The Two Sisters

Summary: Mary and Martha from Bethany are depicted in this vignette as older women in their sixties. They are preparing a meal for their brother Lazarus and a guest of honour, the apostle John.

Style: Dramatic

Duration: 10 mins

Scripture: John 11:38-57, Luke 10:38-42, John 12:1-11

Setting: Late afternoon in a “modern”, well-equipped kitchen in Bethany in the AD 70s, several years after the siege of Jerusalem. Bethany is small village on the eastern slopes of the Mount of Olives just outside Jerusalem, situated in the West Bank. 


  • Mary, a woman in her sixties
  • Martha, her sister, also in her sixties, a couple of years older than Mary


Scene: When the scene opens, we see the two sisters, Mary and Martha, working in the kitchen, preparing a meal for their guest, the apostle John and their brother, Lazarus, who is expected to arrive later. At first the audience should have no idea of what year this is happening, nor who the women are. The women only refer to Lazarus as “our brother” and to one another as “sister” in the beginning. They also refer to Jesus as “the Teacher” at first, because that is how they first knew him. They are preparing a meal to celebrate John’s arrival in Bethany so it might include the following items on the menu:


  • goat, lamb, fish
  • nuts, spices, bitter herbs
  • cheese, yogurt
  • bean stew, fish sauce, 
  • unleavened bread, dates
  • aromatized wine


When the scene opens, Mary is working in the kitchen and Martha enters.


Martha: (arriving to the kitchen with a basket of food)  

I have the meat, fish, cheese, milk, fruit, nuts, spices…did I forget anything, sister?


Mary: No, we have everything we need. The bean stew is simmering. I’m just about to put the bread in the oven. Can you grab the skillet for me and put some oil in it?


Martha: (putting her basket down and picking up a big skillet) Do you think they will arrive on time?


Mary: I hope so. Our brother is supposed to meet John in the city and then bring him here. All we can do is make sure everything is ready when they arrive. (reflecting) I’m so excited to see them again!


Martha: So am I, sister. We haven’t seen Lazarus in months! And when was the last time we saw John? Long before the war.


Mary: Yes. Twenty years? I’m not sure. I’ve missed him.


Martha: Remember how our Teacher loved him so much? 


Mary: Yes, like a brother. 


Martha: That was more than 40 years ago! (shaking her head) 


Mary: I never feel old until I calculate how much time has passed.


Martha: Wait till you’re my age! (laughing)


Mary: (laughing) Ohhh, you’re only two years older than me! 


Martha: Our little brother is no longer young, either.


Mary: And John, too! (pausing her work to reflect) John is an old man now.  


Martha: (shaking her head in disbelief) I always remember him in my memories as a young man, a boy, really. It will be so strange to see him now. 


Mary: And wonderful! I can hardly wait to hear his stories about all the people who have given their lives to the Lord. (pause) I heard he’s writing a book about it. 


Martha: (surprised) Where did you hear that, sister? 


Mary: Our brother told me. Well, he told my friend’s husband’s mother, who told me. 


Martha: (laughs) That’s you! Always on the grapevine! 


(pointing to the cheese and milk) Remember, don’t let him eat any dairy. You know his stomach! (mimes an explosion) Whoosh!!


Mary: (laughing) We can’t have our brother running from the table while John is telling us all his stories. 


(Martha laughs)


(musing) I wonder if John remembers the day we had everyone gather at our house for a feast in honour of our Teacher.  


Martha: There were so many people! The food wasn’t ready, the wine wasn’t poured. I was so anxious. I didn’t want to take you away from Him but I also didn’t want to disappoint everyone by ruining everything. 


Mary: You did nothing wrong, sister! Jesus didn’t want you to be anxious about our feast. He was teaching us about the Feast in Heaven, when we would all be there with the angels to celebrate with Him at the throne of God. He knew your heart and He loved you for wanting to serve everyone, but he also knew that we would have a lifetime ahead to serve in His kingdom. 


Martha: And we have! Thank God we are still healthy. 


Mary: (thinking) Yes. And Lazarus, too! Other than his occasional stomach problems, I think our brother’s even healthier than we are. I am forever amazed.


Mary: Yes. (reflecting for a moment) We lost him.


Martha: But only for four days. 


Mary: He was gone. Dead. To think of it now, it seems almost impossible.


Martha: Remember what Jesus said: “With God, all things are possible.”


Mary: Where was my faith, Martha? Do you remember how I ran up to our Teacher and said “Why didn’t you get here sooner? You could have saved his life.”


Martha: (with compassion) You were grieving, Mary. Deeply grieving. I was, too. 


Mary: I was angry at our Lord because he didn’t arrive quickly enough to save Lazarus before he died. My heart was so shattered, Martha. It died along with our brother.


Martha: And yet he was here in time to bring Lazarus back to life again. Right in front of our whole family…and our community. Everyone saw what Jesus did, calling Lazarus out of his tomb. 


Mary: When Lazarus appeared from his tomb and (incredulously) WALKED…I came back to life, too. 


Martha: (nodding) The Lord was showing us an example of how our heavenly Father would resurrect him, too. When the Romans crucified Jesus, I knew. I just knew. Even though I found it hard to believe with my mind that Jesus would arise from death, I knew it in my heart with faith.


Mary: Now whenever I feel that God has forgotten me in my troubles, whenever I start thinking He hasn’t appeared in time to save me, I think of our brother. No matter what happens to us in the future, I know Jesus will always arrive. (smiling radiantly) He is never too late to heal the brokenhearted.   


Martha: Remember how we gathered afterward to celebrate our brother’s return to life and to thank Jesus for saving him?


Mary: Yes, the oil. The nard. It was left over from when Lazarus was entombed. We didn’t need it for our brother so I used it for Him.


Martha: (reflecting for a moment) You used the oil to soothe our Teacher’s head and feet. 


Mary: Not all his disciples were pleased with me for doing that, Martha. Using that expensive oil on Him. 


Martha: (surprised) Who wasn’t pleased? I never knew that.


Mary: That’s because you weren’t in the room. It was Judas. And it wasn’t just about the oil. Judas was angry because I was a woman. He thought I didn’t have the right to be there at our Lord’s feet, listening to his words along with the men. But Jesus wanted me to be there.


(Martha smiles and nods, then suddenly points at the stove)


Martha: Oh! Mary, don’t let the bread burn! 


Mary: (grabbing the skillet from the stove and laughing with embarrassment) You see, Martha, what would I do without you? 


Martha: (laughing) It’s your kitchen, sister! I’m just here to entertain you while you work! 


Mary: (looking out a window) Look, it’s Lazarus and John! They’re here! 


Martha: Praise God! (smiling at Mary) And they look hungry!





© Copyright Garth von Buchholz, all rights reserved. The script may not be reproduced, translated or copied in any medium, including books, CDs and on the Internet, without written permission of the author.

This play may be performed free of charge, on the condition that copies are not sold for profit in any medium, nor any entrance fee charged. In exchange for free performance, the author would appreciate being notified of when and for what purpose the play is performed. He may be contacted at:This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.