About This Book
Adoration is an unforgettable summons to individual worship through the contrasted stories of Mary and Martha.
Adoration | Mary of Bethany, the Untold Story
Martha and Mary of Bethany are often presented as two separate but completely equal paths for the believer: the path of service and the path of worship. It’s said that Martha followed the Lord down the path of service, and Mary chose the path of worship. But what if that isn’t the story at all? Adoration asks that question and many more.
But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”
Luke 10:41-42 ESV
That Jesus loved Martha is undisputed, but did He commend her ways? Did Jesus rebuke Mary as Martha asked Him to, or did He rebuke Martha? When Jesus returned to Bethany after Lazarus died, Mary and Martha both said the exact same thing to Him: “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” But only one of them moved His heart. And only one sister was singled out for all time by Jesus’ command that her actions be presented each time the Gospel is shared. Is it possible that there’s far more to this seemingly simple tale of a little family that Jesus loved?
In Adoration, Martha Kilpatrick delves deeply into this tale of two sisters, their choices, and their encounters with Jesus Christ. What she unearths is a wealth of wisdom hidden in plain sight, intended to light the way for those who choose to follow Jesus. This starkly beautiful book unlocks the key to true worship and invites the reader to embark on their own journey into deeper relationship with Christ, a journey into Adoration.
“Two roads of choice: An open road of comfortable width, pleasing to humanity, and an austere path, gated and obscure. Only one way leads to God and ‘there are few who find it’ (Matthew 7:13-14).”
The Bible was never meant to be reduced to mere study nor insulted by dissection.
The Bible is living and…designed to be lived.
It is a personal adventure. By the intensity of living under God’s Inquisitive Light, the Bible becomes the discovery of reality, not a collection of facts.
All God’s dealings with us have their counterpart in scripture and we walk in the very footsteps of the characters of the Bible and enter the stage of their story. Their struggles are our struggles and their successes hide our key.
So we comprehend the heroes only when we fight our battles and find the victory. We are near to the fallen when we stare hard at our own stumbling.
The Biblical characters are to be our intimate mentors, and we, their humble students. The quest is to find your current path and your present companion in the intricate caverns of Scripture. Then we know God as He really is, knowable and touchable, blazingly for us but staunch in His Unwavering Holiness and His Glorious Plan…
The Bible presents many major truths in twos, contrasting one against the other…by this, revealing more. Mary and Martha are such a juxtaposition. They cannot be explained by the distinctions of temperament or personality. They do not stand for alternative ways to follow God: “This way or that way, whichever suits you best.”
Mary and Martha, symbols of choice…between what gains God against what loses Him.
We defend in Martha that which Jesus condemned. This only proves that we are…Marthas, independent and unheeding of His will, dealing only with our preference… Just as she was.
Two roads of choice: An open road of comfortable width, pleasing to humanity, and an austere path, gated and obscure. Only one way leads to God and “there are few who find it” (Matthew 7:13-14).
“Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things…”
Jesus stopped at Bethany one day and Martha bustled to fix his lunch and make him comfortable. She chose to relate to His humanity… Martha would feed Him.
Mary stilled herself in homage before Him. She chose to relate to His divinity… Mary would feed on Him.
On the stage of her loud performance, Martha complained to Jesus. Mary was not working and Jesus was ordered to correct her.
Jesus is always commandeered to obey those who work for Him, but those who sit in abasement at His feet…let Him be Himself.
So the stunning contrast of the two women stands to teach us what He likes. And what He does not like.
To make a noisy display of your labors is to perform for the audience of humanity. A true servant demands no help, shuns attention. Jesus’ correction of Martha in the Greek language implies a sharp and severe rebuke. She was wrong. Period.
We are so steeped in the error of working FOR God that we are determined to defend Martha. In straining to give her some due, some merit, we are defending our own self-conscious labors and hoping they too will count with God. They will not.
