38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 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!” 41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one.[a] Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
Prayer: God, as we have gathered together this night, help us remember and focus on what is important and essential and let the rest fall away. Help us to fix our eyes, hearts and minds on you and fill us with your Spirit so that we might be led according to your will. Amen.
I don’t know about you, but the start of the school year is a crazy time for our family.
There just seems to be more than there is time to do.
It is a time of year where I particularly identify with Martha.
Martha who welcomes company into her house – and of course not just any company, but Jesus! – and she expects her sister to help.
But instead, Mary just sits there and soaks in what Jesus has to say.
When she can no longer stand it, Martha’s frustration boils over and she asks Jesus to make her sister help her.
Instead of chastising Mary, Jesus instead explains to Martha (I like to think gently) that Mary has chosen correctly.
And while it would be easy to simply leave it at that, that Mary got it right and Martha got it wrong. I don’t think that is what we are supposed to take from this passage.
Jesus isn’t saying that inaction is better than action; that listening is better than doing. What Jesus is really trying to do is clarify where our priorities should be.
Jesus was primarily concerned with relationships. In this instance, in this culture that placed an incredibly high value on hospitality. What Jesus was saying is that being with someone and being there for them is of a higher value and is a higher priority that what you do for them.
Our relationship with God isn’t based on what we give to God or do for God and, although Jesus saving act on the cross is central, our relationship with God is first based on WHO God is. And who we are able to be because of who God is.
Everything that we know about God – including his willingness to send Christ to live and die for us – flows out of who he is. All that we do – all that we are able to do – and all that we can become is in response to who God is.
To get at who God is we must be willing to first sit and the feet of Jesus and listen.
That is why Mary chose the better thing.
Jesus is saying that he has to be first.
Knowing the person of Jesus Christ has to be the highest priority thing that we do. It has to come first in our lives.
When we put Jesus first, then that relationship and the person of Jesus Christ can be the only thing. Because it, because Jesus is enough.
When we make Jesus the first thing in our lives all that we need to be and everything that we need to do flows naturally out of and from Jesus and our relationship with him through the Holy Spirit.
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