Mary and Martha – Session Four
Mary and Martha – Session Four
In this final session adapted from the book, Forty Women, we look at Mary and Martha and the themes of suffering, hope and comfort.

Jesus’ treatment of women was revolutionary. He welcomed and commended women others overlooked and scorned. Bleeding women. Poor women. Physically disabled women. Notoriously sinful women. Single women. Older women. Foreign women. Prostitutes. Jesus saw and loved women as beings made in the image of God.

In the book, Forty Women, Ros Clarke helps us to see the women of the Bible with fresh eyes. She walks us through a full spectrum of stories and invites us to full-orbed vision of each woman she presents.

This series looks at four such women and in this session Mary and Martha.

Bible Reading – John 11: 17-37

17 On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb for four days. 18 Now Bethany was less than two miles[a] from Jerusalem, 19 and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brother. 20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home.

21 “Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”

23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”

24 Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”

25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?”

27 “Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”

28 After she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside. “The Teacher is here,” she said, “and is asking for you.” 29 When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet entered the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. 31 When the Jews who had been with Mary in the house, comforting her, noticed how quickly she got up and went out, they followed her, supposing she was going to the tomb to mourn there.

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.”

33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. 34 “Where have you laid him?” he asked.

“Come and see, Lord,” they replied.

35 Jesus wept.

36 Then 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?”

Study Notes

Mary and Martha were the sisters Lazarus, the man Jesus raised from the dead. The three siblings were also close friends of Jesus Christ. They were not part of the 12 disciples but were family to Jesus and loved Him. They lived in a town called Bethany, about two miles from Jerusalem.

They stand against the idea that men and women cannot be friends. They were such good friends with Jesus that they knew when their brother had died, they had to get to him. He could help them. He could save them! When Jesus did not arrive in a timely fashion they did not get angry with Jesus, they didn’t blame him or shut him out in their grief. Even though Jesus knew He would raise Lazarus from his death He was still upset and wept when he died. This is because Jesus was fully man and death is a sorrowful experience.

Although Mary and Martha have vast differences in personalities and emotional reactions to the situation they find themselves in they know that Jesus is the answer and is their source of comfort.

For Reflection


Lord Jesus,
we turn to you in our suffering,
knowing that you too have suffered grief and loss,
rejection and death.
We turn to you in our tears,
knowing that you are the source of all true comfort,
all hope and reconciliation.
We turn to you in faith,
knowing that you can move mountains,
heal the sick, raise the dead and redeem the sinner.
Lord Jesus, there is no one else to whom we can turn,
for you have the words of eternal life.
We turn to you.