The Story of Martha

Bethany is a small village situated on the southeast side of the Mount of Olives, less than two miles from Jerusalem on the road from Jericho to Jerusalem. No mention is made of this village in the canonical books or in the Apocrypha of the Old Testament. Bethany makes its appearance for the first time, as does the fourth Star Point, in the New Testament. The more recent writer's of biblical history speak of it as a miserable, untidy and tumble-down village. Actual or impending decay would seem to be written upon its dwellings. Yet, we are filled with reverential awe as we recall the immortal memories of what occurred within and around this little village.

There is very little authentic information about the early history of Martha, Mary and Lazarus. It would seem that they were an orphan family. Their home is said to have been a very beautiful and wealthy home, with even luxuries. Martha was the housekeeper. She looked after the food, comforts of the family, and the guests. The central figure of the whole story, however, is Jesus, with Martha and Mary standing in the foreground of the life of Jesus. Time and time again we find the Master, amidst the tumults, storm, applause's and successes of public life, taking refuge in some secluded or quiet spot, literally yearning for the privacy and the atmosphere of domestic life and home love.
It is not known when Jesus began to make their home, his home when in Bethany. Christ on leaving his earthly father's home in Nazareth became a wanderer. He never had a home of his own on earth. One of the most striking and pathetic utterances He ever made regarding himself was in reference to his having no home, "the foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man hath not where to lay his head." His loneliness is manifest by his frequent communion with the Father.

The home at Bethany was to Him a home of quiet and rest, where a most cordial and loving welcome was extended with sincere affection. What a beautiful friendship sprang up between Jesus and every member of the Bethany family! The home was one of friendly peace that was not tainted with interested ambition.

Martha is the patron saint of all good housewives, careful mothers, and skilful and efficient nurses of the present generation. Her character makes a strong appeal to energetic women and especially to comfort-loving men. Dr. Rob Morris in The Rosary of the Eastern Star, written in 1865, sets forth the Christian application of the fourth point of the emblematic star in the following words:

"The tender and affectionate Martha, equally devoted to her Divine Friend, whether as the grateful guest of the life-giving God, whether she was "Cumbered with such serving" for his entertainment, or kneeling before him in the abandonment of sorrow or walking with him weeping, to the sepulcher of her brother, is best represented under the guise of the meek and uncomplaining Lamb. "God has provided" her "a Lamb" for our delighted study. She is a Lamb "without blemish" in her display of womanly, social and Christian virtues, and she is one those who are described in the latter books of Divine law as being "made white in the blood of the Lamb," and "written in the Lamb's book of life."


Low in the dust she knelt;
Low at the Saviour's feet;
With weeping eyes and hands upraised
Up to the Mercy-seat;

The friendless one was sad--
Complainingly she sighed --
Oh hadst Thou come while yet he lived,
My brother had not died.

The Saviour's gentle smile
New hope in Martha woke:
Thy brother , he shall rise again,
The gracious Saviour spoke: --

The living shall not die
If in me they believe;
And though they in the dust may lie,
The very dead shall live.

Into the Master's face
Thy sister meekly gazed;
There is no fear in love, there is
No doubt where faith is placed;

Thou art, Thou art the Christ --
In thee the dead shall live --
Whatever thou shall ask of God,
I know that God will give.

Before an open tomb
A joyful group is seen;
The grave has yielded up its dead,
And Martha's faith is green.

No longer tears are thine
Sweet sister, soul of faith!
Thy love for Christ has full reward.
Thy brother's won from death.

-- Rob Morris

"Faith Unshaken"
Glowing high above this world
Is hope, eternal and true;
Lifting each soul is Martha's faith,
Handed down to me, and to you.
Softly above the storms of the world
His low, sweet voice is heard,
Bidding us read, and remember
The promises in His Word.
And the question He asked Martha
Will be ours to answer, too;
But her faith, unshaken, steady,
Is enough for me, and you!