Martha and The Messiah

funny-mia-and-sadie-picture1We’re on a journey toward freedom from the idols that enslave us. It’s only the second week — not too late to join in. I can’t resist using this favorite picture of my grand-daughters and imagining Martha and Mary as babies.  Last week we looked at Luke 11:38-42 when Martha was very angry with Mary but also with Jesus.  We identified her deep idols as control or approval.

MARTHA & MARY AS BABIES

We are learning how to cooperate with the Spirit in turning our heart of stone into a heart of flesh. The first step is identifying the idol, and, as many of you have seen, being willing to let God remove it. The book I’m reading now is the Beck Diet Solution, which isn’t really a diet, but a way to talk to your soul when you are tempted.  The author encourages you to be prepared with a thought: “Yes, I want that chocolate, but I want more to be thin, to be free, to feel great!” It really adds power to be prepared in your mind, whatever your idol. The battle begins in the mind.

The idol I want removed is control. When I want to control, for example, an adult child, I am saying “Yes, I do think I know what is best in this situation, but I want more not to get between this child and God, so I relinquish him to God, who loves him more than I do.”

Let’s begin with this week’s study. It is a little longer than usual, so you may want to take a couple of questions daily instead of doing it all at once. But it’s up to you.

1. How has the Lord been moving in your life since this study began?

2. Has the Lord shown you a stone that He would like to work on? What deep idol do you think it is related to? (Comfort, approval, control, power) Could you pray here that you would want to have it removed and to be responsive to the promptings of His Spirit?

3. Imagine that your idol is approval. (An idol we all probably have to a degree.) Prepare what you are going to speak to your soul when you are longing for approval or self-conscious about possible disapproval. What will you say?

4. Now take whatever idol you have identified and list at least two things you can say to your soul when you are tempted to run to your idol.

We are now going to move to the next time we meet Martha, which is in John 11. Sometimes God’s Spirit speaks softly to us, sometimes He speaks passionately, as when Jesus said, “Martha, Martha…” and still other times, He comes in like a hurricane, where control is ripped out of our hands.

Read John 11:1-6

5. The Setting

A. How does John set up the story in verse 1?

B. In verse 3, what does John describe the sisters doing? When you read between the lines of this message, what do you think they thought Jesus would do? Why?

6. The Mysterious Ways of Our Lord

A. What seems paradoxical about Jesus’ statement in verse 4? How do you think the sisters’ interpreted it?

B. Many translations use the word “So” to begin verse 6. The translation of the Word Biblical Commentary is “therefore.” This is striking, in context. Read this:

“Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. When therefore he heard that he was ill he continued to remain in the place where he was for two days.”

Since you know the end of the story (or if you don’t, read the whole chapter) why was His delay actually an act of love toward these three siblings? How might it have impacted Martha and helped to break her idol? How did it glorify God?

C. Share a time of suffering in which you actually grew closer to the Lord because of your suffering. How did this time of suffering glorify God?

Joni Eareckson Tada says, “God is not so much interested in making us healthy, or wealthy, or even happy — but making us conformed to the image of His Son.”

7. Read John 11:17-28

A. Describe the scene in verses 17-19.

B. Who is the first out, according to verse 20? How is this consistent with what you already know about Martha?

C. What does Martha say in verses 21-22?

D. CHALLENGE QUESTION: Some have interpreted verse 22 as Martha believing that Jesus will raise Lazarus immediately– but look at verse 39. What do you think she is saying in verse 22?

E. Describe the dialogue between Jesus and Martha in verses 23-27.

8. When Jesus says “I am the resurrection and the life,” He is using the term “EGO EIMI” which is saying I AM twice, the same name that God gave Moses when He said “I AM WHO I AM.”

R.C. Sproul says this is a clear claim to Deity. He is the great I AM. Whenever Jesus identifies Himself as the great I AM, his friends are in awe and his enemies want to kill him. (As you will see, at the end of this chapter, they want to do.) He is asking Martha if she believes He is the great I AM. How does she respond?

9. “Beholding,” John Piper says, “is becoming.” We are transformed when we see Jesus for who He is. When we understand this fully, when we cling to this, we can let go of our idols, for no idol can compare to the love, the the power, to the wisdom, or to the comfort of the GREAT I AM. Martha has not yet seen Jesus raise her brother from the dead, but she is willing to let go of her control and trust Him. What does she do in verse 28 that is the opposite of what she was doing in the Luke 11 passage?

