Martha vs Mary – Who Is “Better”?

Author: Stephen

After reading “Nightly Dew in the Desert”, especially the part concerning the possibility that the Mary of Bethany and the Mary of Magdala were the same person, I have felt the shocking waves in my heart.

Indeed, when we read the Bible under the influence of traditional views or of our own preceived notions, we hardly reflect upon certain passages from other angels or see them having deeper meanings behind the surface text. The blind spots we have in reading the Bible are closely tied up to the sinful nature we share with the fallen angels – only when we deeply recognize this can we humbly come to the feet of the Lord and learn to become more perfect from our unperfectness.

Being enlightened by the issue of two Mary’s being the same person, I cannot help but to turn to ponder upon the two sisters: Matha and Mary. According to the traditionnal view, we tend to think that Mary’s sitting at the Lord’s feet listening to what the Lord was saying is “that good part” and Martha is no better than Mary by making herself busy with doing things — even doing the work is good, it is not “that good part.” Gradually Mary becomes the example of working with mind but not with hands that numerous believers try hard to follow in order to get “what is better.” As a result Martha is sterotyped as a person of working with hands but not working with mind and her name becomes the synonym of choosing what is “the second best.”

However, think about it, when Martha and Mary’s brother Lazarus had died for four days and Jesus came to raised him from the dead, Martha not only went out to greet Him, she also said these words: “I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world.” (John 11:27)

We need to know that based on the four Gospel books, there are one man and one woman who directly knew that Jesus was the Christ. The one man was Peter — when Jesus asked His disciples whom He was, Peter was the one who said: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Matthew 16:16). The one woman was Martha.

If Marth was such a person who had a deeper understanding as to who Jesus was, can you say she is the “second best” person? Besides, when Martha came out the house and greeted Jesus outside the village, Mary was still in the house weeping her heart open for the death of Lazarus and she needed someone to tell her to do the right thing to meet the Lord — if Mary represents “the better one” how do you explain this part?

Obviously we might have misunderstood the meanings of the scriptures.

In my opinion, in oder to better understand the verse of Luke 10:42 “But one thing is needful: and Mary has chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her” we need to connect it with the pretext “Martha, Martha, you are careful and troubled about many things.”

In other words, the phrase “but one thing is needful” does not refer to what Mary is doing, but in reality is concerning Martha’s problem. It is not wrong for Martha to do many things. The issue is that she could not concentrated what she was doing because she was worried, troubled and falling into many distractions out of temptations. Perhaps she was working with her hands while thinking in heart how to hear the words of the Lord.

Contrast to Martha, the Lord points out that “Mary has chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” In other words, we should not say who is “better” and who is “less” between Mary and Martha. The verse seems to tell us: concerning the facts that Martha was troubled about many things but Mary was calm about one thing, what Mary had chosen was good and once she chose it she stayed there focusing on what she chose — this was exactly what the troubled Martha lacked.

However, choosing the good part this time does not mean a person can always choose the good part; one was not good in the past does not mean he or she cannot be good now and in the future — this is what Mary and Martha tell us using their real life experiences. When the temptation of Lazarus’ death came, the “better” Mary was stumbled while the “second best” Martha stood firm.

Next, when Lazarus was raised up from the dead and Jesus was close to going to the Cross, we see once again that Mary used her action of annoiting Jesus’ feet with her pure nard to demonstrate her choosing the good part one more time to satisfy the will of the Lord.

The name “Martha” has two meanings: “used to rebel” and “lady.” These two meanings that appear hard to connect to each other tells us one thing: as long as a human being who comes from a fallen angel truly repent can eventually become a “lady” — the wife of the Lamb.

The reason why Martha could become the first woman who called Jesus to be the Christ had something to do with her repentance after the Lord rebuked her. The reason why Mary could eventually become a “tower” (meaning of Magdala) who was specially mentioned about is closly related to her getting to know herself more and more, her naturally hiding herself’s “whiteness” and frankly revealing herself’s “blackness” that was associated with her past of being possessed by seven demons.

If we say that blessings do have the difference between “the better” and “the second best”, then Mary and Martha’s roles can be switched around at all times and all places. Yesterday’s “good part” may not be equal to today’s “good part” but today’s “second best” can guarantee that you will not get the best for tomorrow — this should be “that good part” that we can see from Mary and Martha due to their continued repentance.

Perhaps the process of Martha and Mary’s growth of life is the best footnote for the Lord’s saying “the last shall be first, and the first last.”

Note 1:This is a reader’s review of Theologos Publications’ six-book “End Times Series” ,To encourage more readers to share their thoughts of the book, as well as to satisfy some people’s preference to remain anonymous, all articles received will use a number chosen by the author to be his or her pen name.

Note 2:To purchase the ebook”Nightly Dew in the Desert” please simply click the link.

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