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Very Different Genetics: Mary and Martha Revisited

The other day I read the story of “Jesus Raising Lazarus” (from the dead) for approximately the 613th time. For some reason a new phrase stuck out to me, one that has very little to do with the point of the story.


Jesus heard that his friend Lazarus was sick, so he made his way from Jerusalem to Bethany, the town where Lazarus and his sisters Mary and Martha lived. The sisters heard that Jesus was on his way, or at least Martha did, making us believe that Mary had heard this too. The verse that caught my interest says this.


John 11:20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home.”


Hmmm...Martha excitedly ran to meet Jesus, but Mary stayed home. Could this say something about their personalities? Was Martha an eager beaver? A motivated, high strung person who would rather run to meet Jesus than wait for him?


And was Mary a laid back individual? One that had lots of patience and would rather relax and wait than expend energy walking or running to meet someone?


After thinking about this for a minute, I remembered another story about these sisters. After looking through the Bible, I found the story in Luke 10. Mary and Martha had opened their home to Jesus, so he entered the home to talk with them. Martha was buzzing around concerned with preparation for her present company, but Mary just sat and listened to Jesus talk. This irritated Martha, so she asked Jesus to make Mary help her. But Jesus said that Mary had wisely chosen to listen.


Hmmm...Martha buzzing around trying to accomplish, Mary sitting. This story seems to confirm my speculations about the sisters’ personalities. Now Martha has both run to meet Jesus before he arrives at her house, and buzzed around trying to take care of her company. And Mary has both sat and waited for Jesus to arrive, and sat and listened to him talk.


It seems safe to assume that these ladies received opposite family genes. Therefore they probably complimented each other well. Maybe they lived together, getting along splendidly for the most part, but irritating each other in little ways.


I am guessing Martha was the older of the two, the one that was more responsible from a human viewpoint, and probably more anxious. Mary came along and rode on her sister’s coat tails, just observing and soaking life in.


It feels good to learn (and speculate) a little more about these Biblical characters who lived so long ago, whose stories we have heard many, many times over. I have heard the familiar stories so often that sometimes the point of the story is too obvious to me. I therefore move on to pick out the less obvious points.


The next question in my mind: Where did brother Lazarus fit into these opposite sisters’ lives? Was he a combination of the ladies or did he possess yet another component of the family’s genetics? Did he get caught in between them or was he invited to over compliment them?


Fun to think about, but we will never know until we see them in glory. And maybe not even then.


Written by - Jodi Vande Noord

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