Make no mistake, Jesus scolded Martha. Martha’s life was multiple, dispersed in the fever of many attractions, confused by many self-loves. Mary’s life was simple, honed and distilled to the sole thing she deemed essential, her object of love, One other than…herself.
Life is a set of enticing traps. A hundred friendly roads beckon us, promising magic destinations. But to follow so many avenues creates only a “maze,” a futile puzzle with no escape and no purpose, and that splendid mystery of our existence is lost by meaningless circling.
Life is not a number of roads, of avenues to explore. And life is not about activities. Life is a set of values that, if not chosen carefully, descend into slavery to the demands of the ridiculous.
Martha lived by roads and activities, not deliberate values. Jesus diagnosed her—not as productive nor responsible, not as noble or even as right. He commended nothing that she was doing. Do you understand? Nothing!
His dry-boned portrayal of her pointless life was this:
“…you are worried and troubled about many things.”
If you live with ‘many things,’ worry and upset is your living habit. Conversely, if “worry and upset” is your habit, it’s a sign you are in the torture of ‘many things.’ Many roads. Many ambitions.
Work is a sorry god whose reward is always strangely empty. It never pays the wage of love that is anticipated. Yet our faith in that god is not discouraged by its dead proffer. We still feed it our highest concentration and our finest energy though it devours…always more.
Living to work – living FOR work – pays only sour bewilderment because God is not impressed.
Any fool can spin and call it “noble work.” Mindless labor, even horses do. Work is humanity’s measure of a person’s worth. He is weighed on the scale of productivity and the more he slaves, the more significant he is reckoned. The more he can be a martyr to labor, the more sympathy or admiration he gains and that brief attention is his final wage. But it is pay that buys…nothing for tomorrow.
Martha’s work was meant to gain acclaim and earn His attention. She was buying His admiration, paying for His love. But He was not for sale and she felt cheated. So she thought she would help Him see…
Her petulant “Lord, do You not care?” was the whine of self-pity and a shameless insult to His love! It was Martha who did not care…about Him.
We are always exposed by how we accuse God.
Martha marched to confront the tardy Jesus as He strolled toward Bethany. She, bold of accusation, would have Him explain till she was satisfied. He should give account of His failure.
She engaged Him in a sort of doctrinal argument which His graciousness accepted. He meets us where we will meet Him but ever pleads to move us to His higher ground.
Before He could speak, she said:
“I know… God will give you whatever you ask.”
By this anticipation of what He could do, she demanded what He should do. It was a subtle command of Jesus to perform, not a faith that He would. The presumption of the Marthas who order God to do what He does.
First Jesus gave her the personal promise:
“Your brother will rise again.”
To which she answered, “I know,” for a second time.
Martha used a word for “know” in the Greek (oida) that meant a complete knowledge, a finished understanding. It was a word for her intellect, her mental knowledge of truth. The door of her hearing was closed for she already knew all.
Paul never used that word in referring to the Lord. His word for “know” was “ginoska,” one that meant an ongoing, unending revelation.
Martha’s logic led her. Her mind was where she related to Jesus and He could only meet her there. So He did, but ever calling her to move from knowledge to relationship. To see Him! By His identity to commune with Him.
God cannot be known nor captured by comprehension.
No labels please. He will blow them away, or worse, let you have them. Jesus is a perpetual mystery, a constant surprise. He was not predictable nor understandable. He can only be followed, never anticipated. He cannot be led. He is Himself a Follower. All His paths are original. Even so, now…
As a last attempt, Jesus told her who He was, a new revelation He had given to no one before this.
“I AM the resurrection and the life. He who believes though he may die; he shall live, and whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?”
Willing always to speak His treasures to the deaf, He proved how He valued her, how He longed for her to know…Him, not about Him. You are teachable only when you are destitute, when your questions have no answers.
And you listen only when you need answers.
Martha was not teachable…she had no questions so she had no quest. Again Martha asserted:
“Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is come into the world.”
“And after she had said these things, she went her way…”
Marthas have the last word, even with God. And her last word was a truth that – by her actions proved – she did not comprehend that which she did not hear.
