When I woke up, I found myself enjoying a quiet house. I did not turn on the TV, check text messages from overnight, or scroll through the morning’s most recent Facebook posts. Instead, I did what I should do more often. Wrapped in my Tampa Bay Buccaneers blanket, kicked back in my recliner, I opened my Bible and searched for a good starting point to begin reading.
I ended up in the Book of Luke. I started reading in Chapter 6 instead of 1 and read through 10. Chapter 10 is where I found the message I apparently needed and the one I want to share with you. I say ‘apparently’ since I was not looking for anything in particular. However, the significance of verses 40-42 did not escape me… this time.
Luke 10:40-42 (KJV)
40: But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? Bid her therefore that she help me.
41: And Jesus answered and said unto her, “Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things:
42: But one thing is needful; and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”
These verses were very familiar to me. I had read them many times before, yet was receiving new revelation from them. Based on our life experiences and circumstances, we can gain fresh insight and guidance from the most familiar of scriptures. This is why the Bible will be forever relevant. We are continually learning and growing in our understanding.
It seemed somewhat evil to Martha that Mary would leave her to do all of the prep work of hosting their special guests. She was so bothered by it that she took the matter to Jesus. I’m sure the response she received was not what she had hoped for. She fully anticipated Jesus would back her up and send Mary to the kitchen!
We can safely imagine the scene:
Martha: pulling vegetables from the garden out back, dicing them to cook; preparing the meat that would be served; setting the table; picking fresh flowers for a centerpiece; kneading dough to put in the oven so they could have freshly baked bread with their meal; sweeping flour off the kitchen floor; serving beverages while dinner was cooking, etc.
Mary: sitting at Jesus’ feet and listening to every word He spoke. (Luke10:39)
Martha desperately wanted Mary to assist her with the myriad of tasks she was trying to handle on her own. In her way of thinking, this was the right thing for her sister to do. But Jesus’ answer to Martha was quite the contrary. In no uncertain terms, He let Martha know it was Mary who was doing what was right. Mary had “chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her”.
I can see where Martha may have been a little miffed at her sister; she was doing a lot of work by herself. Why then would Jesus tell the
overwhelmed Martha it was Mary who had “chosen that good part”?
This made me ponder a couple different reasons:
1. Was this Jesus’ way of telling Martha that she, too, should have “chosen that good part” (sitting with Jesus)?
2. Could it be that the spiritual food Jesus was serving (the Word of God) was more essential to living than the natural food Martha was preparing?
I would have to say “yes” to both of these reasons. What does the story of Martha and Mary have to do with you and me today?
Men and women alike can easily become so bogged down with the issues of life that we neglect to spend time with Jesus, sitting at His feet
and absorbing the Word of God which is the essential spiritual food we require. Women, in particular, devote themselves to the cares of all
around them, sometimes to the detriment of themselves. Making their house a home for their family, being dedicated to their jobs, participating in school events with their children as well as their extra-curricular activities, serving on committees at church, and being involved with social organizations simply does not leave much time to sit with Jesus and feast on the Word of God.
We have allowed life to keep us busy to the point we, with a clean conscience, justify why we have not opened our Bible in days or weeks. In so doing, we have not “chosen that good part.” Concerning ourselves with the affairs of the world more than nurturing our relationship with God by feasting on His Word has become comfortable to us. The importance of God’s Word in our life is stated quite plainly in Matthew 4:4: “But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” We cannot live by the Word if we don’t know it. It’s impossible to learn the Word without spending time in it.
The bread Martha may have been baking for dinner would have satisfied everyone’s physical needs temporarily. What Jesus was offering would satisfy them all the days of their lives. He helped Martha understand the matters she busied herself with were great, but there was only one thing that was “needful” and that was the Word of God. Mary received something from Jesus which “could not be taken away,” but the food Martha focused on providing would only give temporary fulfillment.
Martha was presented the same opportunity as Mary; she just made a different choice. Jesus said “Mary hath chosen that good part,” which implies Martha had not. Martha chose cooking; Mary chose feasting. Look what happened as a result of their choices. Martha became overwhelmed and ended up feeling discontent with her sister which lead to strife. Mary, however, was at peace.
There are many lessons to be learned from this story. Here are just a couple of them:
Lesson #1: We cannot get mad at other people when we see their content state, especially if we are not willing to do what they are doing to possess it.
Lesson #2: Mary understood who was in her presence and took advantage of the opportunity to glean knowledge. We have to be careful not to miss our chances of gaining wisdom because we are in frenzy, worrying over the wrong things.
What is taking our focus away from “that good part”? Do we spend enough time (or any) feasting on the Word of God? These are questions each of us should ask ourselves from time to time, especially when we are feeling overwhelmed like Martha.
Strength, encouragement, guidance, wisdom, direction, understanding, peace, hope, faith, revelation, and more are all derivatives of time spent in the Word. Choose to feast from time to time!