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Daughters of God

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    Mary and Martha

    This chapter is based on Luke 10:38-42; John 11.

    Jesus frequently stayed at the home of Mary and Martha, and their brother Lazarus. Martha was often cumbered with the cares of daily duties, while Mary sought first the words of Jesus.

    Jesus had often found the rest that His weary human nature required at the house of Lazarus, in Bethany. His first visit there was when He and His disciples were weary from a toilsome journey on foot from Jericho to Jerusalem. They tarried as guests at the quiet home of Lazarus, and were ministered unto by his sisters, Martha and Mary.DG 57.1

    Notwithstanding the fatigue of Jesus, He continued the instruction which He had been giving His disciples on the road, in reference to the qualifications necessary to fit men for the kingdom of heaven. The peace of Christ rested upon the home of the brother and sisters. Martha had been all anxiety to provide for the comfort of her guests, but Mary was charmed by the words of Jesus to His disciples, and, seeing a golden opportunity to become better acquainted with the doctrines of Christ, quietly entered the room where He was sitting, and, taking her place at the feet of Jesus, drank in eagerly every word that fell from His lips.—The Spirit of Prophecy 2:358 (1877).DG 57.2

    As Christ gave His wonderful lessons, Mary sat at His feet, a reverent and devoted listener. On one occasion, Martha, perplexed with the care of preparing the meal, went to Christ, saying, “Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? Bid her therefore that she help me.” This was the time of Christ's first visit to Bethany. The Saviour and His disciples had just made the toilsome journey on foot from Jericho. Martha was anxious to provide for their comfort, and in her anxiety she forgot the courtesy due to her Guest. Jesus answered her with mild and patient words, “Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: but one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” Mary was storing her mind with the precious words falling from the Saviour's lips, words that were more precious to her than earth's most costly jewels.DG 57.3

    The “one thing” that Martha needed was a calm, devotional spirit, a deeper anxiety for knowledge concerning the future, immortal life, and the graces necessary for spiritual advancement. She needed less anxiety for the things which pass away, and more for those things which endure forever. Jesus would teach His children to seize every opportunity of gaining that knowledge which will make them wise unto salvation. The cause of Christ needs careful, energetic workers. There is a wide field for the Marthas, with their zeal in active religious work. But let them first sit with Mary at the feet of Jesus. Let diligence, promptness, and energy be sanctified by the grace of Christ; then the life will be an unconquerable power for good.—The Desire of Ages, 525 (1898).DG 58.1

    Like Mary, we need to sit at the feet of Jesus to learn of Him, having chosen that better part which will never be taken from us. Like Martha we need to be ever abounding in the work of the Lord. The higher Christian attainments can be reached only by being much on our knees in sincere prayer.... One fiber of the root of selfishness remaining in the soul will spring up when least expected, and thereby will many be defiled.—That I May Know Him, 351 (1894).DG 58.2

    In the inspired record we are told that “Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus,” yet after He received the message [that Lazarus was sick], “he abode two days still in the same place where he was.” Guided by divine wisdom, He did not go at once to His beloved friends. The message that came to Him did not meet with an immediate response. Mary and Martha did not say, “Lord, come at once and heal our brother.” They had confidence in Jesus, believing that He would do what was best for them. At length He said to His disciples, “Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep.”—Manuscript Releases 21:111 (1892).DG 58.3

    When He [Jesus] reached Bethany He heard from several persons that Lazarus was dead, and had been buried four days.... Martha hastened to meet Him; she told Him of her brother's death, saying, “Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.” In her disappointment and grief she had not lost confidence in Jesus, and added, “But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it unto thee.” Jesus encouraged her faith by declaring to her, “Thy brother shall rise again”....DG 59.1

    When Jesus asked Martha: “Believest thou?” she answered by a confession of her faith: “Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world.” Thus Martha declared her belief in the Messiahship of Jesus, and that He was able to perform any work which it pleased Him to do. Jesus bade Martha call her sister, and the friends that had come to comfort the afflicted women. When Mary came she fell at the feet of Jesus, also crying, “Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.” At the sight of all this distress, Jesus “groaned in the spirit, and was troubled, and said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see.” Together they all proceeded to the grave of Lazarus, which was a cave with a stone upon it.—The Spirit of Prophecy 2:362, 363 (1877).DG 59.2

    In all that He did, Christ was cooperating with His Father. Ever He had been careful to make it evident that He did not work independently; it was by faith and prayer that He wrought His miracles. Christ desired all to know His relationship with His Father. “Father,” He said, “I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me.” Here the disciples and the people were to be given the most convincing evidence in regard to the relationship existing between Christ and God. They were to be shown that Christ's claim was not a deception.DG 59.3

    “And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth.” His voice, clear and penetrating, pierces the ear of the dead. As He speaks, divinity flashes through humanity. In His face, which is lighted up by the glory of God, the people see the assurance of His power. Every eye is fastened on the entrance to the cave. Every ear is bent to catch the slightest sound. With intense and painful interest all wait for the test of Christ's divinity, the evidence that is to substantiate His claim to be the Son of God, or to extinguish the hope forever.DG 59.4

    There is a stir in the silent tomb, and he who was dead stands at the door of the sepulcher. His movements are impeded by the graveclothes in which he was laid away, and Christ says to the astonished spectators, “Loose him, and let him go.” Again they are shown that the human worker is to cooperate with God. Humanity is to work for humanity. Lazarus is set free, and stands before the company, not as one emaciated from disease, and with feeble, tottering limbs, but as a man in the prime of life, and in the vigor of a noble manhood. His eyes beam with intelligence and with love for his Saviour. He casts himself in adoration at the feet of Jesus.—The Desire of Ages, 536 (1898).DG 60.1

    By the raising of Lazarus, many were led to believe in Jesus. It was God's plan that Lazarus should die and be laid in the tomb before the Saviour should arrive. The raising of Lazarus was Christ's crowning miracle, and because of it many glorified God.—Manuscript Releases 21:111 (1892).DG 60.2

    *****

    Simon [Simon was the one who had led Mary into sin. He was her uncle. See Appendix A.] had been healed of the leprosy, and it was this that had drawn him to Jesus. He desired to show his gratitude, and at Christ's last visit to Bethany he made a feast for the Saviour and His disciples.... At the table the Saviour sat with Simon ... on one side and Lazarus ... on the other. Martha served at the table, but Mary was earnestly listening to every word from the lips of Jesus. In His mercy, Jesus had pardoned her sins, He had called forth her beloved brother from the grave, and Mary's heart was filled with gratitude. She had heard Jesus speak of His approaching death, and in her deep love and sorrow she had longed to show Him honor. At great personal sacrifice she had purchased an alabaster box of “ointment of spikenard, very costly,” with which to anoint His body. But now many were declaring that He was about to be crowned king. Her grief was turned to joy, and she was eager to be first in honoring her Lord. Breaking her box of ointment, she poured its contents upon the head and feet of Jesus; then, as she knelt weeping, moistening them with her tears, she wiped His feet with her long, flowing hair....DG 60.3

    Judas looked upon this act with great displeasure.... He asked, “Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor?” ... The murmur passed round the table, “To what purpose is this waste”? ... Mary heard the words of criticism.... She was about to shrink away, when the voice of her Lord was heard, “Let her alone; why trouble ye her?” ... Lifting His voice above the murmur of criticism, He said, “She hath wrought a good work on me. For ye have the poor with you always, and whensoever ye will ye may do them good: but me ye have not always. She hath done what she could: she is come aforehand to anoint my body to the burying.”—The Desire of Ages, 557-560 (1898).DG 61.1

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