10. What are some truths about Jesus that you can tell yourself to help you let go of your idol? Get them ready by listing them here.

11. Share with your accountability partner, and also with us, any change you see in your “stone.

HERE’S A HAPPY NEW YEAR VIDEO I LOVED — TO PUT YOU IN AWE OF YOUR CREATOR:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x91rBzNKvlc

COMMENTS (130) Post a New Comment ↓

So many awesome things going on with all of us!! God is doing a work!! Amen!

I am going to finish up today after my son’s basketball game this morning. It is an early one so I will see you all later today! :)

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9. “Beholding,” John Piper says, “is becoming.” We are transformed when we see Jesus for who He is. When we understand this fully, when we cling to this, we can let go of our idols, for no idol can compare to the love, the the power, to the wisdom, or to the comfort of the GREAT I AM. Martha has not yet seen Jesus raise her brother from the dead, but she is willing to let go of her control and trust Him. What does she do in verse 28 that is the opposite of what she was doing in the Luke 11 passage?

Wow, such great answers from all of you! I love reading this blog, because I like reading everyone’s different thoughts because it helps me grow!!! :) Thank you all!! :)

Reading Elizabeth’s response, the thought that came to my mind was: How Martha had changed! Before in Luke 11, she was all fretful about the “task” at hand, even aggravated with her sister because she wasn’t doing what SHE thought was important. But here you see a much gentler Martha. I don’t know if Mary had a comfort issue by not coming to Jesus, perhaps what she had was a crisis in her faith, perhaps she didn’t understand why Jesus didn’t come earlier. And I love what Martha does here, she goes to her sister and perhaps reminds her of that special relationship Mary had with Jesus. Martha turns into an encourager! Also, what I see in Martha here, is care for her sister. By being with Jesus, Martha was becoming like him!

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    So good to have you with us, Mary.

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9. “Beholding”, says John Piper, “is becoming”. We are transformed when we see Jesus for who He is. When we understand this fully, when we cling to this, we can let go of our idols, for no idol can compare to the love, to the power, to the wisdom, or to the comfort of the GREAT I AM.
Martha has not yet seen Jesus raise her brother from the dead, but she is willing to let go of her control and trust Him. What does she do in verse 28 that is the opposite of what she was doing in the Luke 11 passage?

She went back and got her sister Mary, and told her to go to Jesus, that Jesus was asking for her.

I think that after Martha beheld Jesus, and saw Him for who He really was, God, that her idols slipped away, and she knew Jesus was meant to be shared. In the Gospels, people who encountered Jesus often couldn’t wait to go tell others about Him (the Samaritan woman at the well…”Come and see a man who knows all about me!”, or ” the first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, ‘We have found the Messiah…’) Before she had been jealous of Mary sitting at Jesus’ feet, now she wanted Mary to be with Him, too.

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10. What are some truths about Jesus that you can tell yourself to help you let go of your idol?

I like what Tammy posted about Jesus wanting to hear about her struggles. I can tell myself that Jesus wants me to come to Him with the day to day, even moment by moment and hour by hour struggles I have, though many of them may be “internal”, as in bad attitudes, negative thinking, discontent, loneliness, hurt feelings, a desire to control, to be selfish, to have comfort, to escape mentally.

I would like to draw on this lesson and imagine myself in the place of Martha, with Jesus asking me if I believe He is I AM WHO I AM. If I answer yes, then what problem can I have that I could not give over to Him? What selfish idol could I not lay down before Him? What could I choose instead to comfort myself with that is better than the living Jesus who is real?

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    Love this line:

    I think that after Martha beheld Jesus, and saw Him for who He really was, God, that her idols slipped away

9. * The difference is that Martha is pointing Mary to Jesus rather than pointing Mary to herself. This shows a true transformation for her.

10. Before I can tell myself the truth I had to realize the truth about what was going on in my heart..Then I had to tell myself the truth about my idol..My idol lies to me and tries to deceive me into running to it, and tries to take my eyes off of Jesus.

