|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
11:17-32 Here was a house where the fear of God was, and on which his blessing rested; yet it was made a house of mourning. Grace will keep sorrow from the heart, but not from the house. When God, by his grace and providence, is coming towards us in ways of mercy and comfort, we should, like Martha, go forth by faith, hope, and prayer, to meet him. When Martha went to meet Jesus, Mary sat still in the house; this temper formerly had been an advantage to her, when it put her at Christ's feet to hear his word; but in the day of affliction, the same temper disposed her to melancholy. It is our wisdom to watch against the temptations, and to make use of the advantages of our natural tempers. When we know not what in particular to ask or expect, let us refer ourselves to God; let him do as seemeth him good. To enlarge Martha's expectations, our Lord declared himself to be the Resurrection and the Life. In every sense he is the Resurrection; the source, the substance, the first-fruits, the cause of it. The redeemed soul lives after death in happiness; and after the resurrection, both body and soul are kept from all evil for ever. When we have read or heard the word of Christ, about the great things of the other world, we should put it to ourselves, Do we believe this truth? The crosses and comforts of this present time would not make such a deep impression upon us as they do, if we believed the things of eternity as we ought. When Christ our Master comes, he calls for us. He comes in his word and ordinances, and calls us to them, calls us by them, calls us to himself. Those who, in a day of peace, set themselves at Christ's feet to be taught by him, may with comfort, in a day of trouble, cast themselves at his feet, to find favour with him.
Verse 20. - The οϋν points back probably to ver. 1. The type of character so beautifully contrasted in the previous reference to the family at Bethany appears again, and confirms the historical character of Luke 10:38, etc., as well as of the narrative before us. Thoma says that this picture is "simply painted with synoptic color." Martha is the mistress of the house. Martha therefore, when she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him: but Mary sat still in the house. Martha was a woman of impulse, energy, practical duty; like Peter, she was ready even to give advice to her Lord, and eager to put everybody in his rightful place. On the first opportunity she hastened at once to "meet" Jesus, even without at first warning her sister of his approach. Mary, contemplative, pensive, undemonstrative under ordinary circumstances, but with a great fund of love, was sitting in the house receiving the condolences of the Jews (cf. ver. 19). Weiss suggests that Jesus was well aware, from the station of the family, and from the fact that hitherto his own friendship for the sisters had not submitted them to the ban, that "many Jews" would have congregated in the house of mourning. Consequently, Jesus does not come straight to the house, but allows it to be known that he is there.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming,.... Which she might hear of, either by a messenger sent by Christ to her, to acquaint her of it; or rather by some of the people of the town, who knew him, and ran and told her of it; and she being an active person, and stirring about house, might receive the report unknown to her sister, as it seems she did; and as soon as she had the hint, without staying to communicate it to her sister,
went and met him; either through her great affection to him, and eager desire of seeing him; or to consult his safety, and let him know what number of Jews were in their house, that he might consider whether it would be safe for him to be at their house or not.
But Mary sat still in the house; not out of disrespect to Jesus, or through want of affection to him, or through any indifference and sloth, but because she knew not that Jesus was coming; see John 11:28.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
20-22. Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him—true to the energy and activity of her character, as seen in Lu 10:38-42. (See on Lu 10:38-42).
but Mary sat … in the house—equally true to her placid character. These undesigned touches not only charmingly illustrate the minute historic fidelity of both narratives, but their inner harmony.
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