Today and tomorrow, Lord willing, we will focus on the passage from Luke 10:38-42 about Martha and Mary, especially that Martha was “distracted with much serving.” The illustration above was done by my daughter, Lindsay. Great work, Linz!
“Hey, Jesus! Don’t you see I’m busy working my fingers to the bone here in the kitchen all by myself? Don’t you care that I’m feverishly trying to take care of all these guests? Mary is not helping me; I mean…she isn’t doing anything. She is just sitting there on the floor listening to you. Why can’t you tell her to get her tail here in the kitchen to help me? You see, Jesus, my “ministry” is service and hospitality, and I’m trying my best to make sure that everything is just right so that everyone’s needs are met. But Jesus, I can’t do this all alone. There are meals to prepare, breads to bake, tables to set, drinks to fill, and dishes to do. Tell her to get in here and do something!”
The above words are merely my paraphrase, so please read Luke 10:38-42 to see how the Holy Spirit through Luke records the actual conversation between Martha and Jesus.
“Martha welcomed Him into her house.” Martha was hospitable, that was her gift and her passion, and that is a good thing. In fact, God expects every single believer (including men) to be hospitable and to serve others. As God’s people we are all to use our homes and resources to share with others, especially with the less fortunate (Romans 12:13; Hebrews 13:2,16).
Martha was a servant, a doer, and it seems that she had a very practical, no-nonsense personality about her. These are great character and personality traits and are very useful in the kingdom of God. She wanted to make sure that everyone was comfortable and well fed. This is not the only time we find Martha serving guests and using her gifts of hospitality (see John 12:2). We are very thankful for the Martha’s in our lives. They get the job done, don’t they?
So what’s the problem? Isn’t Martha doing what she was supposed to be doing? Is that not what Jesus had been preaching about all along? Even Jesus said to be greatest in His kingdom, you had to be the servant of all. At one point He asked His disciples, “For who is greater, he who sits at the table, or he who serves? Is it not he who sits at the table? Yet I am among you as the One who serves” (Luke 22:27). Martha had that very heart, the heart of a servant, so Jesus was by no means correcting her for trying to serve others and to take care of others’ needs.
“Martha was distracted with much serving.” What did Luke say? What was distracting Martha? Much serving. You see men, Martha was not being pulled away by evil pursuits; she was just trying to be a servant to others. She was so involved in serving that she lost perspective on the reason for the gathering. The dinner became the focus instead of the feast Jesus was offering. This is a vital point in the text here. She was not getting distracted with indulgence in sinful pleasure; she was getting sidetracked while using her gifts and talents that God had given her. The Scripture records that these things had become a “distraction” for her.
“Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things.” Martha, Martha. Remember that Jesus loved Martha just as much as He loved Mary and Lazarus (John 11:5). Martha wanted more than anything to please her Lord, and it is clear from other passages in Scripture that she had a strong faith in God and a clear understanding of who Jesus was and what He was teaching (Please see John 11:20-27).
Martha was a dedicated servant to Jesus, but she lost her focus. Jesus, in His tenderness and patience, called Martha back to (#1) reality and (#2) perspective.
Here is the reality – Martha was worried and troubled over a lot of stuff. She was worried about the guests. She was troubled over all the preparations. Sadly, she got all worked up over what she considered to be Mary’s lack of involvement. And here’s the kicker – she was really bothered by her assumption that Jesus did not even seem to care that Mary had left her alone to serve all these guests!
Here is the perspective – Mary had chosen the good part. Mary was not lazy. Mary was not un-hospitable. Mary was not less interested in taking care of others. She, as Jesus said, had chosen to focus on the most important and pressing thing at the time, and that was to listen to what Jesus was saying. Both Mary and Martha “approached” Jesus, but for very different reasons. Mary sat at His feet to listen to what He had to say, but Martha wanted to tell Jesus what to do.
More on this tomorrow, men. Meditate upon this. May we as men in the world today think about what Jesus taught Martha.