This Week's Story

Martha works hard and resents her sister Mary who sits listening to Jesus. Is one woman right and the other wrong?

This Week’s Story relives American history and the Bible through brief inspiring stories presented on mp3 audio recordings and text for reading.

Too much!

Martha was ready to blow a gasket! Her brother Lazarus watched her tense sweaty face. I hope she doesn’t embarrass us, and I wish Mary was helping her. Making a big dinner for Jesus and many guests is exhausting her.

Martha walked fast from the storeroom to the courtyard cooking fire mumbling, “The food will be good, but I will be too tired to enjoy it or the company.”

She strode impatiently into the large multipurpose room where people sat comfortably listening to Jesus. Mary was sitting at Jesus’s feet absorbed in what he was saying. She did not notice her sister, until Martha stood in front of Jesus.

“Jesus, don’t you think it is unfair for Mary to sit here while I do all the work? Tell her to help me.”

Lazarus thought: She’s succeeded in embarrassing everyone with her temper. I can’t believe that she would question Jesus about what He thinks is fair and then order Him to tell Mary to help with the work.

Lazarus looked curiously at Jesus. He said kindly, “My dear Martha, you are so upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it—and I won’t take it away from her.”

The people in the room were wordless, their minds trying to understand what Jesus had said. Lazarus watched their faces. Some were puzzled. Some smiled.

Martha’s face slowly relaxed and she quietly left the room. She had heard Jesus’s love and challenge for her.

Lazarus asked himself, “What is the one thing worth being concerned about? It is not strain or work. If I soak up God’s truths, then I will remain true to Him when the strain comes.”

Strain and joy came in following weeks. A week before Jesus was crucified, a dinner was prepared in His honor. Lazarus sat with Him and Martha served. Mary shocked some observers. She took a beautiful jar with essence of nard, extremely expensive perfume, and with her hair wiped it like an ointment on Jesus’s feet. The perfume’s fragrance and people’s protests quickly filled the room.

Judas Iscariot was especially upset, perhaps because often he stole money from the disciples’ funds. He and some disciples attacked Mary’s extravagance. They complained, “What a waste. She could have sold the perfume for a fortune and given the money to the poor.”

Jesus declared, “Why attack her for doing good to me? She has poured this perfume on me to prepare my body for burial. In the future when people hear the message of Good News, what Mary did will be talked about in her memory.”

The people were silent. What did Jesus mean? When was He going to die?

Mary, Martha, and Lazarus saw and heard. They knew that their understanding of His wisdom was puny, but they also knew that He loved them. They could trust Him.

This is Barbara Steiner with two stories you can research in Matthew 26, Luke 10, and John 11 and 12 of the Bible. I inserted Lazarus as an observer into the first story.

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