[Note: Last week, I was asked to speak in our YSA Stake Relief Society meeting as part of stake conference. The talk was sort of like this, or at least this is the best written version of what I said, with a few additions. I haven't ever posted a talk before, so here's to something new.]
In the New Testament, we hear of Martha and Mary, women who
sat at Jesus’s feet and listened to His word. We hear of Mary listening to the
Savior and Martha serving and asking the Lord to make her sister help too. Noting Martha's concern, the Savior answers Martha kindly and tenderly. “Martha,
Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is
needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part…” (Luke 10:42
We know very little beyond these few verses of the story, but it is tempting to draw a harsh conclusion against Martha when reading this. And often, our study of this particular story brings up the question, "Are you a Mary or a Martha?" implying that one is spiritual and one is not. But, I see Martha a little differently.
In Luke 10:38
we read that Christ “entered into a certain
village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house…and she had
a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word.”
Martha and Mary lived in Bethany with their brother Lazarus. They were disciples of Jesus Christ. When Jesus went to Bethany, he went to Martha’s own home. She received him. She served him. She also
listened to His words. And the scriptures even say, “Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus...” (John 11:5
As disciples, Martha and Mary both
listened to His words. Both loved him. In Daughters in My Kingdom
, we read, “in
an age where women were generally expected to provide only temporal service,
the Savior taught Martha and Mary that women could also participate spiritually
in His work. He invited them to become His disciples and partake of salvation
‘that good part’”.
But we read that Martha had a moment of rebuke, a moment where she thought
what she was doing was the right thing, but she wasn't. And the Savior gently taught her how to
Like Martha, have you ever had a day or a week or a month or
maybe always where you feel rebuked or chastened? Or like you can’t do anything
right? Where you try and you try but you still keep coming short?
Return to the story. The Lord tells Martha
that she is careful and troubled about many things, and sees those as virtuous
traits, but that she needed to seek Him.
What was she careful and troubled about?
The scriptures do not tell us her exact life circumstances.
However, she was living with her brother and sister in her home. We read no
words of a husband. We read no words of children.
It is possible that Martha was just like us. She had a home
to take care of. She was concerned because she desired to follow Christ’s
teachings but there was just so much to do. She, like we are, was perhaps
concerned about if she would find someone to marry. She, like we are, was
perhaps concerned about her livelihood. She, like we, may have often felt the pangs of
having a mother heart, one that calls out to us to nurture when we have no
children of our own.
So what are you careful and troubled with? Are you concerned
about what to study, where to work, what kind of work you should do, or where
your priorities should lie? Are you concerned because a loved one is suffering
from an illness or because a family member has recently passed away? Are you
concerned because you have a friend or a family member, or maybe even you,
yourself, struggle with same-sex attraction? Or maybe you are concerned because
your boyfriend just told you that he has a problem with pornography. Or maybe you
have suffered because of the addictions or actions of another. Or with
unemployment. Or with financial issues. Or maybe you are troubled because you
struggle with loving yourself. Or you have depression or anxiety. Or maybe you don’t know if the Savior can
forgive you. To all of these, I first say, the Savior wants to help you with
these concerns. And not only does He want to, He can and He will.
How? Well, what did Martha do with her concerns? We know
that she chose that good part. The continuing story of Martha and Mary comes when Lazarus is sick. Both sisters sent for Jesus, but Lazarus died before He came. When Martha heard the
Savior was near, she went to find him, to tell him Lazarus had died.
Martha said to Jesus, “But I know, that even now, whatsoever
thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee.”
I love her faith and testimony. She chose the good part.
The Savior then speaks to this extremely faithful woman of
God and says some of the most comforting words in all scripture, “I am the
resurrection, and the life, he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet
shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.
Believest thou this?”
“She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the
Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world” (John 11:25-27
This is one of the very few instances of a woman’s recorded
testimony in the scriptures. And what a testimony it is. “I believe that thou
art the Christ.”
This disciple of Christ, this faithful Martha, knew Christ
as the Savior. And we read that He wept with Martha and Mary and then, the Son of God raised Lazarus from the dead. Both Martha and Mary partook of the good part and witnessed miracles.
In February, it was the one year anniversary of the passing
of my grandmother. I was very careful and troubled about many things, including thoughts of my grandma, and my
heart was tender that day. I had training in Lehi during the day and I had planned to
stop off at the Jordan River temple on my way home from the training. As I
drove, I felt prompted to go to the Draper Temple instead of Jordan River. As I
drove toward the temple, I felt prompted to call my grandma’s brother—my
great-uncle who lives by the Draper Temple—and see if I could drop by. And then
I felt prompted to contact my mission companion—who also lives in Draper—and
who has 5-month-old triplets, to see if she needed help that night.
I did sealings at the temple, I visited with my great-aunt
and great-uncle. I went and helped get the triplets to sleep. My heart was so
full that night as I had been mourning my grandma. I had been troubled, but I
had followed the prompting to sit at the feet of Christ and partake in His
light that night. And little did I know that three weeks later my great-uncle
would join my grandma on the other side. Little did I know that I would be
asked to help at the funeral. Little did I know that because of what I did that
night when I was troubled, many promptings would follow that have led me to
some extremely personal, miraculous, and spiritual experiences in the past two
months. Because I chose to sit at His feet.
There are times when we are like Mary and are immediately at the Savior's feet. But there are many more times in my life when I am chastened by the Lord and I
feel Him begging with me to sit at His feet. Even this week, I was told several
times that I needed to be a kinder person and not get so frustrated about
things in my life. It is easy for me to chalk those experiences up to failures and to beat
up on myself. But that is not what Martha did, as far as we know. And even if she did, she came out of it. She rededicated herself. And to
her was given one of the most glorious truths of the gospel “I am the
resurrection and the life.” And from her mouth came a powerful witness of the
Savior, “I believe that thou art the Christ.”
My prayer is that when the Lord reminds us to come and sit
at His feet, that we will be as Martha, and we will do so. I know that as we
do, we will be strengthened and He will reveal marvelous truths to us. And He
will heal us.
I believe that Jesus is the Christ, the very
son of God. He is our Savior. And I know He lives.
***Below is a shortened rendition of "Make Me Whole" from Rob Gardner's Lamb of God. This song is a musical representation of Martha's pleading to Christ after Lazarus has died. It is so touching to me. I wish they had recorded the whole song, but since they didn't, I recommend buying this song.
In this, the character of Martha sings:
Yea, Lord: I believe that Thou art the Christ, which should come,
The Son of God,
But I do not understand…
Touch my eyes and bid them see
That my gaze might pierce the veil,
And behold the wondrous scene
That, in dreams, I’ve long beheld.
Oh, touch my heart and bid it know
That ev’ry sorrow here
Is but a moment’s tear,
And Thou wilt make me whole again.
Labels: careful and troubled, choosing that good part, chosen that good part, Lazarus, Mary and Martha, New Testament, raising Lazarus from the dead