Women of the Bible - Martha and Mary Women Who Loved Jesus by Kathryn Capoccia Young Adults Sunday School Class All Scripture references are taken from the HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION (C) 1978 by the New York Bible Society, used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. © Copyright Kathy Capoccia 2000. This file may be freely copied, printed out, and distributed as long as copyright and source statements remain intact, and that it is not sold. I. Introduction A. Prayer Requests B. Review of Last Week's Lesson/Verse II. Character Profile: Martha and Mary, Women Who Loved Jesus A. WHO WERE THEY? (read LUK 10:38-41; MAT 26:6-13; MAR 14:3-9; JOH 11; 12:1-3). 1. What were their names? a) Martha: more- it means "lord" or "master". b) Mary: myrrh- it means a bitter, pungent herb. 2. Where did they live? In Bethany, about 2 mi. from Jerusalem. 3. When did they live? In the 1st century A.D.; these incidents occurred during the earthly ministry of Jesus @30A.D. 4. Who were their people? They were Jewish- they had a brother named Lazarus (who would be raised from the dead by Jesus in JOH chp.11). 5. Were they followers of Jesus? Yes (LUK 10; JOH 11:5). 6. Who were their friends? a) Jesus and his disciples (JOH 11:5,20,30) b) those of Bethany who chose to mourn with Martha and Mary upon their brother's death (JOH 11:19, 31). 7. What was their economic state? No definitive answer to this is found in scripture, but it would seem that the were women of some substance because: a) they could afford to offer hospitality to Jesus whenever He was in town (LUK 10:38; JOH 12:1). b) the elaborate meal that Martha prepared in LUK 10 spoke of affluence. c) the many Jews that came from Jerusalem to comfort them at the death of Lazarus bespeaks their prominence. d) the value of the jar of ointment that Mary poured on the Lord testified to wealth (JOH 12:3,4). B. WHAT DID THEY DO? 1. They Loved Jesus And Served Him a) They had an open house for Jesus *It was the custom in the Middle East to offer hospitality to visitors, who could remain there for at least a three day stay (MAT 10:11). It was believed that guests were sent from God and that to entertain and protect them was one's sacred duty. Wealthy people sometimes kept a special upper room in readiness for visitors (II KI 4:10). 1) Whose home was it? It was Martha's home- though Mary and perhaps Lazarus lived there it is referred to as Martha's home, which indicates that she was the eldest in her family. 2) What were houses like in Israel? a] Village houses were usually built as 1 room dwellings; in the cities homes of more than one room were usually made. A prosperous home would have at least 2 rooms and an open court between them; a home of 3 rooms would be constructed around the courtyard in a "c" shape; if there were more rooms these would be attached to the side rooms, thus making the courtyard longer. Around the courtyard a rectangular wall provided privacy; this would have had a large door or gate in the center of the street side to permit entrance to the house (sometimes the large door would have a small door in it to be used for ordinary passage, the gate being reserved for important visitors or the like). The courtyard was often used as a place as a place for entertaining guests- serving them meals. b] Because stone was not plentiful in Israel houses were constructed of a combination of mud brick, wood, and rubble stone (for the foundation). Walls made of mud brick on a stone base were plastered over with mud and, in some cases white-washed. c] Wealthy houses were frequently 2 stories high, with the family quarters on the 2nd floor (with a wood balcony and staircase leading from the courtyard). A living room would have been furnished with furniture such as lampstands, chairs, benches, and stools. There would have been divans around the borders of the room to be used as beds. The walls would have been decorated with a painted wainscot. Cooking would have been done over an open hearth or brazier. Ovens were located in the outer courts as were cisterns or water storage jars and other storage containers- storage rooms were located on the bottom floor. Animals would have been housed on the ground floor also. d] Roofs were flat structures which were constructed of tree poles or palm tree trunks with a layer of smaller branches, reeds, fronds, or brush over them, capped by a final layer of packed clay. Frequently used roofs had parapets around them to keep people from falling off. An