October 28, 2015
(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)
Sometimes within a couple of verses of the Bible, the whole of the Christian life may be seen. Such is the case in John 12:1 through 3:
Then, six days before the Passover, Jesus, came to Bethany, where
Lazarus was who had been dead, whom He had raised from the dead.
There they made Him a supper; and Martha served, but Lazarus was
one of those who sat at the table with Him. Then took Mary a pound
of very costly oil of spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped
His feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of
How does this show forth the whole of the Christian life? These three verses feature three individuals Relating To Jesus. Each one relates differently, and portrays the three ways we Relate To Jesus as Christians. These three were all of the same wealthy family, a brother and two sisters who lived in Bethany, about two and a half miles west and a bit south of Jerusalem. Jesus and His disciples had been guests in the home of Lazarus, Martha and Mary more than once. (In John 11 is the well-known account of how the Lord raised Lazarus from death after he had died four days earlier.) Here, the three siblings were also guests along with Jesus and His disciples in another Bethany home, that of Simon the leper (see Matthew 26:6; Mark 14:3). But let’s look at these three, Martha, Lazarus and Mary, and see how they portray for us Relating To Jesus.
• The first is Martha in John 12:2 – “…they made Him a supper; and Martha served….” We hear much about ‘serving the Lord.’ “Serve the LORD” is repeated 23 times in the Old Testament, and “serve the Lord Christ” is found in Colossians 3:24. “Serve God ” is found twice in the Old Testament and three times in the New. Twenty one times in the Bible “serve Him” refers to serving God. So at least 50 times Scripture tells us to serve God! A common signage I have seen at the entrance/exit doors of churches reads thus: “Enter to worship, depart to serve.” So we get the idea that serving the Lord is just about the most important thing we should do as Christians!
But is it? Take heed to what is recorded in Luke 10:38 through 42:
Now it happened as they went, that He [Jesus] entered a certain village;
and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And
she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His
word. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached
Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve
alone? Therefore tell her to help me.” And Jesus answered and said to
her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things.
But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will
not be taken away from her.”
It says, “…Martha was distracted with much serving….” From what was she distracted? From the other important aspects a believer should be experiencing. In this case, Martha’s sister Mary “…sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word.” And Martha was too focused on serving, and not enough on sitting quietly and listing to Jesus’ words! You can get too wrapped up in various kinds of service – serving on boards and committees, taking care of buildings, equipment and grounds, helping at church dinners and other functions, ministering to those less fortunate, and a thousand other good service projects – and you can neglect the other parts of the Christian life (which are shown in the actions of Lazarus and Mary in our featured scripture).
Now service in the various aspects of the cause of Jesus Christ is important! According to the brilliant work of Don and Katie Fortune in their book, Discover Your God-Given Gifts, there are seven Motivational Gifts – gifts, you might say, that are built into our DNA. One of the seven is the gift of being a “Server, one who loves to serve others.” But service can distract you from other, even better things – like it did Martha. You must balance service with what we will discuss in our next two blogs – fellowship and worship. By the way, I highly recommend Discover Your God-Given Gifts for use in a class setting or just self study. It will help you discern which gift/gifts are prominently yours and how to best use them.
So “Serve the LORD with gladness…” (Psalm 100:2). Do the best you can in service to Him and His kingdom. But be sure to read the next two blogs – and balance service with fellowship and worship!