Serving ≠ Saving

Chances are, you've been there.
You screwed up.
And find yourself trying to make it right.
To get back into good graces.
To earn your way back.

I think that's how this girl Martha felt (John 11-12:8).

On one hand, I can't really blame her. Her brother just died. She knew who Jesus was and that He could have prevented it if he had chosen to. She's probably confused, hurt, and upset. She understandably questions why Jesus didn't act differently.
But what I find interesting here is Jesus' response to Martha and Martha's response in return...

 John 11:40-44 (The Message)
Jesus looked her [Martha] in the eye. “Didn’t I tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?”
Then, to the others, “Go ahead, take away the stone.”
They removed the stone. Jesus raised his eyes to heaven and prayed, “Father, I’m grateful that you have listened to me. I know you always do listen, but on account of this crowd standing here I’ve spoken so that they might believe that you sent me.”
Then he shouted, “Lazarus, come out!” And he came out, a cadaver, wrapped from head to toe, and with a kerchief over his face.
Jesus told them, “Unwrap him and let him loose.”

I would imagine in that moment, Martha felt a little embarrassed...foolish...disappointed in herself...
as if she had let Jesus down.
That feeling of, "Oh man, how could I have even doubted..."
Then we read in the next chapter:

John 12:1-7 (The Message)
Six days before Passover, Jesus entered Bethany where Lazarus, so recently raised from the dead, was living. Lazarus and his sisters invited Jesus to dinner at their home. Martha served. Lazarus was one of those sitting at the table with them. Mary came in with a jar of very expensive aromatic oils, anointed and massaged Jesus’ feet, and then wiped them with her hair. The fragrance of the oils filled the house.
Judas Iscariot, one of his disciples, even then getting ready to betray him, said, “Why wasn’t this oil sold and the money given to the poor? It would have easily brought three hundred silver pieces.” He said this not because he cared two cents about the poor but because he was a thief. He was in charge of their common funds, but also embezzled them.
Jesus said, “Let her alone.

I may be completely off here, but I would suggest that it's possible Martha was concerned with serving Jesus because she was trying to make up for what had happened just one chapter earlier... 
She felt like she had disappointed Jesus, and now here he is showing up to her house. She probably thought, "This is it! My chance to make it up to him! I'm gonna serve him like he's never been served before!"
...And I think too many of us can identify with her.
We feel as though we've let Jesus down in some way.
We messed up, and now we have to "serve" our way back into his good graces.
But notice Jesus' response:

"Let her [Mary] alone"

He saw what a beautiful act of worship this truly was. He took special notice of it.
I think it paints a beautiful picture of what Jesus is concerned with.
His biggest concern is not our serving or earning our way into his grace. It's not that we do things for him. He's much more concerned with our completely abandoned heart and life of worship.
It's not that he didn't appreciate Martha's serving, but he was moved by Mary's worship.

So, if you find yourself today feeling like you've messed it up and now you need to serve your way back, let me tell you, God is much more interested in your time WITH Him than FOR Him.
Take that time and effort you're pouring into trying to earn his love, and use it to simply embrace his love and respond to it...all the while resting assured that it's been there the entire time.


  1. Good stuff. There is a tendency to feel as though we need to "make it up," when we screw up. I appreciate the clarification that we don't make it up to God. He stands separate and deserves our love and adoration. Thanks Nathan.