outside staircase provided access and awnings sometimes covered the roof terrace from the heat of the day. These roof areas were favorites for evening sitting. e] Floors on the ground floor were beaten earth, perhaps with a lime coating; 2nd story floors were constructed as roofs were with an addition of a lime plaster topping. f] Doors were not always used but if there were doors they were panel doors fitted to a post and lintel doorframe. Windows were large openings if they faced the court- yard, or smaller openings with lattices if they were in walls facing the street. *This information comes from "The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia", copyright 1978, vol.3, pgs. 217-220. 3) How often did Jesus stay? The scriptures do not mention how often Jesus stayed with them in Bethany but it mentions three separate visitations toward the close of His ministry: a] LUK 10:38-41 b] JOH 11:1-43 c] MAT 26:6-13; MAR 14:3-9; JOH 12:2-11 b) They Gave Their Best 1) Martha used her gift of hospitality a] she hosted feasts for Jesus i] in her home she prepared an elaborate supper (LUK 10:40). LUK 10:40 "But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made." ii] at the home of Simon the Leper she served as hostess (JOH 12:2; MAR 14:3; MAT 26:6) JOH 12:2 "Here a dinner was given in Jesus' honor. Martha served, while Lazarus was among those reclining at the table with him." b] personal feasts were given for: i] weddings (GEN 29:22). ii] the weaning of a child (GEN 21;8). iii] the birthday of a king (GEN 40:20). iv] the arrival or departure of a guest (GEN 19:3; 26:30). c] at feasts: i] servants would pour water over guest's hands to cleanse them before the meal, the feet having been cleansed upon entering the house. ii] guests would recline around 3 sides of a low table, sometimes on couches or divans, with each guest leaning on his left arm with a pillow behind and his lower body stretched out. The next guest would recline head to breast of the 1st. iii] the greater honor a guest had the higher elevation he had and the closer he was to the hosts right or left side. Guests occupying the lowest favor were on the ground floor near the door: those in favor were on an upper story near the host. iv] meat (beef, mutton,) was cooked (boiled or roasted) and served at feasts, whereas ordinary fare was cheese, bread, olives, oil, buttermilk, fruits and vegetables only. Wine was a part of the meal, though all wine was diluted. v] a special honor the host could pay was to offer a guest a "sop", a dipped piece of bread, with his own hands. vi] music and dancing were a part of feasts, though men did not dance with women. vii] after the feast the hands were again cleansed by pouring water over them and drying them on a napkin or towel. *This information came from "Manners and Customs of Bible Lands", by Fred H. Wright, Moody Press, copyright 1953, pgs. 35-68. 2) Martha struggled with a balanced ministry a] she wasn't spending enough time with God LUK 10:41 "Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, LUK 10:40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!" b] she lost her focus and spent her efforts doing what she thought was important, not God. LUK 10:40 "But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made." LUK 10:41,42 "you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her." c] she sinned- i] she became frustrated and resentful of Mary LUK 10:40 "...my sister has left me to do the work by myself..." ii] she rebuked Jesus for not intervening LUK 10:40 "She came to him and asked, 'Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!'" 3) She was corrected by Jesus (LUK 10:41,42). LUK 10:41,42 "'Martha, Martha,' the Lord answered, 'you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.'" AREN'T WE SOMETIMES LIKE MARTHA, WORRIED AND BOTHERED BY SO MANY THINGS THAT WE FORGET OUR FOCUS AND BEGIN TO SIN? 4) Mary "sat at His feet" WHAT DOES IT MEAN "TO SIT AT HIS FEET"? When an important rabbi taught he would sit on an elevated level from his listeners and they would sit around him at his feet. a] she devoted herself to learning (LUK 10:39). LUK 10:39 ..."Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said." b] she anointed Jesus' head and feet 6 days before his death at the home of Simon the leper (Joh 12:2-11; MAT 26:6-13; MRK 14:3-9). i] she served Jesus by preparing Him as well as she could for His burial, because she believed that He would soon die (JOH 12:3; MAT 26:12; MRK 14:8). -- she was criticized for her gift by the disciples, led by Judas (JOH 12:5,6). I. he was greedy - he wanted to steal the money it would have brought if sold, since he was a thief (JOH 12:6). II. he didn't want Jesus to have honor since he had determined to betray Him (MAT 26:14). III. the disciples saw it as a waste of money because they thought the perfume should have been sold and the money given to the poor. -- she was commended by Jesus (JOH 12:7; MAT 26:10,12,13; MRK 14:8,9). I. for preparing Him for His burial MAT 26:10,12 "Aware of this, Jesus said to them, 'Why are you bothering this woman? She has done a beautiful thing to me. When she poured this perfume on my body, she did it to prepare me for burial.'" MAR 14:8 "She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial." II. for her faith and love MAT 26:13 "I tell you the truth, wherever this gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her." MAR 14:9 "I tell you the truth, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her." ii] she sacrificially gave to Jesus a very costly gift HOW EXPENSIVE WAS IT? -- "nard" or "spikenard" (vapoos) was both an east Indian plant and the fragrant ointment made from its roots: it was expensive because it was imported from India in sealed alabaster jars. -- nard could not keep its fragrance long after its seal was broken- to open it meant it had to be used up or be rendered useless. -- the amount of nard that she gave was worth a year's wages for an ordinary workman (300 denari): this would be like a $35,000.00 jar of perfume today (the average yearly income of Americans). iii] she humbled herself to anoint Him -- she anointed His head (as tradition dictated) *a guest's head was anointed as he entered a dwelling; a wealthy host could use "nard", instead of olive oil, if he wanted to show special honor to his guest. -- she anointed His feet even though it was a servant's job to attend to the feet of guests (normally feet were washed with water). -- she let her hair down to wipe his feet- ordinarily a woman never let her hair down in public. 2. They leaned on Jesus a) they needed Jesus because Lazarus was sick (JOH 11:1-12,19). 1) they knew that Jesus loved Lazarus and assumed that He would save him from death because of that love (JOH 11:3). JOH 11:3 So the sisters sent word to Jesus, "Lord, the one you love is sick." 2) Martha and Mary knew that Jesus was able to heal Lazarus (JOH 11:21,22; 11:32). JOH 11:21 "'Lord,' Martha said to Jesus, 'if you had been here, my brother would not have died.'" JOH 11:32 "When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, 'Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.'" b) they needed greater faith 1) they had faith a] Martha: i] Martha believed that Jesus could ask and receive anything from the Father (JOH 11:22). ii] she understood the facts of the resurrection of the saints on the last day (JOH 11:24). b] Mary believed that Jesus could have saved Lazarus from death (JOH 11:32). 2) they had an incomplete faith a] Martha did not understand who Jesus really was i] she did not understand that Jesus was her superior because she spoke to Him in the Greek as an equal or inferior, somewhat demanding of His intervention (JOH 11:21). ii] she did not understand His power over death and resurrection- that He was not merely some tool of the Father to effect miraculous works, but that He was truly God and could truly intervene at will in the creation. b] Mary came to Jesus in her grief seeking comfort, not really believing that Jesus could do anything for Lazarus after the fact of his death (JOH 11:33,34).. 3. They learned from Jesus a) He taught them 1) He preached the Gospel to them LUK 4:43 But he said, "I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns also, because that is why I was sent." MAR 1:14,15 "After John was put in prison, Jesus went into Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God. 'The time has come,' he said. 