* I am going to walk boldy before Him..Walk in the confidence of Him..He has the power to crush any idol and to melt stones..I can’t take this idol off it’s throne. I can choose to ignore the tapping on my shoulder of the idol and obey the prompting of the Holy Spirit..Fix my eyes on Jesus..

*I am going to put my confidence in what Jesus says rather than what my idol says to me by memorizing scripture again..

2 Cor 12:9- And He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.” Most gladly, therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.

11. Share with your accountability partner, and also with us, any change you see in your “stone.

* There have been a lot of changes here and there in my responses to singing and setting a date to sing..Also in other areas where this idol rears his ugly head, and really it is ignoring the temptation to run to my idol but instead running to Jesus.. It does start in my mind..The battle of the spirit and the flesh in my thinking about ‘who’ is the true comforter, and ‘who’ I can walk in confidence before..I ‘know’ and believe that Jesus is the true comforter, and I can ‘go’ in confidence, but walking in it and knowing it are two different things..

I do see changes in my stone, but it is a process and I look forward to the rest of this study!!!

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    Oh Rebecca, you are so right that our idols lie to us and deceive us into running to them! Then we take our eyes off Jesus.
    My idol of approval and power lies to me that my mother-in-law is somehow my enemy, and stealing away affection from me. Then I stew and brood about it and think unkind thoughts about her, feeding jealousy.
    Yes, the battle definitely begins in the mind! And I am learning along with you the truth about what is going on in my heart….

    And Jesus said “And you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free!”

    I’m so glad we are on our way to freedom!!!!

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    My daughter-in-law has been telling me how God has gifted you, and I see it here, so it is the White Witch who has given you this stone. I do see Aslan breathing on you!

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      So encouraging!

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11. Share with us any change you see in your “stone”.

Well, this was not a “stone” I originally picked to actively work on, but it is a stone in my heart that I want removed. It is the stone of jealousy, in particular, I have been jealous of…ouch…my mother-in-law. I have, for various reasons, always felt like I am in competition with her.

Yesterday I spoke with my good friend on the phone and re counted the most recent “slights” I felt… at the heart of it all was jealousy and my desire for power and control. As I talked, my grievances seemed to me more and more insignificant and petty. Perhaps when Martha looked back at the time Jesus came to her house, her actions seemed now rather petty and silly.
I believe my stone of jealousy has the roots of approval, power, and control because I want to be “first” in the hearts of my husband and children.
This lesson is transforming me in that I see that as I behold Jesus, and deepen my relationship with Him, I don’t have to fight to be “first”. Martha was changed, and she became gracious and loving to her sister Mary. I’ve got a long way to go, but the stone is beginning to move a little!

Also, I got busy this week as to the stone of my thought-life; that I want my mind transformed so that I put more edifying thoughts in my mind, have a sound mind and a disciplined mind, and replacing ungodly thoughts with godly ones. I came up with my list of 5 reasons why I want a sound, disciplined mind controlled by the Spirit.
Then I worked on a list of specific ways to discipline my mind and thought life, which includes writing out verses that speak about the mind/thoughts and memorizing them.

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    Susan, I admire you so much for your honesty, I am praying for you.

Ladies, here is a song I found this morning..Encouraged me…Sure you all have heard it before..

IN CHRIST ALONE
In Christ alone my hope is found,
He is my light, my strength, my song;
this Cornerstone, this solid Ground,
firm through the fiercest drought and storm.
What heights of love, what depths of peace,
when fears are stilled, when strivings cease!
My Comforter, my All in All,
here in the love of Christ I stand.

In Christ alone! who took on flesh
Fulness of God in helpless babe!
This gift of love and righteousness
Scorned by the ones he came to save:
Till on that cross as Jesus died,
The wrath of God was satisfied –
For every sin on Him was laid;
Here in the death of Christ I live.

There in the ground His body lay
Light of the world by darkness slain:
Then bursting forth in glorious Day
Up from the grave he rose again!
And as He stands in victory
Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me,
For I am His and He is mine –
Bought with the precious blood of Christ.

No guilt in life, no fear in death,
This is the power of Christ in me;
From life’s first cry to final breath.
Jesus commands my destiny.
No power of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;
Till He returns or calls me home,
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand.

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    Amen — Amen.

    Reply

    An excellent time to remember this truth! Thanks Rebecca.

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