Sibling Love

Share Now

Around 1980 I met a baby girl with a name I had never heard before–Bethany. I thought her name was beautiful.

Ray and I had decided to give each of our children a Bible name and a family name. When we had our first baby girl, we named her Bethany Kathleen–Bethany for the hometown of Jesus’ good friends, Mary, Martha, and Lazarus and Kathleen for Ray’s mother.

We thought Bethany Kathleen was just right for the first Notgrass girl born in our clan since Ray’s daddy’s first cousin Lura was born 53 years before.

Our Wednesday morning Bible class has been studying relationships this fall. Yesterday we talked about families. While we were discussing Mary and Martha, I noticed something I had not noticed before about a change in Martha’s attitude toward Mary.

The first time we hear about these sisters is when Jesus visits Martha’s home in Luke 10:38-42. I suspect, after reading other passages about them, that Martha, Mary, and Lazarus shared a home, but in this passage, the home is called Martha’s. Perhaps she was the eldest.

This is the incident when Martha fusses at Jesus because her sister Mary has left her to do all the serving alone. Have you ever felt like Martha–alone with the work while others are doing what they really want to do and what you wish you were doing? I know I have.

In John 11, Mary and Martha summoned Jesus to their home because their brother was sick. The sisters invited Him by sending this message: “The one whom You love is sick.” The passage goes on to tell us that Jesus loved all three of these siblings. Jesus waited a little while before going to his friends, and by the time He arrived, Lazarus had been dead for four days.

Martha was the first person to see Jesus when He arrived. The two of them had a conversation about resurrection. Jesus told her: “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this?” (John 11:26). She answered, “Yes, Lord; I have believed that You are the Christ, the Son of God, even He who comes into the world” (John 11:27).

After Martha spoke those powerful words of faith, she went away and called her sister to come. This time there was no, “Where is that woman? Why do I have to go get her? Why is she never where she’s supposed to be?” Now they were sisters bound together by a shared heartache–and a shared faith. Soon they would have a shared joy when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead!

I am the youngest regular member of our Wednesday class. Jenny (the wife of our bathroom remodeler) has been coming with me since early October, and since she is one year younger than I, I have had a reprieve from being the baby of the bunch. At the beginning of class, I asked the ladies to raise their hands if they had ever had sisters and if they have them now. I continued having them raise their hands to indicate brothers, children, and grandchildren.

Newsletter Option 5
Bethany Kathleen (right) with her Siblings, John Raymond and Mary Evelyn and with Her Daddy and Mama in the Mid-80s (I think I have shared this picture before, but I wrote this too late to search for another. Besides it’s special. It was taken by a sweet new Christian on our church steps in Oxford, Mississippi.)

In the midst of all this hand-raising, Miss Nell asked us to raise our hands if we were the only one left. She said she has no brothers, sisters, nieces, or nephews now. How lonely that must feel. She was, however, excited that her daughter, three grandchildren, and three great-grandchildren are all coming for Thanksgiving!

I pray God will bless you as you nurture your relationships with your siblings (I know that is often very difficult). I pray that He will also bless you as you nurture the relationships between your own children, if you have more than one child.

Proverbs 7:4 acknowledges the great worth of a sister by telling us that we should have a “sister” relationship with wisdom.

Say to wisdom, “You are my sister.”
Proverbs 7:4

Share Now

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *