Sisters

The second of our dear ladies represents – Sister. {Dedicated to my dear sister in Christ – Dorothy}

Daughters of the same father are sisters. When a woman is adopted into God’s family through the cross of Jesus she becomes a sister to others in Christ. I suppose there are a number of Scriptural illustrations of sister relationships but let us consider those most famous of sisters – Mary and Martha. Our thinking will use all three passages in which Mary and Martha appear: Luke 10:38-42, John 11:1-44, and John 12:1-3. These these stories are familiar, but let’s think about the sister relationship and the progression of Mary and Martha’s understanding of who Jesus is and what He represents.

In the first instance Martha is worried and bothered to the extent that she accuses Jesus of not caring. Read Martha’s question is verse 40. “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone?” Can’t you just hear her voice? Jesus points out her worry and distraction and tells her that Mary has indeed made a good choice to sit at His feet.

The second mention of the sisters is at the death and rising of Lazarus. Martha is again the consummate hostess and Mary still appears to be sitting. In this story, read the sisters’ words carefully in verses 21 and 32. They are exactly the same! Don’t you think that these two women must have discussed Jesus’ coming to them? Then go on and re-read Martha’s statements in 22-28.  I am impressed with Martha’s affirmation of Jesus’ relationship with God the Father. “Even now…” she says.

The other thing I notice in this story is that Mary is sitting in the house. Wasn’t that where we saw her last time – sitting at Jesus’ feet? Martha declares her belief in who Jesus is and where He comes from then immediately goes to get her sister. In this story Martha went out to meet Jesus, learned more about Him, and then goes and gets Mary to also see Him.

Finally the last story, John says very specifically “Martha was serving” (John 12:2). Lazarus is there, alive, at the table – not dead in the tomb. And Mary…Mary is once again at Jesus feet, but this time she too is serving. She serves with an offering of fine perfume poured out on His feet. These sisters have both learned to know and serve Jesus. Mary’s tangible expression of love would not have been possible without Martha’s gift of hospitality. Martha appears to have learned to serve out of love and not obligation. Each had special gifts to offer and learned how to use them to honor and glorify Christ.

I pray that this lesson will allow us to recognize ourselves in the behavior of Mary and Martha – sisters in Christ. Sometimes we need a gentle admonition against our fears and worries, or we may need to hear the approval of our difficult choices. We may need to confront our disappointment that God does not always rescue and protect by our timetable but that He is currently here with us – the “I AM” – and trust Him. We can allow that the learning takes place over time and through our experiences and increasing knowledge of Jesus Christ. What we learn is to be shared with our sisters. Let us be diligent and intentional about finding and nurturing our sisters in Christ as Mary and Martha must have done.

“Above all, keep fervent in your love for One another, because love covers a multitude of sins. Be hospitable to one another without complaint. As each one has received a special gift, employ it is serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.”  1 Peter 4:8-10

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