Feast Day: July 29
Life dates: First Century
Introduction: When Scripture introduces us to Jesus’ friends, Martha and Mary, we learn he had friendships outside of the twelve apostles. In this well-known story, it is easier to identity with Martha than with Mary. In fact it can have us feeling sorry for Martha and wishing Mary would get up and help! But with this brief domestic scene, Jesus gives us invaluable advice: listening to him is the most important thing we can do.
The message is the same for the children. It is never too early to feel Jesus’ friendship, nor to understand that he is God.
Story: Martha was getting dinner ready. She and her sister, Mary, and their brother, Lazarus, lived in a house in Bethany. They were good friends of Jesus. He was visiting them now, and Martha had welcomed him. As Martha cooked, her sister sat by Jesus, listening to him.
After a while, Martha got tired of doing all the work. “Lord,” she said. “Don’t you care that my sister has left me to do all the work?”
Jesus said, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. Mary has chosen what is really important.”
We don’t know how Martha felt then or if Mary washed the dishes later. But later we see that Martha understood that Jesus is God. She must have been listening and watching sometimes!
It was a very sad event that brought Jesus to their house another time. Lazarus, their brother, had become very sick and died.
Many of their friends came to the sisters, to cry with them, and help them. When Martha heard that Jesus was on his way, she slipped out of the house to meet him.
“Lord,” she said. “If you had been here, Lazarus would not have died. But even now, I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you. I believe you are the Messiah, the Son of God.”
A little while later, Martha stood with her sister and their many friends by the tomb of Lazarus. He had died four days before. Jesus called, Lazarus, come out!” And the man who had been dead came alive and came out of the tomb!
All those with Martha and Mary saw this and were amazed. Now they too would believe that Jesus is God. But Martha already knew.
For ideas on how to celebrate Martha and other saints, see https://anneneuberger.com/product/a-circle-of-saints-stories-and-activities-for-children/