Updated: Nov 21, 2021
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INTRODUCTION. Bethany was a small village less than two miles from Jerusalem
on the road to Jericho just beyond the ridge of the Mount of Olives. Mary and Martha, sisters, with their brother Lazarus lived in Bethany, and this story indicates that Jesus knew the family well. As Jesus journeyed to and from Jerusalem, He stopped in Bethany to rest from his travels, perhaps lodging overnight at the home of these friends (Luke 10:38; John 12:1; Matt. 21:17; Mark 11:11).
In this incident which occurred about four months before Jesus' crucifixion, Martha invited and received Jesus into her home. The story pictures the contrast between Martha and her sister Mary. Both honored Jesus but each in a different manner. Martha honored Jesus as a guest. Mary honored him as a teacher. Jesus gently rebuked Martha, not because she was busy and industrious, but because she had allowed things that were unimportant for the moment (entertainment of her guest) to distract her from the more important spiritual things (the blessed, saving words of Jesus).