A Special Family
Martha, Mary, and Lazarus. These three people were very special to Jesus. They had a bond. They were very close to each other. They were sisters and brothers, and they lived in Bethany. Jesus often went to their house. After Jesus said, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” After saying that, he went to Bethany and he went to their house. Jesus didn’t spend much time with his own family. When you read the scripture, you don’t see many stories about Jesus staying with his brothers or his family. But he stayed with this family quite a lot. They were like another family to Jesus. He raised the brother, Lazarus, and Mary poured her perfume and anointed Jesus’ feet.
So they had a lot of our stories and a lot of history with each other. A very special family to Jesus. And Martha was especially very good to Jesus. Look at today’s scripture. It was Martha who invited Jesus to her house. Now as they went on their way, he entered a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him to her home. So Martha was very good to Jesus. I don’t think she just invited Jesus alone. This is right after Jesus sent 70 disciples to go out and do the mission and they just came back with excitement. This story was after this, so I’m not sure whether all 70 people were there or not, but at least 12 disciples were there. So it was not just Jesus alone in that house, but a whole bunch of people that Martha invited.
A Call To Serve
Martha was very busy hosting them and Jesus appreciated very much the hospitality that Martha showed, but also at the same time, Jesus understood Martha’s frustration. Martha was very frustrated and it is very understandable that you would be so frustrated because there were so many people that Martha had to host. She had to cook for them and everything while Mary, her sister, was just sitting there doing nothing but talking with Jesus. And Martha was thinking, “I want to talk to Jesus too, but you are not helping me.” So Martha was very stressed out. I don’t think Martha was jealous, but she was just frustrated and stressed out.
And Martha was frustrated not only with Mary, but I think she was frustrated with Jesus, too. You can tell by the tone of her voice. See, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has led me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me out.” It’s kind of a frustrating tone, isn’t it? Martha, I think, was very stressed out so she was frustrated. Frustrated with everyone, Mary and Jesus and the others. And what Jesus said to Martha was not to criticize her. Jesus knew Martha very well. We can see that from the way Jesus called Martha, but the Lord answered her. “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things.” Jesus called Martha twice. That is a very affectionate tone. “Martha, Martha.” It is a tone of affection for Martha.
Jesus didn’t criticize Martha, but what he said to her is very important to all of us who are called to serve. Jesus gives us a very good insight about what service is all about. We are called to serve others. That’s our existence. We don’t live just for ourselves. God called and Jesus called us to go out to the world and serve others, whether that’s your family, friends, or people in need, strangers. Jesus called us to go out and live a life of service. So life of service is a beautiful life and Jesus appreciates that. And Jesus evaluates that kind of life very highly. There are people who live their lives serving their own needs, but there are also people living their life, serving other people’s needs. Which of the people are you? Jesus appreciates and values the lives of the people who serve others, not serve their own needs. This is what Jesus said, “Whoever gives even a cup of cold water to one of these little ones in the name of a disciple. Truly I tell you, none of these will lose their reward.” Jesus recognized the importance of serving others.
We Get Tired
But, it is not easy to serve. It is not easy to serve. As we serve others, sometimes we get disappointed. We get hurt. We get tired, too, and sometimes we get very frustrated. Like Martha. Sometimes when you live a life of service, you already have so many things to take care of just for yourself and for your family. And although you want to serve others, sometimes it’s too much for us to handle. “Oh my goodness, what can I do?” Sometimes we feel overwhelmed. That is when we lose the joy of serving and we complain and we blame others. There are a lot of things that we need to do. Modern life in one word? Busy. That’s what modern life is. We are all busy. Don’t tell me that you are busy because everybody is busy. That’s a characteristic of modern life and then, in addition to being busy, you want to serve others. That’s a challenge. Lot of things to do. No time.
We have to take care of our parents who are aging. A lot of you are the sandwich generation. You have younger children still to take care of and you have older, aging parents and you have to take care of them from in between. You’re just running around everywhere. You are driving around everywhere and sometimes you feel like you’re a driver, not a housewife or house husband but you are just driver. You are driving everywhere. Lot of things to do. Sometimes we feel that we are hard-pressed from every side. When there is no end for what we do and when we don’t see any fruitful results, when it is too much and the burden is too heavy, when we cannot see our future, we get tired.
We just worry about it, but don’t seem to have any energy left to do anything about it. We have to serve out of love. That’s what service is. You serve out of love, but love is getting cold. We lose the joy of serving and we don’t have strength to go on. That was what Martha experienced in today’s scripture. I don’t think we can judge Martha by just one incident. What Martha experienced, we all experience. We also get stressed out like Martha. That’s why Jesus said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things.”
When you see these symptoms in you, when you have a lot of complaints when you have this frustration building up within you, when you start blaming others around you, when you see these symptoms, we should be able to know where we are in terms of our spirituality.
Just because these things happen within you, that doesn’t mean that you don’t have faith. That doesn’t mean that you don’t love the Lord. You have tremendous faith and you have tremendous love for the Lord, but sometimes we all experience physical, emotional, and spiritual exhaustion. This is when we need rest. This is when we need to have time with Jesus alone. We need quiet time. We need to replenish ourselves.
Time To Receive God’s Love
Some members sent me replies to my Inner Voice and they say, “These days, Reverend Kim, I’m so busy. I’m so scattered. Without your Inner Voice, I don’t know how I could survive every day. Every morning I read it and that gives me the energy, that gives me the strength to go on, to move on. We have to come to Jesus and leave everything in Jesus hands once in a while. And hear this voice, “Come to me, all you that are weary and are carrying heavy burdens and I will give you rest. I will give you rest.”
This is not when you need to give love. This is when you need to receive love. We have to love ourselves first. If you don’t love yourself, who’s gonna love you? If you are not going to be gentle to yourself, who is going to be gentle to you? We have to experience that God loves us. We can serve others when we have love within us and we need to be nurtured with love. Serving is not just an action, but the action of love. We need to empower each other. We need to encourage each other. Before we make a judgment, we need to embrace each other with love. We have to understand that receiving love for ourselves is also part of serving. When you serve, you have to learn how to receive service from others.
When we face challenges of life, we can become very sensitive like Martha. Martha complained about Mary not because she hated Mary, but because Martha was very sensitive because of the challenges she faced. That’s when we need to receive Jesus, laugh and restore that love within us. Martha ultimately took Mary and Lazarus to France. They ran away because the persecution was too much, so they went to France and she did wonderful ministry in France and she finished her life there.
Once in a while you get tired and exhausted, but don’t be disappointed. Don’t be discouraged. We all do, but receive God’s love, stand up again and live out the life of serving others. That’s what we are called to do. That’s what good life is.