55 – Mary and Martha

When: September, 29 AD
Where: Bethany, Judea


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Jesus and his disciples left Bethany, Perea and passed through Jericho in the cool of the morning. Then they made the long, dusty, and dangerous journey up the Wadi Qelt to the Jerusalem area. By early afternoon they arrived at the village of Bethany, Judea, which was located on the eastern slope of the Mount of Olives. Jerusalem was only a couple of miles to the west.

Jesus stopped in Bethany, Judea to stay with Lazarus, Martha, and Mary. Mary, who had a quick and inquisitive mind, met Jesus as he entered their home. She made sure that his feet were washed and that he had something to drink. As Jesus began to talk she sat down to listen and quickly forgot about the other social amenities.

Martha, the older and “more responsible” sister, had also begun to care for the visitors. ‘Jesus and his disciples must receive proper care’, she thought. But as Mary did less and less, Martha had to do more and more.

The bread had been baked that morning as the women of Bethany gathered at the village oven with their barley dough. These loaves were served with olives, some fruit (figs, dates, grapes), and some wine [water being so difficult to keep fresh]. And then to prepare and serve the noonday meal for so many was not easy.

Minute by minute Martha became more sensitive to the “unfair” situation, especially when Mary ignored Martha’s “looks” and verbal hints. Mary was not doing her womanly duty to serve. Mary was being lazy and it was hard on Martha. Mary should NOT be allowed to get away with this “for her own sake” (it would get her into the wrong habit). So finally Martha asked Jesus to ask Mary to get up and help.

Jesus’ response came as a big surprise to Martha. ‘Relax Martha’, Jesus said, ‘this time she has gotten her priorities correct. Martha, what is most important is the word of God. Don’t let this opportunity pass. You also should sit down, listen, and feel the movement of the Spirit of God’.

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