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Martha, Martha

June 7, 2006

Luke 10:38-42//Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore, tell her to help me.” And Jesus answered and said to her,

“Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”

I was reading this last night and my heart went out to Martha. Everyone hearlds Mary for being so captured by Jesus and willing to drop everything to sit at his feet, which is good – go Mary. You know what, though, if 13 grown men (at least, because who knows how many people were following Jesus aruond. You can bet Lazarus was there, so that’s at least 14) who had been walking around for days showed up at your house, you’d be expected to feed them and make them comfortable. Jesus might understand if you just sat at his feet, but the other guys would be complaining that they’re hungry. It tells us Martha welcomed Him into her house – of course she was going to serve them.

And later, doesn’t Jesus wash His guys’ feet and tell them that to be first in the Kingdom you have to be a slave of all? Isn’t that exactly what Martha was doing? I grew concerned; surely Jesus wouldn’t tell Martha not to do something and then, later, tell his disciples to do that same thing.

Everytime we read or talk about this moment, we think of Mary the devoted lover and Martha the worker-bee who didn’t realize she was doing the wrong thing. We remember Jesus’ answer to Martha as a kind of rebuke, and we try to make it cut-and-dry by catagorizing Mary as “right” and Martha as “wrong.” So I looked at it again, and asked Holy Spirit what I was missing.

He told me to look at what Jesus corrected her on. He didn’t tell her not to serve. He didn’t tell her to stop feeding the guys and sit down; he told her not to worry and be troubled. Yes, serve, but listen to what He’s saying while you do it. Don’t worry about what someone else is or is not doing, just serve where your service is needed, keep your focus on Him, and love. He loves a cheerful giver (2 Cor 9:7), right?

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