Sunday 29 March 2020

Bible Book:

She said to him, 'Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world.' (v. 27)

John 11:1-45 Sunday 29 March 2020

Psalm: Psalm 130


Sandwiched between two passages that speak of the mounting opposition to Jesus’ ministry and those who wished to stone him for blasphemy (10:33) and “planned to put him to death” (11:53), we find Mary, Martha and Lazarus of Bethany – a family who were close friends of Jesus (v. 3).

While Lazarus being raised from the dead is clearly the most dramatic event in this passage, it threatens to eclipse Martha’s equally momentous declaration of Jesus as “the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world” (v. 27). Much is made of Peter’s confession at Caesarea Philippi (see Matthew 16:13-20 and Mark 8:27–30 and cf Luke 9:18–20) that Jesus is the Messiah, or his admission in John 6:68-69 that Jesus is “the Holy One of God". Far less is made of Martha’s declaration of the same, although it is all the more impressive because it is made in the midst of her grief and resentment that Jesus had not arrived sooner, when he could have healed Lazarus before he died (v. 21). Nevertheless, she places her trust in him and declares her belief in his divinity. She does not know what Jesus can do to improve the situation (her practical concern about the stench as Jesus approaches the tomb in verse 39 confirms that she did not anticipate that Jesus might raise Lazarus from the dead), but she trusts in who he is.

It is fascinating that Mary is often lauded over her sister because of Luke’s account of Jesus’ visit to their home, in which Martha is “distracted by her many tasks” (Luke 10:40) while Mary listens, enraptured, at Jesus’ feet. This harried, pragmatic, slightly petty woman is the Martha we see in paintings and imagine when someone describes themselves as "more Martha than Mary". Perhaps, in light of today’s passage, we should accord Martha her rightful place in the ranks of Jesus’ faithful disciples.


To Ponder:

  • How would you answer Jesus’ question: "Who do you say that I am?"
  • Why do we tend to hear more about Martha’s exploits in the kitchen than her declaration of faith?
  • What do you think life was like for Mary, Martha and Lazarus as Jesus’ friends?
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