Luke 10: 38 – 42 At the home of Martha and Mary

Luke 10: 38 – 42 At the home of Martha and Mary

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.’

*       *       *

I find it interesting how often Jesus shows that God’s plan overrides human fairness. Think of the older brother of the prodigal son; or the workers who receive a full day’s wages despite having only worked for one hour.

Martha seems to have a genuine grievance; she’s doing all the work while her sister sits listening to Jesus. How would we respond to that? Maybe we’d suggest that the sisters split the work, finished it in half the time that Martha on her own could manage, and then both together listen to Jesus’ teaching?

Uh-uh.

That’s not Jesus’ solution.

He tells Martha that Mary has made a better choice, and he’s not going to ask her to change it.

How do we understand this?

Firstly, what would be the negatives if Martha stopped working and sat down with her sister and listened? A cold dinner? An untidy house? Dirty bed linen?

And the positives? An hour or two in the physical presence of Jesus, just listening to him and learning about the kingdom of God. It’s an opportunity that may only come once in the women’s lives.

Secondly, what is Martha’s motivation for doing so much work? Is it the desire to show hospitality to guests (that is to say, human convention)? Is it a way of giving something back to Jesus in the form of hospitality (that is to say, as if hospitality were a fair exchange for Jesus’ teaching)?

And Mary’s motivation? To listen eagerly to the voice of Jesus. To accept with love and gratitude the free and precious gift of Jesus’ time and attention.

Note that Jesus has great compassion for Martha.

‘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.’

Jesus wishes that Martha weren’t worried and upset by many things. He doesn’t say she’s doing a bad thing, rather that her sister has chosen something better.

We have the opportunity of spending time with Jesus, in prayer, in study and in worship. Let’s remember when there seems to be a conflict of interest between spending time with Jesus or being busy (even with good, charitable actions) that:

  • The kingdom of God comes first, before anything else.
  • God’s free gift of Jesus cannot be repaid, and cannot be shackled by human convention.

Prayer

Heavenly Father

Thank you for your wonderful gift of Jesus. Help us to love him so much that we want to spend all our time in his company.

In Jesus’ name, Amen

Published by pennygadd51

I write. I've written many pieces of flash fiction, dozens of short stories and two novels, with a third in progress.

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