Season 6 - Week 2
“You are worried and upset about many things”
The story of Jesus with Martha and Mary is one I have heard dozens of times. The moral (I've always been taught) is that we need to be like Mary, who just sat with Jesus and enjoyed his company, and not like Martha who Jesus tells off for being too busy doing jobs.
But is that really all there is to the story? I've always felt a little protective of Martha - imagine being told off by Jesus and then having that encounter immortalised in Scripture! And it got me wondering. What if Jesus' words to Martha are actually as compassionate, understanding and liberating as his words about Mary. What might be the story behind this encounter?
So here is an imaginative retelling, a stab in the dark at what their story might have been, and how Jesus might have loved Martha as much as her sister.
As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 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!’
‘Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, ‘you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed – or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.’
It's easy to rush through familiar stories, allowing them to confirm whatever we already think about Jesus. But there is so much going on in the Gospels, and so many questions to bring to God to help us appreciate the full beauty and complexity of the stories. We don't need to be afraid of those questions - they lead us to knowing Jesus more, not less. This week, in whatever context you're reading the Gospels, try being the person at the Bible study who asks really difficult, annoying questions (you can do it in your head if you're not ready to do it outloud!).
Do your own imaginative Bible study! Pick a passage from the Gospels that interests you and spend time reading through it. Pray that the Holy Spirit reveals more of Jesus to you as you go. Then write your own account of the story from the perspective of one of the characters and try to imagine how it would feel when Jesus said or did each of the things in the story.
If you feel brave enough, share what you've written with someone - your family, a friend, maybe even your youth group.