Martha and Mary - the Bible text

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Mary & Martha's story

Martha and Mary argue

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Martha and Mary in the garden with Jesus

Bible Women: Martha & Mary

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The tomb of Lazarus

Painting of Martha and Mary with Jesus, He Qi

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Martha and Mary

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Death and Burial

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Bible text for this story

 


Famous paintings
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Martha and Mary


Should women work, or stay at home? In a way Mary and Martha faced this problem. Martha knew domestic chores were essential, though undervalued; Mary demanded equal rights with the male disciples. 
Who was right?

See the Activities Page for more on this question.

 

 

Friends and disciples of Jesus    

Luke 10:38-42, John 11:1-44, John 12:1-8


Martha Seeks Help from Mary   Luke 10:38-42

38 Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village; and a woman named Martha received him into her house.Loaves of bread39 And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching. 

40 But Martha was distracted with much serving; and she went to him and said, "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me."41 But the Lord answered her, "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things;42 one thing is needful. Mary has chosen the good portion, which shall not be taken away from her."

Velazquez, Diego Rodriguez de Silva, Kitchen scene with Christ in the house of Martha and Mary

Kitchen scene with Christ in the house of Martha and Mary, Velazquez


The Raising of Lazarus    John 11:1-44

1 Now a certain man was ill, Laz'arus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha.2 It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Laz'arus was ill.3 So the sisters sent to him, saying, "Lord, he whom you love is ill."4 But when Jesus heard it he said, "This illness is not unto death; it is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by means of it."5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Laz'arus.6 So when he heard that he was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.

Interior of a tomb in Bethany, said to be the one in which Lazarus was buried

7 Then after this he said to the disciples, "Let us go into Judea again."8 The disciples said to him, "Rabbi, the Jews were but now seeking to stone you, and are you going there again?"9 Jesus answered, "Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any one walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world.10 But if any one walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him."11 Thus he spoke, and then he said to them, "Our friend Laz'arus has fallen asleep, but I go to awake him out of sleep."12 The disciples said to him, "Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover."13 Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that he meant taking rest in sleep.14 Then Jesus told them plainly, "Laz'arus is dead;15 and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him."16 Thomas, called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, "Let us also go, that we may die with him."17 Now when Jesus came, he found that Laz'arus had already been in the tomb four days.18 Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off,19 and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother.

It is typical of Martha that she did not wait for Jesus to actually arrive. Here was the same bustling, impetuous person to whom action came naturally. Mary on the other hand sat at home, as reflective as she is in the Synoptic gospels.

20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, while Mary sat in the house.21 Martha said to Jesus, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.22 And even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you."23 Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise again."24 Martha said to him, "I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day."25 Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live,26 and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?"27 She said to him, "Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, he who is coming into the world."28 When she had said this, she went and called her sister Mary, saying quietly, "The Teacher is here and is calling for you." 29 And when she heard it, she rose quickly and went to him.30 Now Jesus had not yet come to the village, but was still in the place where Martha had met him.31 When the Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary rise quickly and go out, they followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to weep there.32 Then Mary, when she came where Jesus was and saw him, fell at his feet, saying to him, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died." 33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled;34 and he said, "Where have you laid him?" They said to him, "Lord, come and see." 35 Jesus wept. 
36
So the Jews said, "See how he loved him!"
37 But some of them said, "Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?" 38 Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb; it was a cave, and a stone lay upon it.39 Jesus said, "Take away the stone." Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, "Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days." 40 Jesus said to her, "Did I not tell you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?"

Resurrection of Lazarus, Tanner

Resurrection of Lazarus, Tanner

41 So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, "Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me.42 I knew that thou hearest me always, but I have said this on account of the people standing by, that they may believe that thou didst send me."43 When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, "Laz'arus, come out." 44 The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with bandages, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, "Unbind him, and let him go."


The Dinner Party   John 12:1-8

1 Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Laz'arus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2 There they made him a supper; Martha served, and Laz'arus was one of those at table with him. 3 Mary took a pound of costly ointment of pure nard and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the ointment. 

4 But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was to betray him), said,

5 "Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii* and given to the poor?" 6 This he said, not that he cared for the poor but because he was a thief, and as he had the money box he used to take what was put into it. 7 Jesus said, "Let her alone, let her keep it for the day of my burial. 8 The poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me."

* A labourer's rate of pay was one denarius a day

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