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.” Luke 10:38-42
Martha is a good woman. She is very generous. She is responsible. She is assertive. She takes initiative. She is a successful home owner! This is no small thing for a woman in this day.
Martha is dependable and willing to work hard. She is a busy host–hosting King Jesus, no less. She is the kind of person who gets things done–something she takes great pride in.
Martha is a very busy lady. There are a lot of preparations to be made. But out of the corner of her eye, Martha spots her sister Mary, “Is that Mary sitting down over there?” You can imagine the type of conversation that floods Martha’s thinking:
“Wait! Mary shouldn’t be sitting at His feet, she should be helping me cook His dinner.”
“Why is Mary relaxing while I’m working?”
“Mary never helps me. She’s so irresponsible. She is so lazy”
“She better not think I’m going to serve her too!”
“Mary deserves a piece of my mind…”
Martha, distracted by all the preparations, let her thinking run so wild she marches out and explodes at Jesus. Martha tells Jesus, the King of Heaven, what He should do about the situation:
“Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” Luke 10:40.
This is a very fractured and legalistic approach to following Jesus. All of us can fall into this trap of wrong thinking and wrong doing…
- working out of a false sense of what it means to be a follower
- wrongly valuing work and busyness
- thinking we carry the weight because no-one else can, no-one else is good enough, nor are they willing
- accusing Jesus–or others–of not caring, “Lord, don’t you care… Luke 10:40
- looking at our own efforts and successes to justify our warped thinking
- measuring and comparing ourselves to others, my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Luke 10:40
- complaining and gossiping about others as a means to get sympathy, or to get our way
- wrongly believe Jesus validates our self-centered and warped thinking
- wrongly believe Jesus is on our side
- tell Jesus what He should do to fix something, Tell her to help me! Luke 10:40
- strive at serving, and then suppose everyone around is wrong for not striving also
Martha allowed the worries of her task to frustrate her thinking and dictate her actions. Jesus finally said, “Martha, Martha… you are worried and upset about many things, Luke 10:41. Can you imagine what Martha must have felt at Jesus’ words? Maybe, shocked that he didn’t agree with her? Unappreciated? Offended? “Does Jesus see what I’m doing?” Until that moment, I’m sure Martha thought she would get the complete support of Jesus.
It’s not that Jesus didn’t see the work Martha was doing and appreciate it. Jesus saw all her hard work. He saw her willingness and generosity. John 11:5 says, Jesus loved Martha. It’s just that Martha placed value on the wrong thing.
Jesus followed up His comment to Martha with, “…few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her,” Luke 10:42.
Jesus was saying rightly value and prioritize time with Me. Jesus says to every one of us, Come away with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest, Mark 6:31.
In life there is no shortage of work. Life requires work. Martha had become so busy with the work, over-valuing it, she missed what mattered most: sitting at the feet of Jesus.
How many times have we done this same thing? It’s too easy to be alone in our thinking and begin down a track of self-justifying, while simultaneously blaming other people for things–fully believing Jesus validates our every thought!
If we would hear the voice of Jesus, if we were open enough to hearing, attuned to Him, we would hear our own name… “Martha, Martha…”
When we make time everyday to sit at the feet of Jesus, praying, reading the Word, worshipping, that’s when we start to know Him. He changes our perspective. Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said, had the right perspective, Luke 10:39.
A relationship only grows as we spend time with a person. Jesus wants desperately for us to spend time with Him daily so we can know Him personally. If we don’t spend time with Him, we only know about Him.
Sitting at the feet of Jesus we learn to rightly prioritize and seek Him before all other things only then do we grow spiritually. We learn to hear His voice.
Sitting at the feet of Jesus is seeking first the Kingdom, Matthew 6:33. Then God promises everything else in life will fall into place. We get His supernatural strength, His peace, His energy working in us–empowering us to do all the busy work life requires. It’s here we discover His heart for our life, and the lives of people around us.
When do you make time to sit at the feet of Jesus?