In Sunday School, we have been studying the stories of Mary and Martha. Whole books have been written over Jesus’ rebuke to Martha.
We see this story in Luke 10. The part that has been studied and discussed for centuries is found in verses 40-42:
But Martha was cumbered [over-occupied, too busy] about much serving, [used often as the word minister – Acts 1:25. 6:4, 6:25, 12:25] and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me. And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful [to be anxious; to be troubled with cares] and troubled [to be troubled in mind, disquieted] about many things: But one thing is needful [necessary]: and Mary hath chosen that good [excellent, distinguished; upright, honourable] part, which shall not be taken away from her.
As we looked at this passage, we noticed some pros about Martha:
- She was a servant. Ministering to others is commended in God’s Word.
- She was a hard worker.
- She was capable.
But of course we know that she had some cons too:
- She was too busy — so busy that she was stressed about it and developed a bad spirit about her service.
- She accused Jesus of not caring.
- She told Jesus what to do.
- She was anxious and troubled in mind. She was worrying.
- She did not have the right priorities.
Martha was cumbered about much serving;” she was distracted by the many things she was trying to do. It is possible for a follower of Christ to attempt too much; sometimes this is due to a sense of self-importance and of pride. It may result in such a mood of irritation and temper as was shown by Martha when in criticizing her sisters he humiliated her by rebuking her in the presence of their Guest, and by addressing the remark to him rebuked him as well, “Lord, dost thou not care that my sister did leave me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me.” In his reply Jesus showed his affection by tenderly repeating her name, but he rebuked her spirit and revealed its cause, “Martha, Martha, thou art anxious and troubled about many things: but one thing is needful: for Mary hath chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” There was no need for an elaborate meal; but few things or one would have sufficed; yet one thing was needful, and that Mary had chosen, for while the Master does appreciate all that we undertake for him, he knows that our first need is to sit at his feet and learn his will; then in our tasks we shall be calm and peaceful and kindly, and at last our service may attain the perfectness of that of Mary when in a later scene she poured upon the feet of Jesus the ointment, the perfume of which still fills the world. Charles R Erdman
I see myself in Martha, but I don’t see myself too much in Mary. I was very convicted by the cons. I am very busy. I get a bad attitude sometimes about my service. I don’t take the time to sit at Jesus’ feet like I should. My priorities definitely need some work. I think I know what God should do in my life. I can worry about things I cannot control.
I know I am not the only way that feels this way. No wonder God included this story in His Word! I’m sure there are many more Marthas in this world than there are Marys.
As I studied to teach about these interactions Jesus had with Mary and Martha, I liked some notes I found my David Guzik. He mentions how there are other examples of having the right priorities in the Bible. Look at these verses:
- One thing have I desired of the Lord, that I will seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in His temple. (Psalm 27:4)
- When Jesus heard these things, he said to him, “You still lack one thing…come, follow Me.” (Luke 18:22)
- Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:13-14)
David Guzik shares what that one needful thing, sitting at the feet of Jesus or to have the ONE THING that is truly important, means:
To sit at the feet of Jesus implies readiness to accept and obey what Jesus teaches
To sit at the feet of Jesus implies submission to Jesus; rebellion is done with
To sit at the feet of Jesus implies faith in who Jesus is
To sit at the feet of Jesus implies discipleship
To sit at the feet of Jesus implies love
Are you sitting at the feet of Jesus?
If you aren’t, there is still time to do that one, needful thing. Martha did! When Lazarus died, she was the first out of the house to go see Jesus. When she sees Him, she remarks that if he had been there, Lazarus would not have died. As they continue their conversation, Jesus asks her if she truly believes that He is the resurrection and the life. She answers, “Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world.”
Even though her brother died, she believed that He was her Messiah.
It is also interesting to note that in the last interaction we have with Martha, it is mentioned that she is serving.
Then Jesus six days before the passover came to Bethany, where Lazarus was, which had been dead, whom he raised from the dead. 2 There they made him a supper; and Martha served: but Lazarus was one of them that sat at the table with him.
Martha is still serving, but her attitude must have now been right because she is not rebuked. It is wonderful to serve; God wants us to serve! But He wants us to do it because we love Him. He wants us to do it in such a way that He receives the glory. He wants us to do it not of duty but out of delight!
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