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Luke 10:38-42

February 17th, 2010


At the Home of Martha and Mary

38As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40But 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!”

This is one of three events recorded in the gospels that happened at Mary and Martha’s house. The other two are the raising of Lazarus from the dead (John 11:1-43, blog), and Mary’s anointing of Jesus (Mark 14:1-10, blog, John 12:1-10). It seems logical to me that this was Jesus’ first visit of the three. Mary, Martha, and Lazarus were close friends and supporters of Jesus, so there may have been other visits before this that aren’t recorded, but of the ones that are, it makes sense to me that this happened first. Then later, Jesus came back and raised Lazarus, then after that, out of gratitude, Mary anointed Jesus with perfume.

Martha was busy with preparations for dinner. I imagine that Mary helped with the preparations before Jesus arrived, but when Jesus showed up, she only had eyes for him. The New King James Version adds the word also to verse 39.

39 And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’[a] feet and heard His word.

I don’t want to add too much weight to that one word, since no other translations I’ve seen have it, but there may be an implication in the original Greek that Mary did help with some of the preparations, at least part of the time, but she was not distracted by them the way Martha was. Martha was more focused on her work, while Mary was more focused on Jesus. Martha loved Jesus, and was doing her best to serve him, but she had forgotten what was really important; just being with him and listening to him. Martha was distracted by the preparations, but what was she distracted from? She was distracted from Jesus. It’s easy to get so busy working for the Kingdom that we don’t take time to simply be with Jesus and listen to him. Mary, on the other hand, sat at Jesus’ feet and listened to what he said. Lots of people are very busy working for God and the church but forget to spend time with Jesus, but I have yet to meet anyone who spends time with Jesus and fails to work for him. Our work for Jesus must flow from our time with him.

41“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42but only one thing is needed.[f] Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Are we worried and upset about many things, when only one thing is needed?

One thing I ask of the LORD,
this is what I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD
and to seek him in his temple. (Psalm 27:4)

I want to make sure I choose what is better. I have grown more spiritually in the past year and a half than in my whole life before that, and I believe it’s for one reason; writing this blog. I spend two to three hours, sometimes more, on this blog each day, studying the Bible, learning about God, reading online commentaries and doing research. I’ve volunteered my time in the church my whole life, but all my years of work did not bring me closer to Jesus the way the past 18 months spending time studying the Bible has. I can tell you from my own personal experience that activity, even for God, will not bring you closer to him like simply spending time with him will. I will continue to be involved in ministry, but not at the cost of sitting at his feet, listening to him.

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