The Confident Life of a Disciple: Believing and Belonging—Part Six

The Confident Life of a Disciple: Believing and Belonging—Part Six

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Listen Now. We will now be including the daily reading of Epistle and Gospel with The Prayer Team.

ENGAGED: The Call to Be Disciples

Go, therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.  Matthew 28:19-20

The Story of Martha, Part Two

And many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother.  When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met Him, while Mary sat in the house.  Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.  And even now I know that whatever You ask from God, God will give You.”  Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”  Martha said to Him, “I know that He will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”  Jesus said to her, “I am the Resurrection and the life, he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die.  Do you believe this?”  She said to Him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, He who is coming into the world.”  John 11: 19-27

Good morning Prayer Team!

There are two stories in the New Testament where Martha plays a significant role.  In the previous reflection, we discussed the day Jesus visited Martha and Mary’s home and how Martha was too busy to sit down and talk with Him.  In the second story, the subject of today’s reflection, Jesus again visits their home.  This occasion is a sad one.  Lazarus, the brother of Mary and Martha, has died.  Mary, Martha and Lazarus were friends of Jesus.  He often visited their home.  It was a place He went to relax and recharge.  So, it was no surprise when He came to pay His condolences to them.  He even visited the tomb of Lazarus and upon arriving there, Jesus wept, because Lazarus was a friend and his death made Jesus sad.  It also showed the true humanity of Jesus, who had the very human emotion of grief and sadness.  Of course, Jesus knew when Lazarus was sick that He would allow Lazarus to die to set the stage for the miracle of bringing Lazarus back to life, something that would be a sign to all that He was the Messiah.  It would also set the stage for His voluntary Passion, Crucifixion, and subsequent Resurrection.

In an interesting role reversal, when Jesus came near the home of Mary and Martha, it was Martha who ran out to meet Him.  Mary was the one who remained behind, anxious and troubled by her brother’s death.  Martha ran out to meet Jesus.  Unlike the last encounter with Mary and Martha, where presumably it was just them and maybe a couple of other people in their house, so that their time together was private, this encounter with Jesus was very public.  Mary and Martha were much beloved in their community.  It was also just before Passover, so thousands of pilgrims were making their way to Jerusalem.  Jewish authorities from all over the country were there. 

Martha greets Jesus with the words: “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.  And even now I know that whatever You ask from God, God will give You.” (John 11: 21-22)  In a very public encounter, Martha addresses Jesus as “Lord,” and says that Jesus could have changed the outcome of her brother’s illness.  Indeed these would have been very risky things to say in the presence of hostile Jewish authorities.  But Martha was even bolder.  Jesus said to her “I am the Resurrection and the life, he who believe in Me, though he die, yet shall he live, and whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (11:25-26)  This is where Martha makes the boldest confession of faith made up to this point in the Scriptures.  She says “Yes, Lord; I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, He who is coming into the world.”(11:27) What a bold and amazing statement!  What a great risk to make such a statement in front of an audience of people that was hostile (and would later become bloodthirsty). 

Indeed Martha had a change of heart.  She understood what the needful thing was. 

In this unit on the confident life or a disciple, we are discussing Martha because she represents all of us.  We are all busy.  We are all anxious and troubled about many things.  We all forget the needful thing.  And that’s okay.  When it really counted, Martha stood up to be counted as a follower of Christ.  And while we tend to still remember the busy Martha of the last reflection (probably because we read the story more often), it is the faithful and courageous Martha that we should remember even more.  In our busy lives, there will be moments when we will have to stand up “when it counts.”  And I pray that we will each have the courage to do that.  Because that is the most needful thing—A Christ-centered life that puts Him at the head. 

Yesterday, we reflected on how we relate to the busyness of Martha.  Today, reflect on this questions:  Can you relate to Martha’s change of heart and deeper understanding of Who Christ is?  And what stands in the way of such a change in your heart?

Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name!  Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits, Who forgives all your iniquity, Who heals all your diseases, Who redeems your life from the Pit, Who crowns you with steadfast love and mercy, Who satisfies your with good as long as you live, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.  The Lord works vindication and justice for all who are oppressed.  He made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the people of Israel.  The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.  He will not always chide, nor will He keep His anger forever.  He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor requite us according to our iniquities.  For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His steadfast love toward those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does He remove our transgressions from us.  As a father pities His children, so the Lord pities those who fear Him.  For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.  As for man, his days are like grass; he flourishes like a flower of the field; for the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place knows it no more.  But the steadfast love of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting upon those who fear Him, and His righteousness to children’s children, to those who keep His covenant and remember to do His commandments.  The Lord has established His throne in the heavens, and His kingdom rules over all.  Bless the Lord, O you His angels, you mighty ones who do His word, hearkening to the voice of His word!  Bless the Lord, all His hosts, His ministers that do his will!  Bless the Lord, all His works, in all places of His dominion.  Bless the Lord, O my Soul!  Psalm 103 

Martha’s story can be ours as well.  We are all busy, no question. However, let us always remember the needful thing!

 

+Fr. Stavros

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Fr. Stavros Akrotirianakis

Fr. Stavros N. Akrotirianakis is the Proistamenos of St. John Greek Orthodox Church in Tampa, FL. Fr. contributes the Prayer Team Ministry, a daily reflection, which began in February 2015, has produced two books, “Let All Creation Rejoice: Reflections on Advent, the Nativity and Epiphany” and “The Road Back to Christ: Reflections on Lent, Holy Week and the Resurrection.”