Purposeful Friendships

Key Verse: “Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”
—Luke 10:41, 42

Selected Scriptures:
Luke 10:38-42;
John 11:20-27, 30-32

THREE SPECIAL FRIENDS of Jesus during his earthly ministry were Martha, her sister Mary, and their brother Lazarus. This lesson focuses particularly on Jesus’ experiences with Martha and Mary. His initial encounter with them is recorded in Luke chapter 10, where it states that as Jesus traveled, he entered a village and was invited by Martha to their home. Martha, being a hospitable hostess, became busy preparing the meal for their guest while her sister Mary sat at the feet of Jesus and listened to his teachings. As this continued, Martha became irritated with her sister and said to Jesus, “Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me.”—Luke 10:40

Jesus’ response to Martha is contained in the Key Verses, and indicates that her work of serving to his temporal needs was commendable, but Mary’s desire to hear the Word of God was of a higher motivation, and more important for the spiritual needs of the mind and heart. Her friendship with Jesus was of a higher purpose and tended toward spiritual growth. It is a lesson which shows us that our friendships with others in the body of Christ should be primarily along spiritual lines, with temporal and earthly conversations taking a much less important role. Jesus prayed to his Father, “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.” (John 17:17) One of the important ways we become sanctified by the Truth is to spend time dwelling upon it in conversation and fellowship with our friends in the school of Christ.

We later come upon another experience between Jesus and these two sisters as the result of the death of their brother Lazarus. This moving account is recorded in John chapter 11. Jesus had returned to Bethany to visit and console his beloved friends. Before he came to their house, Martha went out to meet him and said, “Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.” (John 11:21) This was not a complaint on Martha’s part, but merely a statement of fact. Indeed, Jesus was not there when Lazarus died, but, if he had been, Martha had faith that he would have healed her brother from his sickness. We note that Martha’s faith and perception of spiritual things had grown significantly since her earlier encounter with Jesus, when she was busying herself with temporal duties. Now her focus was on higher things, even in the midst of the great tragedy of the loss of her brother.

We see the faith in spiritual things in the exchange of words between Martha and Jesus, “I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee. Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again. Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this? She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world.” (vss. 22-27) Truly, Martha had listened to the teachings of Jesus and had a spiritually purposeful friendship with the beloved Master, Jesus.

Dawn Bible Students Association
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