As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!"
"Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed--or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her." (Luke 10:38-42)
It's quite amusing to even try to imagine what Martha was doing in her home the day she opened the door to Jesus. Since the author of this blog enjoys good food, he can only conceive that she was fixing a meal fit for a king. (No pun on words intended, but little did she really understand that this Jesus Who was coming for a visit was truly the King of kings!) The smell of lamb roasting slowly, mixed with the aroma of unleavened bread baking, would surely have created a wonderful savor wafting through the abode of the two sisters. Yum! But then too, Martha was no doubt consumed with overall household preparations to make sure everything was in its place for her "renowned" guest.
Jesus finally arrived and made Himself comfortable in the simplicity of this home. Without question, He was a gracious guest that would never have even slightly suggested that anything be out of order or in disarray in His hostess' house, even if it were a complete disaster. The Lord's focus during His ministry on earth was always people-focused. Mary must have sensed or knew this to be a profound truth and therefore decided to take advantage of it, and why not? This was a wonderful opportunity for her to listen to the words the Lord spoke, to absorb His wisdom and overall character. No one else is mentioned in scripture as being in the house other than the two sisters, so it's quite probable that she had a personal audience with the Lord for awhile.
Little imagination is required to understand that Martha kept herself consumed with business, notwithstanding the Lord's presence in her living area. The tasks before her, whether minial or not, robbed her of the joy of having God Almighty in her home as a guest. The tension and resentment mounted against her sister, Mary, until Martha finally snapped. Interestingly, though her anger was at Mary for the most part --no doubt she felt some annoyance at Jesus as well-- she aimed most of it at the Lord by chiding Him. "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!"
Jesus didn't get flustered nor did He lash out back at Martha. He did however, firmly and lovingly remind her that Mary had chosen to sit at His feet and enjoy His presence, and that Mary's choice to do this was the better. Between hustling about to make sure all the many preparations were in order and sitting quietly at the feet of the Master, the latter was, and still is more preferable. Moreover, He of all people would not take that away from Mary by asking her to leave that place of quiet repose to go help her sister, Martha. Luke is silent regarding Martha's response to the Lord's chiding. We can only hope that she listened and heeded Jesus' words.
Beloved saints of God, in today's busy world we frequently find ourselves much like Martha, and can surely identify with her mindset. We are indeed doers. We like to consume our time by doing and doing and doing,,,,, ad infinitum. (We don't handle downtime very well.) In truth, there was nothing wrong with Martha preparing her home for the impending Guest. Today, there is nothing wrong with performing christian service in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. And so we must ask, what is the issue? What is the inherent message of this story tucked in scripture?
We do things for Christ hopefully because we love Him and NOT out of some empty, Christian obligation. This is where a relationship with Jesus and religion in general part company, and take different paths. Those who are intimate with Christ, and love Him with every fiber of their being do things for Him because they choose to do so. We obey the Lord because we love and adore Him. Individuals steeped in religion do things for Christ because they fear Him or worse yet, they impose upon themselves some obligatory sense of responsibility that in reality is not given to them by the Holy Spirit. (Read the parable of the bags of gold in Matthew 25:14-30 and focus primarily on the third servant's mindset.) It is a duty they contrive within themselves, or issued to them by another hence, these same people tend to eventually burn out, and get angry with much resentment.
There is also another important lesson we must extrapolate from this message and it's simply this: enjoying the presence of God is far more important than doing things for Him! The Lord is ultimately far more interested in developing our character as we sit at His feet than He is in what we can do for Him. "And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit." (II Corinthians 3:18)
When we take time to enter into the glorious presence of the Lord, as the Spirit of God takes us to that place of great intimacy where Christ dwells in our hearts by faith, we are transformed little by little to look more like Jesus. Beloved, this is the very heart of God. This is His will for you and me today, and every day until time is no more for us, until we enter into the eternal realm. We will supernaturally conform to the image of Christ as we spend time with Him. The works we will then subsequently perform will have originated from a pure and undefiled heart, one that's in love with Jesus Christ and ergo impassioned to to see His glorious Kingdom advanced throughout the earth today.
Yes, Mary was right all along; she had the right idea. She spent those precious moments sitting at the feet of Jesus listening intently to every word that came from His lips. And during any time when silence would ensue, she was reaffirmed by Him touching her with His hands of love and compassion. Even in the silence there was power that was transferred from the Lord to this precious soul. She was eternally changed. And so it can be for us today as well. Can we carve out time to sit at the Lord's feet and enjoy His wonderful presence like Mary did? Yes! We can; we must!