It was Martha who welcomed Jesus into her home. ‘Lord do you not care …my sister has left me to serve alone…’
I hear loneliness in Martha’s plea to the Lord. Typically, this verse is interpreted to juxtapose busy preparations with quiet learning to teach a lesson about work with faith. however, when we change the emphasis from Martha serving to Martha being alone something shifts. My sister has left me…to serve Alone, she cries. I can relate to that, not because she needs help and she is so busy, but because she is so alone.
I propose another view of Martha, one of a lonely woman who is desperately trying to connect and hold onto the people around her to fill her vacant heart , but Christ’s word’s offer her an alternative.
Martha loved Christ, we overlook that because of Mary’s dramatic outward expressions towards the Lord, which hide Martha’s quiet consistent service. She also sat at Jesus feet; . It was Martha who welcomed him into her home, it was Martha who told his disciples to get Jesus when her brother was ill, it was Martha who ran to him at the tomb of her brother, it was Martha who confessed and believed, and many people miss this, but it was Martha that Jesus loved in John 11:5. She was not a evil distant housekeeper in the light of her holy sister, she deeply loved Messiah, she longed for him. This is about Martha’s need and it wasn’t for an extra hand in the kitchen. I understand the aloneness Martha felt. Had she not deeply desired the Lord’s company she would never have cared that she was missing out on it.
Martha was alone in life. i know how that feels. I am a middle age house wife with two older children and a husband who works long days, I too often feel alone. i bet there are alot of people feeling alone and isolated right now. I understand Martha’s plight in these passages. Having guests is the highlight of my week- I love company in fact I love to prepare the house, welcome them in and serve them it makes me feels less alone. I think Martha was likely middle to later age, there is no mention of husband or children and she is pretty concerned about losing her only brother. Look how she begged Christ to come save Lazarus; John 11:20 Lord if you had been here my brother would not have died., but even now I know that whatever you ask of God Christ will give you.” There is a desperation in her words.
To eliminate loneliness human nature seeks to fill our dwellings with people, surround ourselves with bodies, voices, crowds, welcome them in, serve them, we want to hold onto their presence, a sense of belonging. We become distracted by physical and practical ways of doing so, we worry about people leaving before they even arrive.
When Martha approached Jesus, she leads with these words we can all relate to I think, Lord do you not care? These are the words of a lonely person, troubled and worried that no one sees her, that she will be left to herself. She is constantly seeking out Jesus, she wants to interact with him She is hungry for relationship.
The Lord desired to eliminate Martha’s loneliness. When Martha complains to him that Mary has left her and she is alone…Jesus responds by saying this : Martha one thing is needed.
One thing is needed to fill that loneliness you experience.
One thing is needed to bind up your troubled heart.
One thing is needed for me to stay with you.
One thing Martha one thing…abide…I am that one thing, abide in me and let my words abide in you, abide in my love. Martha longed for people to fill her barren soul she longed for company to erase her loneliness; surely if she could be surrounded by guests, family and friends. But Jesus is saying only one thing and its not in bodily form, its not the flesh and blood or community that will satisfy you, it’s not humanity you crave Martha. No, it’s one thing, the words of God, the word that spoke life into existence, the word that brought hope to the world. The word that became flesh and dwelt. It was not the unique nature of the flesh cladding those words, but the word itself dwelling in common flesh which transforms hearts and seals empty spaces. Jesus knows humanity which is why he left the holy spirit with us, when he ascended, he did not leave us alone. Because it is not good for man to be alone.
What can fill the void of loneliness that aches and throbs and nags deep in our soul ; we desperately race around inviting and welcoming people to fill rooms and tables in order to feel less alone, but what can fill that void that so quickly returns when the last guest leaves and the lights are turned down and the house is quiet again? Lord don’t you care, and here I am alone. Abandoned by those who ought to love me the most, don’t you care? Even You Lord recognize the sorrow that accompanies loneliness on the cross when you cried out to the Father…you understand don’t you do something? And his reply: One thing is needed…that good part ; Martha and I we need to hear his word spoken to our inner most being.
It is not the clamor of the crowd and the hustle and bustle of people which expels the darkness of the soul or fills the hungry longing to be close and known, it is not humanity which lances the grief that swells because no one cares enough to see how desperate my needs are. The part that is truly good that Christ speaks about as an alternative to the flesh of man is the word of God.
No one, not even animals want to be alone. Life seeks out life and yet it is precisely during this state of aloneness when Christ meets us, He joins us on the barren road as we travel without companion. He is drawn to the ache of lonely heart. All the saints of old were greeted by God in their isolation, their remote learning, their total quiet and at their empty table. It is here we realize our spiritual poverty and are able to feel the true impact of his word on our hollow and unfilled soul, it is here in the vacantness where we are able to taste the realities of his sweet fellowship. If you are lonely Dear one, as so many are right now, remember that only the true company of his living abiding word which will fill you up as it filled the barren world with life in the beginning so it will fill your empty heart with love until the end.
Lo, I am with you always even to the end of the age.-Jesus