There are some places where you just feel at home.
Scripture suggests Jesus visited Bethany on a number of occasions, and I wonder if He didn’t feel quite at home among friends – Martha, Mary, and Lazarus.
There is something about their interactions and conversations that suggest the nature of the friendship they shared. Martha confronted Jesus with her frustration about doing all the work by herself. Both sisters honestly questioned why He didn’t come when they sent word to Him about Lazarus being so sick. Lazarus sat at the table with Him more than once. Martha confessed to Jesus that she believed He was the messiah.
There is honesty in their relationship with the Son of God.
During Jesus last week before the crucifixion, He was in Bethany. Matthew, Mark and John give their perspective of a story that many commentators agree is the same scene. A dinner. A woman. And a jar of expensive ointment.
Mary’s gift of her perfume and the anointing of Jesus’ head and feet is extravagant worship. It was misunderstood and criticized by those who witnessed it. But it did not deter her from giving her best.
The story compels me to search my own heart, to examine my own worship.
In this story, Martha is serving, again. It’s her gift. Let’s not be too hard on her for the other time she let her to-do-list get the best of her. I’ve been there. The fact is she was good at hospitality, and Jesus enjoyed the benefits and blessing of being in her home.
May I offer such a welcome to others.
And Lazarus? I wonder if he and Jesus shared secrets about the other world that only one who has been there and come back could understand.
God placed great value on relationship. In the garden of Eden. In the calling of Abraham. In His face-to-face conversations with Moses. In His faithful love to Israel. In the sending of His Son.
At Bethany, Jesus was among friends. They would warm Him and offer themselves and their gifts, as varied as they were.
Perhaps they helped Him face the days ahead, the days of sorrow. Perhaps they just loved Him.