The story of Mary and Martha is not just a story pertaining to women. There are lessons for all of us.
Life is always a lot more complex than we like to imagine. Sin vs. righteousness, bad vs. good, that’s pretty easy to discern, even though we may not always make the right choice. What’s more complex is the choice between good and best. That is more dynamic. Usually our choices are between one good thing and another good thing. How do we make the right decisions about what’s best for our life? Moment to moment everything is in change. That’s part of the lesson from this story. The story just before this one is the parable of the Good Samaritan. We know that story. We know what a Good Samaritan is. It’s all about loving your neighbor and serving one another. And now Martha does just that by serving Jesus. So why does Jesus criticize her for serving? Martha has two good options and, most likely because of her background, chooses the one she does. Mary actually steps out and does something different. Women were not disciples, nor one was a Jewish rabbi. So what Mary does is step outside the norm. Lessons for us all: 1. Distraction. Martha was distracted.... Luke 10:40. She was missing the good part. Mary made a wiser choice. Anytime someone is in your home there will be some serving. The difference is in the word “much.” But it goes beyond that to criticizing what others are doing. Martha is missing out on something great - Jesus is sitting in her house. Distraction comes in many forms - getting too wrapped up in our job, or our schoolwork. It could even be for what we do at the building, men. Are you always the one standing in the back rather than sitting with your wife and family? That’s a distraction. It’s a good thing for sure, but is it the best thing? Jesus says there is one thing that is most important and that is a kingdom focus, a spiritual focus. We decide to put God first.
2. Self-pity. “Do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone?” Martha actually says that to Jesus. Let that sink in. She is too focused on self. No one gets what I am going through. She failed to realize that her concerns are not the greatest concerns. We get so focused on what others should be doing we lose sight of what’s really important. If you don’t like what’s happening, it’s time to change something, to do something. It’s ok to voice our concerns but when it turns inward is when it becomes a problem.
3. Anxiety. “You are anxious and troubled...”. All of these things are connected and build upon each other. Not sure any of us would say that, He is the Son of God after all. Anxiety and worry are a hindrance to good decision making. The scariest part of this whole story is how Martha looks down on Mary. All these things, distraction, self -pity, anxiety have given her the wrong perspective.
4. Altered perspective. Jesus says there is one thing. At this moment it is sitting at Jesus feet and listening because that has spiritual implications. Everything else in life centers around the one thing that is necessary. The decision is not is this thing good, it is is this the most important thing I can do at this moment. It’s about gaining proper perspective, about what matters most in life. One thing is necessary, all the rest are just details