by C.N. Tokatloglou
This was a very special house guest. She had invited both him and his students, and she was going to put before them a deluxe, “finger-lickin’ good” dinner.
But somehow, the smoke from the fires and the riches of the freshly chopped onions were blinding her with tears, and she had so much more yet to do in order to have everything ready and sizzling hot at the same time. In desperation she came in to the dining room, only to find her sister by the feet of this Great Teacher, seated and drinking in every word and absolutely dead to the world.
So, assuming the air of a foreman (epistates–for it says epistasa, which means “having stood over”), she said to Him, “Lord, doesn’t it concern you at all that my sister has left me to do all the work alone? Tell her therefore that she help me.”
It would be unfair to underestimate Martha’s frustration and indignation. She was in difficulty. She had been doing all she could, but she was not able to cope with it all. So she asked for help.
While you are pondering whether she asked for help in the right way, we will look into the Greek word translated help.
It is synantilambetai. It is the 3rd person singular, 2nd aorist subjunctive of synantilambanomai, which is composed of three words: syn (with), anti (over against, opposite to), lambano (to take hold of). Thus, antilambanomai is “to take in turn, to assist,” so synantilambanomai is “with someone else, from the other or opposite side, take hold of.”
It is used when speaking of a burden that is too big or too heavy for one person and requries that somebody else, along with you, takes hold of it from the other end so that the two of you can move it properly.
Thus, Martha’s request (Luke 10:40) was for more than just a little help. She was not asking for something she could manage on her own. The work was more than what she could cope with.
It is very interesting that the Lord has used the same word in Romans 8:26:
“Likewise the Spirit also Helps our infirmities; because we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And He who searches the hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.”
Here we have this refreshing revelation, that when we honestly have done all we can, but are stuck–we cannot even know what to say or how to say in prayer the right thing–well, it is then that the Spirit steps in just at the right time and along with us, from His end He takes hold of the situation or problem and lifts it up to God in a very able, clear, definite and acceptable way.
Meanwhile all we can do during that time is to groan in response to his burden upon our hearts. God understands and answers!
Therefore, if we respond properly to God, nothing is impossible, because even when we don’t know how to tackle the problem in prayer, the Spirit along with us will take hold of the problem and it will be properly taken care of. Thus we become dearly beloved workers-together with God every step of the way.
Difficult but triumphant is this life in Christ. Let us continue walking in the Spirit in the train of His Triumph.