But she resolutely believed…she believed. It is possible to see who Christ is without any connection to Him…to believe without faith, to follow without surrender, to be of Him but not with Him. To recognize who He is without the comprehension of what it is you know. To know volumes and remain completely ignorant…especially about God.
…a woman came having an alabaster flask… Then she broke the flask and poured it on His head.
Saving nothing, holding back no part, Mary broke the alabaster jar, itself a treasure, spoiled for any future use. It was for Jesus, no other use would it ever see. All for Him.
Mary broke her beautiful jar, but that was nothing for she took her own being, heart and soul and broke it before Him for His use. Her gift merely a picture of her life, opened by the brutal choice of self-annihilation, her own secret death for Him—to Jesus, her Love, her Only Love.
Mary acted out before Jesus His own crucifixion. The bottle shattered—His broken body. The contents poured out—His Holy blood spilled. She understood and she showed Him…
It was about His death, but it was also her own death to lose Him. She was ministering to Him but she was also consenting to say goodbye to her Greatest Necessity, because that was His will…and desire… She would support His choice at the expense of her own needy existence.
No more would she sit at His feet and hear His heart’s secrets. Never again see His glowing face, nor hear His loving words, nor ever, ever again feel His piercing touch. He was going to the Father, by deliberate choice and that meant as well, leaving her behind.
To let Him go would have been a great sacrifice, but to help Him in it, to sustain His going…ah, that was the truly broken vessel. Compared to this, the alabaster jar was nothing.
Mary lived in a profound silence. In all three episodes she is quiet. Only one small quote is recorded. And it was a plea directed to Jesus, not for the ears of people.
The message of her life: not a legacy of words but rather the stark absence of talk, a silence…rare and mystifying. The only voice in her life was Jesus’. He spoke for her, about her…in defense of her.
Mary had no drive to explain, no compulsion to be heard, no obsession to be understood. Lust for audiences had been abandoned. All such had died in her. She had found her soul’s understanding in Him. She had been still enough to know she was heard and now – in quiet – she could listen.
Our idea of prayer is to hurl words at God. Mary knew prayer as silence in His presence, to listen…without the audacity to speak.
The Lord is in His Holy Temple, let all the earth keep silence before Him.
The world is a swirl of noise, a loud competition of voices, in piles of useless words. Mary neither entered it nor heard it. The only words she strained to hear were the captivating Words of God in Christ, full of Living Eternity. And they were – for her – priceless, the only Words worth hearing.
Silence is one thing, amazing in itself, but stillness is a rare internal quiet, a peace of the mind, a rest of the heart, by having found one’s long lost home…in the Soft Presence of God.
Mary found serenity before she entered stillness. True quiet issues from inviting God into the long-sealed chambers of the soul and letting His invasion calm our native hysteria.
Self-centered talk is the expression of pride, of not having seen the God whose Face perceives us. Meekness is not natural to a humanity that thinks it is superior to its own Creator.
Humility is the quality of having had vain illusions cremated by the Burning Love of Christ. Silence is born of humility, the awareness that you have out of your self-taught ideas nothing to speak worth hearing. It is having encountered God by His True Size, breathtaking and magnificent, and seeing the contrast between you and Him. It is the exact measure of your consciousness of God and the proof of your confidence in Him…that He really IS…the God you want Him to be, nothing less and so much more.
We do not grasp the Holy Gentleness of God. If we insist on the babble of our crude humanity, charmed by the sound of our own noise, then this God of Kindness will stand back, robed in His Tranquil Dignity, and let us have the vain spotlight of endless talk.
His voice is not in storm or wind, not in earthquake nor fire. We could not bear that voice in the Fullness of such Measureless Energy. As Elijah learned, His voice was still and small, “delicate and whispering” (1 Kings 19:12).
Jesus said to His disciples:
Matthew 10:27 NASB
“What you hear whispered in your ear…”
If humanness will merely be still, the entire Trinity will come forth and speak by a whisper in the silence…heard by no one else.