Personal name meaning “lady [of the house]” or “mistress.” Sister of Mary and Lazarus of Bethany and one of Jesus’ best-loved disciples. True to her name, Martha is portrayed as a person in charge: she welcomed Jesus as a guest in her home (Luke 10:38); she was concerned with meeting the obligations of a hostess, whether preparing food (Luke 10:40; John 12:2) or
greeting guests (John 11:20). Together with Mary, she sent for Jesus when Lazarus was ill (John 11:3). Luke 10:38-42 contrasts Martha’s activist discipleship with Mary’s contemplative discipleship. The church cannot minister without “Martha” who are willing to serve along.
Jesus’ gentle rebuke serves as a perpetual reminder not to major on minor matters. Jesus must not be neglected in the name of service. In John 11:21-27 Jesus led Martha from an inadequate to a lofty confession. Faced with the realities of death, Martha, however, later doubted (John 11:39)