Saturday, November 13, 2021

Mary Sat While Martha Seethed

I want us to look at an incident in the life of two sisters, Mary and Martha. I think it will be beneficial to us as we enter into a long holiday period here in America: Thanksgiving is celebrated here this month and Christmas in December. Their story is recorded in Luke 10: 38-42.

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. “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 one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better and it will not be taken away from her.”

            What had Martha so worried and upset? To put it simply, she was caught up in all the preparations for her special dinner guests and that had become her sole focus. She wanted the table to look perfect, each dish to have just the right amount of herbs and other flavoring. Oh, and the special wine glasses needed to be placed out. Have you ever been involved in a project or even a special meal yourself, and you found yourself getting so caught up in it that it consumed your every moment? You made your list and kept checking to see that every detail was just perfect.

            But Martha’s problem escalated beyond herself and her busyness. This was her home and the guests were there at her
invitation, yet, she expected her sister to pitch right in and assist her with all the preparations. When Mary chooses to sit with the men and listen to Jesus, the rabbi, which really was not culturally acceptable and may have been an embarrassment to her sister, Martha goes on and on with her fuming and fusing and muttering. I think we all identify with the resentment that Martha is feeling. Perhaps Martha even wished that she could just sit and listen to the rabbi, but she felt the pressure of providing hospitality.

            Then Martha does something that I would never have the nerve to do, she complained to Jesus about her sister’s lack of assistance. Furthermore, she dares to command Jesus to “tell her to help me.”  She didn’t tell Mary herself to help her or even scold her for sitting there while she did all the work; she scolded Jesus for not telling Mary to get up and go help her sister.

            I love Jesus’s loving but direct reply, “Martha, Martha, you are troubled and worried about many things, but one thing is needful.” This seemed to have an immediate soothing effect upon her. Makes me wonder if perhaps Jesus didn’t go on to say, “Martha, why don’t you too

just come sit awhile. Dinner can wait. Peter can go out in the garden and pick the figs that Mary was going after. I have something to say that I want you to hear.” While there’s no record of his saying more, it’s implied in his words, “Mary has chosen what is better and it will not be taken away from her.” We all want to keep the good part of anything, whether it be life, marriage, motherhood, you name it. God’s Word clearly teaches that this world and everything in it is passing away, but God’s truths, his Word will abide forever and no one can take them away from us. Even the good things of this world will come to an end. Oh, I hope Martha took the hint.

            So, when you find yourselves busy about many things this holiday season, Jesus says the same words to you, not in condemnation or shame, but just as a loving reminder to not confuse the transient with the eternal.  Christian women are guilty of mouthing the phrases, “Keep Christ in Christmas,” or “Remember the reason for the season.” Then we get whipped into a frenzy decorating the house, purchasing

gifts, making batch after batch of special cookies until we’re just like Martha. Yes, even Christian women are heard to say, “I can’t wait ‘til Christmas is over.” Surely you don’t mean that you can’t wait until honoring the birth of Christ is over. Perhaps you have put expectations on yourself and are too concerned with traditions and what others might think to do what might really honor Christ. Christmas will still be Christmas whether you make every cookie you used to or not, whether you decorate every room in the house or purchase just the perfect gift for every family member and prepare a 6-course Christmas dinner.

            I encourage every women listening to find a place of contentment in Christ that enables you to focus your energies on him. Play praise choruses and carols that make your heart soar and joyful that Christ was born. Then, listen for the still small voice that whispers, “My precious daughter, there are many things that could distract and bother you, but you have chosen the better. I will gift you with my peace and contentment.” Have a blessed Thanksgiving as you look forward to Christmas.

Message by Shari Hervold
Bible Teacher for 
"Friends Needing Friends International Widow Ministry"


Give Thanks by Don Moen