Confession: I admire Martha.
Yes, the same Martha who was “distracted with much serving.” (Luke 10:40) The one Jesus gently rebuked for being troubled about unnecessary things. The woman who, in her bitterness, missed out on “the good portion” of sitting at the feet of Jesus. (Luke 10:42)
You know the one – Mary’s uptight sister about whom countless books have been written and sermons have been preached urging female audiences everywhere: Don’t be like Martha!
In spite of her bad rap, I truly admire her. Here’s why:
“When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary remained seated in the house.” (John 11:20)
Going to Meet Christ
By this time in Martha’s life, she wasn’t as worried about offering perfect hospitality to Jesus and had even become one of His good friends, as had her sister Mary and their now-deceased brother, Lazarus.
Martha went and met Him on the road to her house to express her disappointment that Jesus had not come sooner - “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died” - and to see if He could work a miracle on their behalf - “I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” (John 11: 21-22)
When Jesus reassures Martha that Lazarus will rise again, Martha affirms this with her sound, but limited understanding regarding the resurrection: “I know he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” (John 11:24)
As a Jew, she believed there would be some sort of eternal life after death on the earth. Her Scriptures taught her as much. But Martha was missing something – something big. She rightly believed that the resurrection was a future event, but she did not realize that it was so much more than that. So Jesus, in one of His most profound utterances, and with one of His most powerful truths, lets her – a woman – in on an extremely important theological reality:
“I am the resurrection and the life.” (John 11:25)
As a Christian, this is a mind-boggling revelation to me. As a woman, it is a precious scene that affirms my own longing to pursue further knowledge of Christ and His Word. Like Martha, I possess a desire to go out and meet Him, gaining understanding as I do. Seeing how Jesus responds to Martha disclosing such incredible realities to her is beautiful to me and only kindles the yearning.
Knowing Christ and Gaining Understanding
Over the last five years, I’ve had the opportunity to pursue an online Master’s degree at Southeastern Theological Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, NC. Taking graduate level courses in Old and New Testament, Ethics, Systematic Theology, Church History and more has satisfied a longing to know more about God and His Word while challenging me to properly apply the knowledge for my own sake and the benefit of others. I think Martha would have enjoyed seminary.
A recurring thought in the course of getting this degree has been “Every woman should do this!” The things I’ve learned and the skills I’ve gained have deepened my love for God and helped me to explain Him to others. My homework often brings me to my knees in worship.
Knowing that the time, energy and money required for an advanced degree prevents many women from taking that route, I wanted to tell you about another opportunity that Southeastern Seminary provides for women. It’s called the Biblical Women’s Institute.
Biblical Women’s Institute
This certificate program offers online courses taught by actual seminary professors and knowledgeable, godly women. The courses are only $25 and are open to all women everywhere. Classes include topics like Old Testament I and II, New Testament I and II, Knowing God (Theology) I and II, Church Life I and II, Women and Evangelism, Biblical Theology of Womanhood, and Christian Doctrine.
If you are a woman longing to know Christ more intimately and be better equipped to teach and serve the women in your church, I heartily recommend the Biblical Women’s Institute.
Why not recruit a fellow Martha and take an online course together? I can guarantee the expansion of your biblical knowledge as well as the encouragement of your heart, not to mention fulfillment of the command to love the Lord with your mind.
Melanie Krumrey is a pastor’s wife, serves as the women’s ministry leader at MERCYhouse church in Amherst, MA, and blogs at www.dwellabideadorn.com.