Bethany

If you're a chick and a Christian, you know about Mary and Martha.  They are often portrayed as opposites in fundamental ways-the spiritual one vs the fleshly one.  The gentle one vs the driven one.  I pretty sure that, like most of us, they were more than their brief story in the gospels revealed, Mary probably gossiped at the well and Martha probably mentored young Hebrew girls. No one is every all one way or the other.  That, however, isn't what this post is about.

We have read about Mary, Martha and Lazarus in the gospels, siblings whom Jesus loved.  The focus for me has always been on the individuals, these two sisters with their very different personalities, their brother who we don't know much about except after his illness and subsequent death, Jesus raised him from the dead.  For some reason though, this little family seemed to hold a special place in the heart of Jesus.  I learned something lately that shed new light on their relationship, why it may have been so special.

The last week of Jesus life, He spent time in the area surrounding the city of Jerusalem. The first few days of that week we see Him traveling from Jerusalem, where He spent the day, to Bethany, where He spent the night.  Bethany.  It was a place He spent time, among people He loved. The meaning of the name “Bethany” is “the house of the poor, the humble and the oppressed”. This is where you will always find Jesus. When you see the poor, the humble and the oppressed, you know that those are people that Jesus loved, who live in a place He is not only willing to go, but willing to stay. While He no doubt had much personal affection for Mary, Martha and Lazarus, they seem to represent the people in the village named for the type of life they lived.  He didn't just love them, He loved all those of Bethany.

We all have people in our lives that live, sometimes literally, some times spiritually and emotionally, in a place of poverty, humble position, even oppression. Maybe they are people you hear about thorough a missions ministry, or a homeless person you see on your way to work everyday, or even someone in your family or among your friends. These are the people Jesus always saw, the people He came for.  It begs the question-who were Mary, Martha and Lazarus BEFORE Jesus came?  I don't know, maybe they were always faith-filled people who lived a difficult life of poverty.  Maybe they were a radically dysfunctional family.  We do know who they were after Jesus came to where they lived.  I love what we saw earlier in Mark-

Mark 2:15-17-“Now it happened, as He was dining in Levi's house, that many tax collectors and sinners also sat together with Jesus and His disciples; for there were many, and they followed Him. 16 And when the scribes and Pharisees saw Him eating with the tax collectors and sinners, they said to His disciples, "How is it that He eats and drinks with tax collectors and sinners?"
When Jesus heard it, He said to them, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance."

If you want to walk with Jesus, you need to be willing to go where He goes-to love who He loves, to serve who He serves-this is challenging, for those of us who love our ease, our comfort zone-but this is His heart! Pray to have His heart in this-to go and spend time in Bethany, whatever that looks like in your life.

Comments

Anonymous said…
Thank you.

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