Encounters with Jesus: Two Sisters

Luke gives us another brief account of an incident that has much to teach us.

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.  Luke 10:38, 39

Martha and Mary, along with their brother, Lazarus, were good friends of Jesus.  I’m sure Jesus enjoyed catching up with them, and Martha’s hospitality was legendary.  What a privilege to prepare a meal for Jesus!  Martha could exercise her God-given gifts and Jesus could enjoy a good, home-cooked meal after time on the road.  What could go wrong?

Well, it seems that Martha, like many of us, didn’t quite know how or where to stop!  The next four words hold the key to this incident and the lesson it teaches us: 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!”  v.40

Let’s note, Martha was doing a good thing!  The preparations “had to be made.”  And her motives, I’m sure, were honourable.  She just got carried away; and in the process lost her perspective.  With her focus firmly fixed on the task at hand, she storms into where Jesus and Mary are conversing.  She suggests that the sister she loves is lazy and their kind friend is uncaring for allowing Mary to leave all the work to her!  (In a calmer moment, I doubt Martha would ever say either of these things.)  Jesus’ reproof is quite gentle: “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things,  but few things are needed—or indeed only one.  Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”  vss.  41,42

How often do we find ourselves – needlessly – “worried and upset about many things;” and consequently miss the one thing that is vitally important?  Martha was doing a good thing, but Mary chose what was better.  Just imagine: the privilege of a one to one personal conversation with the Creator and Saviour of the universe!  What would we give for the chance to sit where Mary sat that day?

Of course, that privilege is ours; and the risen, ascended Jesus is waiting for us to come and sit at his feet.  How often do we allow the distraction of countless other things to crowd out this time with him?  What could ever be more important?

For Reflection and Prayer:

  • Am I, by personality, more like Martha or Mary?
  • What would Jesus say to me about my current priorities?
  • What am I allowing to gobble up time I could spend with Him?
  • How will I better allocate my time today? This week?
(Written by Alan Akers)

 SongHe Giveth More Grace  by The Living Stones Quartet (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hzhKGPireAA)