Martha and Mary, the gospel texts

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Bread and olives with a lamb stew

Food in the Bible
What Martha cooked

Loose fitting woman's garment using natural dyes and embroidery, Middle Eastern

Bible Clothes & Houses
The clothes they wore, the house they lived in 

Father kissing his newborn baby

What were families like in ancient Israel?
How were they different?

Reconstruction of an underground tomb circa 1st century AD

Bible Women: Major Events 
Laying out the dead, burying a family member

For photographs of tombs used by early Christians, see Bible Archaeology: Tombs. See also   The burial of Jesus


 


Martha reproving Mary at Bethany, Orazio Gentileschi, detail of a larger painting

Bible study activities

  • Should women do paid work or stay at home?
  • A letter from the past
  • Tracing the last steps of Jesus
  • The dinner at Bethany
  • Famous quotations
  • Focus questions for gospel study

Bible Study Activities has step-by-step instructions for activities based on the story of Martha and Mary.


PAINTINGS OF MARY & MARTHA

Christ in the house of Martha and Mary, Rubens/Brueghel the Younger


 

 

 


The Kiss of Judas

'As far as the Jerusalemites were concerned, Jesus and his friends were a group of provincial dissidents from Galilee. Judas, on the other hand,  was from Jerusalem. So what was he doing with Jesus? And why did he object to Mary anointing the feet of Jesus?'     
See Why Did Judas Do It?

 


 

 

 


Martha & Mary in the Gospels


Martha and Mary are visited by Jesus  Luke 10:38-42

38 Now as they went on their way, he entered a village; and a woman named Martha received him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching. 

40 But Martha was distracted with much serving; and she went to him and said, "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me." 41 But the Lord answered her, "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things; 42 one thing is needful. Mary has chosen the good portion, which shall not be taken away from her."

Martha and Mary ask for Jesus' help  John 11:1-44

1 Now a certain man was ill, Laz'arus of Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 It was Mary who anointed the Lord with ointment and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Laz'arus was ill. Franciszek Zmurko, Lazarus3 So the sisters sent to him, saying, "Lord, he whom you love is ill." 4 But when Jesus heard it he said, "This illness is not unto death; it is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by means of it." 5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Laz'arus. 6 So when he heard that he was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was. 7 Then after this he said to the disciples, "Let us go into Judea again." 8 The disciples said to him, "Rabbi, the Jews were but now seeking to stone you, and are you going there again?" 9 Jesus answered, "Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any one walks in the day, he does not stumble, because he sees the light of this world. 10 But if any one walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him." 11 Thus he spoke, and then he said to them, "Our friend Laz'arus has fallen asleep, but I go to awake him out of sleep." 12 The disciples said to him, "Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover." 13 Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that he meant taking rest in sleep. 14 Then Jesus told them plainly, "Laz'arus is dead; 15 and for your sake I am glad that I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him." 16 Thomas, called the Twin, said to his fellow disciples, "Let us also go, that we may die with him." 

Head of Christ, circle of Rembrandt

17 Now when Jesus came, he found that Laz'arus had already been in the tomb four days. 18 Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off, 19 and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother. 20 When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, while Mary sat in the house. 21 Martha said to Jesus, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 And even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you." 23 Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise again." 24 Martha said to him, "I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day." 25 Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?" 27 She said to him, "Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, he who is coming into the world." 28 When she had said this, she went and called her sister Mary, saying quietly, "The Teacher is here and is calling for you." 29 And when she heard it, she rose quickly and went to him. 30 Now Jesus had not yet come to the village, but was still in the place where Martha had met him. 31 When the Jews who were with her in the house, consoling her, saw Mary rise quickly and go out, they followed her, supposing that she was going to the tomb to weep there. 32 Then Mary, when she came where Jesus was and saw him, fell at his feet, saying to him, "Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died." 

Entrance to an ancient tomb

33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled; 34 and he said, "Where have you laid him?" They said to him, "Lord, come and see." 35 Jesus wept. 36 So the Jews said, "See how he loved him!" 37 But some of them said, "Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?" 

38 Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb; it was a cave, and a stone lay upon it. 39 Jesus said, "Take away the stone." Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, "Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days." 40 Jesus said to her, "Did I not tell you that if you would believe you would see the glory of God?" 41 So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, "Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. 42 I knew that thou hearest me always, but I have said this on account of the people standing by, that they may believe that thou didst send me." 43 When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, "Laz'arus, come out." 

Mary of Bethany anoints Jesus  John 12:1-8

1 Six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Laz'arus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2 There they made him a supper; Martha served, and Laz'arus was one of those at table with him. 3 Mary took a pound of costly ointment of pure nard and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the ointment. 4 But Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples (he who was to betray him), said, 5 "Why was this ointment not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?" 6 This he said, not that he cared for the poor but because he was a thief, and as he had the money box he used to take what was put into it. 7 Jesus said, "Let her alone, let her keep it for the day of my burial. 8 The poor you always have with you, but you do not always have me."

 

Kitchen scene with Christ in the house of Martha and Mary, Diego da Silva Velazquez, 1618

 

Ancient dishes and pots unearthed in Israel

 

 

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