preparing and serving alongside Martha[16], but Martha is the only mentioned as serving.

When a large crowd of Jews came to see Jesus and Lazarus, Martha would have been managing the household to assure that their needs were met.

Verses

  1. Mark 14:3 (Link)
  2. 2.0 2.1 Luke 10:41
  3. Luke 10:38 (Link)
  4. Luke 10:40 (Link)
  5. Luke 10:42 (Link)
  6. John 11:5 (Link)
  7. John 11:3 (Link)
  8. John 11:19 (Link)
  9. John 11:20 (Link)
  10. John 11:21 (Link)
  11. John 11:22 (Link)
  12. John 11:25-27 (Link)
  13. John 11:28-38 (Link)
  14. John 11:38 (Link)
  15. John 12:2 (Link)
  16. John 12:3 (Link)

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