My dear Martha, you are upset over all these details! There is really only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it – and I won’t take it away from her (Luke 10:41-42 NLT).
Martha is all worked up about something. She welcomes Jesus and his disciples into her home and is busy preparing food for the guests. But where is Mary? Not in the kitchen, but sitting at the feet of Jesus listening to his teaching. She should have been helping her sister. That was the expected thing to do. In fact, the guests looking on probably thought “shame on you young lady, sitting there while your sister does all the work”. The reputation of the family was at stake and Martha knew it. She protests to Jesus who she fully expects to support her cry for justice. “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me”(10:40 NLT) – a reasonable and fair request. But Jesus does not relegate Mary back to the kitchen as everyone present probably expected. Instead he tells Martha not to be “worried and upset over many things” (10:41 NIV). What Mary is doing is not going to be taken away from her. She has discovered something. Something every one of us must also discover.
Jesus responds to Martha by taking her attention off the food preparations and on to something far more important. Martha has the right desire – she wants to do Jesus good. She wants to care for him. She wants to provide for him. But what she does not know is that He wants to provide for her. It is so easy for any of us to be busy doing good and important things, but making the mistake of limiting our vision to our own understanding. Jesus is giving Martha a bigger view of what is really important. Mary has discovered it and Jesus wants Martha to discoverer it too.
What Mary discovers here is something God wanted the children of Israel to learn during their journey through the wilderness. God says “Remember how the Lord your God led you through the wilderness for forty years, humbling you and testing you to prove your character, and to find out whether or not you would really obey his commands. Yes, he humbled you by letting you go hungry and then feeding you with manna, a food previously unknown to you and your ancestors. He did it to teach you that people need more than bread for their life; real life comes by feeding on every word of the Lord” (Deut.8:2-3 NLT). The Amplified Bible says “…..that He might make you recognise and personally know that man does not live by bread only, but man lives by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord” (8:3) Martha is naturally concerned about feeding the people in her house. Jesus is also feeding the people – not with natural bread, but bread from heaven.
God provided for the people of Israel on a daily basis. They were dependant on him. We are dependant on him for our daily bread too. People do not live on bread only – we need it, but that is not all we need. We need every word that proceeds from God’s mouth. Notice that the scripture says that His word proceeds (present tense) and is needed daily. We cannot rely on a word that proceeded in the past or expect to survive on a meal we had last week. We cannot expect other people to eat for us. Without taking food for ourselves, we will die from hunger. Just the same way, and even more so, our life depends on God. We take His word in to sustain us and we cannot survive any other way. Mary discovered it. Jesus is helping Martha to discover it too. What about you? You are invited to sit where Mary sat.
Have you discovered it?
“Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and your soul will delight in the richest of fare” (Isaiah 55:2 NIV).
Jenni Hurn has been married to Richard for 22 years and they have three boys: Chris, Jonathan and Jeremy. They attend church at ‘The Rock’ in Wellington, New Zealand. Jenni has been a Christian for 25 years and enjoys studying the scriptures and sharing with others what she discovers.