There was a dinner party in Bethany.
It was like the meal after a funeral, I suppose, full of stories about the person who had died. The family was around, friends of the family were there. Unlike every funeral meal I’ve been part of, however, in this case the person who had died was listening to the stories. And the guest of honor wasn’t the formerly dead person.
I’m guessing people asked Lazarus what it had been like to be dead. I’m guessing they looked at Jesus out of the corner of their eyes as Lazarus talked. No one exactly wanted to ask him how the healing happened. I mean, you don’t come out and say, “whoa, how’d you do that?” If he was the son of God, you’d be kind of scared. If he wasn’t the son of God, you’d be kind of scared, too.
So everyone at the party would have been excited and curious and awestruck and nervous. People wouldn’t quite know what to do.
Except for three people.
Lazarus was at the table, sitting with Jesus. Martha was serving. And Mary was by Jesus’ feet.
That sounds like another story, over in Luke.
These three people were doing similar things. Lazarus was at the table, Martha was getting food ready, Mary was by Jesus’ feet. And Martha was ticked.
“Lord, tell Mary to help!” she said.
“Martha, relax. Mary has chosen the better thing.”
Too often, people have taught that we are all supposed to stop rushing around and sit at Jesus’ feet. And we have felt guilty because we are not being devoted to Jesus the same way really spiritual people are. But the dinner party story says we got the lesson wrong. Cooking isn’t unspiritual. As long as Jesus is the guest of honor.
For more on the differences between Mary and Martha, see “The Personal Touch.”