'The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!'" WHAT WAS THE "GOSPEL" HE PREACHED? a] the call for a new birth of spiritual regeneration (JOH 3:7) JOH 3:7 You should not be surprised at my saying, 'You must be born again.' b] the call to true worship (JOH 4:23,24). JOH 4:23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. JOH 4:24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth." c] that God receives repentant sinners, not the self-righteous (MAT 9:9-13; LUK 19:10). LUK 19:10 For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost." d] that only God can give spiritual sight (JOH 9:37-41). e] that a disciple must "count the cost" of faith and be willing to forsake all to follow Jesus (MAT 19: f] that a hardened heart will be condemned (JOH 13:10,11). g] that one must take Jesus' yoke upon himself (MAT 11:29). i] Jesus commanded all to "come to Him" (MAT 11:28). ii] Jesus had all authority (MAT 28:18). iii] submission was required (MAT 11:29). iv] obedience would be "light" (MAT 11:30). h] that judgment was certain (MAT 7:21-23). i] that Jesus is Savior and Lord (JOH 20:28). *This outline comes from "The Gospel According to Jesus", by John F. MacArthur, Academie Books, Grand Rapids Michigan, 1988. 2) He taught them elementary truths (HEB 6:1,2). HEB 6:1,2 "Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment." a] repentance from acts that lead to death b] faith in God c] instruction about baptisms d] the laying on of hands e] the resurrection of the dead f] eternal judgment 3) He taught them whenever He was with them a] at Martha's house LUK 10:39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said. b] when Lazarus died (JOH 11:20-44). c] at Simon the Lepers' house (MAT 26:11-13; MAR 14:6-9; JOH 12:7,8). b) He Made Them Grow Out Of Love (JOH 11:5) 1) Jesus devised a learning situation (JOH 11:15). a] He knew that Lazarus would die i] He remained where He was for 2 days after He was summoned (JOH 11:6). ii] He told the disciples that Lazarus had died and that He would raise him (JOH 11:11). b] He knew that Martha, Mary, and the disciples needed to grow (JOH 11:15) i] in their understanding of His power ii] in their understanding of their safety (JOH 11:9) c] He knew many would come to know the truth about Him through this (JOH 11:45). 2) Jesus Fulfilled His Plan a] Jesus instructed Martha i] He met Martha in seclusion where He could teach her (JOH 11:20,30). ii] He expanded her faith through clarification: -- He taught: I. He promised that Lazarus would live again in a veiled way to provoke discussion: JOH 11:23 Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise again." II. He explained that He was truly the hope of resurrection in bodily form having all life in Himself JOH 11:25,26 "Jesus said to her, 'I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?'" -- She understood: JOH 11:27 "Yes, Lord," she told him, "I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world." b] He empathized with them (JOH 11:31-35). i] He was moved, literally "indignant" at the pain of their loss (JOH 11:33). ii] He wept, literally "sobbed" with them in deepest sympathy (JOH 11:35). iii] He was filled with indignation again at the tomb (JOH 11:38). c] Jesus demonstrated His power i] He went to the tomb -- the tomb was a cave cut into the rock face sealed with a heavy stone against its opening -- Lazarus had been placed in the tomb after his body had been prepared for burial: I. his body was wrapped in linen strips with spices in layers (see JOH 19:40,41). II. his head was enclosed with a "sweatcloth", a separate wrapper (see JOH 20:7) . -- Lazarus had been in the tomb 4 days (JOH 11:17,39) and putrefaction had advanced to the point where his body stank from decay (JOH 11:39; and scientists tell us his features would have been destroyed). ii] He brought Lazarus back to life -- He prayed to the Father and thanked Him in advance for answered prayer (JOH 11:41) -- He commanded Lazarus to "come out" (JOH 11:43). -- Lazarus came forth in response to his summons (JOH 11:44). d] Faith was increased (JOH 11:45). JOH 11:45 "Therefore many of the Jews who had come to visit Mary, and had seen what Jesus did, put their faith in him." C. WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM THEM? 1. When we try to use our spiritual gifts we must be certain that God is leading us and that we do it His way, not ours. 2. We must always keep a balance in our lives of service and adoration- we cannot truly serve God unless we are walking in fellowship with Him. 3. We must be careful to submit to God's will for us and not try to "order Him around" in our ignorance. 4. God's will for us is that we grow spiritually and He will bring learning opportunities into our lives to accomplish that end. III. What fruits of the Spirit do we see in them? IV. Memory Verse: 1JO 3:18 "Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth."
Added to Bible Bulletin Board's "Kathy Capoccia's Sunday School Lessons for Young Adults" by:
Bible Bulletin Board
Columbus, New Jersey, USA, 08022
Websites: www.biblebb.com and www.gospelgems.com
Online since 1986