When my daughter was small we both watched a movie entitled, ‘Becoming Jane’. This post is about ‘Becoming Martha’. That is, becoming the Martha that Jesus made Martha to be. One of the most significant lessons on the Kingdom of God took place in Jesus’ Presence, showing that we can be close Him, yet not part of His Kingdom.
If we are tied to the law by an item like the Sabbath our best efforts never rise above the flesh to transmit spirit and life. Put it this way. It is politically incorrect to speak of people being retarded today. But this is what a law basis for living does to the human spirit and soul. It calcifies us in ‘the letter.’ Bluntly it retards our being and dulls our spirituality. Or in a manner of speaking it marinates us in spiritual disability. In the person of God, which is where we are in Jesus, we are replete with spirit and life. Rivers of water flow from our being that are not mechanical, not physical and not the result of effort. They are the spirit and life that flows from the trinity into our person and then into those we touch. Martha’s specialize in fleshly ministry. Mary multiplies spirit and life.
Both women were near Jesus but only one woman was ‘with’ Him, which is to say that only one of them was emotionally present with Jesus and regarding Him as Lord. Significantly Mary was spatially present with Him, being seated at His feet. The key words here is ‘seated’ and ‘feet’. Mary was still with a quiet spirit before Jesus. One woman was drawing life from Jesus while the other, quite close at hand, was attempting to build her self-esteem by ‘helping’ and getting things under control. The key word here is ‘control.’
As important as many of us think ‘doing’ is, Jesus said that what Mary had chosen what was better. Firstly she met Jesus’ need to be Messiah and God. Secondly she positioned herself to receive not just teaching but the spirit and life that only comes from God. Spirit and life belongs to our living in Jesus and our Father. This is the difference between our life in Adam and our life in Jesus.
Position is everything. Is our position in His Presence? This incident was not put in the New Testament as a lesson in temperaments or a comment on personalities. It’s a comment on our position in regard to Jesus’ Lordship. It’s a lesson in the Kingdom of God, contrasting the peace and fruitfulness of being under His Kingship with the busyness and dryness of being in our own need to perform. Since Jesus is The King we might notice that kings have things under control.
Those not ‘under’ Jesus, will feel that they must be ‘over’ others. As a woman Jesus means Martha to be captivating. Unfortunately Martha-ing can be irritating and alienating. There is an obsession with doing when the cry of the heart is simply to ‘be.’ Martha was attempting to control the situation. She attempted to control not only Mary but Jesus! Martha’s mode of earning significance distracts others from their pursuit of life, actually drains life from others and ensure that we ourselves remain a neuter rather than potent with spirit and life. The life of heaven never flows from law and performance. The latter just manufactures religion.
Martha-ists can establish themselves in positions of leadership, denying the Lordship of Jesus, taking in tow the insecure and multiplying dead works by their mechanical manner. Martha-ists do not operate in the power of the Spirit but in a spirit of relieving obligation and agitation. They have yet have to sort out the issue of the sovereignty of self from the sovereignty of Christ. When at last they do they can they release their families and associates from their tyranny and represent the Kingdom of God.
Jesus has established a Sabbath rest for all. This Sabbath is Christ our life. God calls the active and the contemplative to sit at the feet of His Son. Be still and know that Jesus is your God. Martha is not rebuked for being Martha. The Lords wants Martha to hide her true self in Him so that she might truly be revealed as the Martha He made her to be. Living in His Spirit with Christ as her life, Martha then imparts life rather than suffocating it in the name of service.
I could have entitled this post, “Becoming You.’ In Christ we become who we really are in. In anything less we are less than ourselves and prone to manipulation by the father of lies. But in Jesus you are a son of our Father and filled with the Spirit of Sonship.
In stillness, humility and rest at Jesus’ feet the dynamism of Martha becomes charged with the life of Jesus. In the power of the Holy Spirit her works become suffused with the divine energy of the Kingdom of God. Dead to the old Martha that was in Adam she is alive as the new Martha in Jesus. She imparts resurrection and life.