But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.”
Martha had invited Jesus into her home and then she began all the preparation needed for a big meal for their guest of honor. Her sister Mary chooses to sit at Jesus’ feet and listen to him teach. When Martha begins to feel overwhelmed with her meal preparations she asked Jesus to get Mary to come and help her. That is when Jesus says, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.” Jesus clearly rebuked Martha and upheld Mary for sitting to listen to his teaching.
So I wonder, is he saying that we should spend all day meditating and reading Scripture and not doing any of those menial tasks it takes to serve a group as large as Jesus and his disciples? Is he saying that real hospitality is not preparing a meal for our guests, but sitting down to visit and listening to them? Hmm. We have to keep in mind that Martha did not have a local restaurant she could call on the phone for an order to go meal. On top of that, I’m pretty sure that meal preparation took a bit longer in their day than in ours. We also need to keep in mind that it was a pretty special event to have Jesus visit in your home. He would not be available every day to teach this family. His visit was indeed a very special event.
Martha saw it as a time to prepare a banquet meal for him and thank him for raising her brother Lazarus from the dead, and Mary saw it as a time to sit at Jesus feet and learn all she could from him. They each seem to be responding to his visit in the way that seemed appropriate for each of them. It’s just that Martha’s tasks kept growing the longer she worked on them.
Perhaps Jesus is trying to get Martha to see that some things are more important than cooking a fancy meal to celebrate his presence. She needed to know more about him and what he was calling her to be and do as his disciple. So perhaps he is merely saying to Martha, there is a time for everything, and his time with them was a special time where they could come to know him and how he called them as disciples. They would not be privileged to that opportunity very long or perhaps ever again?
I don’t know about you, but I know that I have missed many opportunities to sit at the feet of Jesus feet when I put off my daily Bible study time for something else. Many times I considered that it was more important to cook a meal for my guests, or chose to go to the store for some needed items, or got wrapped up in a book I wanted to finish. Whatever the something else was, it interfered with my time with Jesus.
- Have you ever missed a worship service on Sunday to do something else you really felt you should do?
- Have you ever not done your daily Bible reading for some other thing that you chose to do instead?
- In what other ways do we need to see the need to prioritize Jesus above other commitments?
Eric is our current Webmaster and works on the NLS Communications Team. Raised in Judaism, he found Christ and the New Testament at age 16 in a Southern Baptist Church. He searched many denominations for the real church, only to find the Holy Spirit is present in all of them. He's worked for One for Israel, a group of native Israeli believers who are sharing the gospel in the holy land in Hebrew and is part of the only Hebrew speaking seminary in Israel.