Lazarus on Martha

Early sunlight filtered through the leaves of the olive tree next to my bedroom window. Jesus and His followers had just left Samaria on their way to Jerusalem.

Despite my father’s sickness, which had escalated slowly, he still managed to walk with me into the village to visit a friend. I noticed his lesions were spreading and becoming more painful.

Suddenly, we saw a crowd clustering together. Jesus, the prophet from Galilee, was praying for some people who were sick … all of whom I personally knew.

My father’s leprosy had not graduated to the point where he was forced to be quarantined. But it was fast moving in that direction.

We both knew of Jesus and of His teaching. My sisters and I, along with our father, had heard Him teach in Jerusalem at the Passover festival earlier that year.

We found ourselves spellbound by His words. Jesus spoke like no other teacher in Israel. Not once did He quote another rabbi as all the other teachers did. He instead used parables and metaphors and claimed that Almighty God had directly inspired what He said.

Our hearts burned within us as He spoke. Time stood still. Our eyes never moved from His face. The music of His voice, the majesty of His person, and the magnetism of His words ravished our hearts.

There was an air of sovereignty about Him. His confidence felt almost tangible, and it made me stand taller. At the same time, He was gentle and approachable. An unusual combination.

My father almost stumbled over the uneven stones. He gripped my arm, and I held him up. Some of the bandages on his right arm had come off, and his leprosy-marked skin was exposed for all to see. I saw others glance at him, and I felt their disdain.

We saw Jesus approaching ahead. I wanted nothing more than for my father to be healed of his disease.

“Jesus,” I called out, “please come here.”

My father ducked his head, almost embarrassed that he should be the center of any attention.

Jesus walked over to us and asked, “What would you like Me to do for you?” I’ll never forget it. My father said hesitatingly, “I have leprosy. I want to be made whole.”

Jesus looked straight at him, put one hand on his forehead and the other on his chest, and boldly said, “You are clean.”

My father straightened. Awe filled his face. Jesus motioned for me to come forward and examine him. Immediately I removed the bandages from his arms. The spots and lesions had vanished!

Dumbfounded, I pushed the words past the lump in my throat. “Thank You,” I said. After I could speak more I told Him, “We live in Bethany. If you are able, we would like to prepare a meal for You and Your disciples for dinner.”

My father clasped his hands together. “Yes, please, it would be our honor. I have two daughters, and they would be thrilled to have You join us.”

Jesus responded, “Thank you. My disciples and I will arrive at the eleventh hour.”

Euphoric I said, “Wonderful!” I gave Him directions to our house.

As we journeyed home, my father began to weep. “I cannot believe what just happened. I was so worried that I would have to leave you and the girls. It was my greatest nightmare.”

I couldn’t hold back the tears myself.

When we returned home, we told Mary and Martha that Jesus was in the village and about how He had healed our father. They were overjoyed. Tears coursed silently down Mary’s cheeks.

Martha examined him from head to toe (his eyes still red from crying). There was no sign of leprosy. The white patches of dead skin were gone, and so was the exposed infection underneath. Our father was completely healed.

I said to Martha, “But that is not all …  the Teacher and His disciples are coming here tonight. We invited them for dinner.”

“What?” Martha said, stepping back.

“That’s wonderful!” Mary said.

“Wonderful?” Martha shot me a look.

“I hope you’ve learned how to cook and clean. We don’t have time. A meal for so many?”

Martha crossed her arms over her chest. I knew how much she loved to serve others, despite all her huffing and puffing.

“Tell me what to do,” I said.

“Firewood,” she barked. “Bring me lots of it.”

Mary eased her slender frame past Martha, asking if there was anything she could do to help.

“Of course,” Martha snapped.

“Get some baskets, we need to go into the city.”

Mary brushed her jet-black hair over her shoulder, grinned at me, and turned back to our older sister. “At your service.”

Martha began plotting how she was going to feed seventeen people. She had hosted many meals before, but this would be the largest she had ever prepared.

She paced back and forth. Her skirt swishing around her short legs, she began muttering about the project. “We’re going to need lots of dates, goat cheese, garlic, dill, bay leaves, coriander, mustard seeds, and lentils. I know exactly what I will prepare for everyone.”

Mary and Martha rushed to Jerusalem to obtain what they needed.

Taken from “God’s Favorite Place on Earth” by Frank Viola Author.

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