For a very long time I have struggled between getting down to the job of serving quickly over spending more time with reading, meditation and thoughts centred on the teachings of the Bible. How to resolve that? Revisiting the account in Luke 10 on Martha and Mary entertaining Rabbi Jesus as their guest raises a couple of questions rather than a simple answer.
Firstly, was Mary supposed to be sitting there at Jesus’ feet in the first place? Only the men get to have the privilege of entertaining guests. Sitting down to the meal – that was the men’s prerogative. The women’s role was to be in the kitchen. Also, if Martha sat down like Mary did, who would have prepared the meal for the invited guest? Secondly, I felt Martha’s pain – feeling the stress in serving and not get Rabbi Jesus to support her for what was expected of women.
From Jesus’ response, one thing was evident. Being is more important than doing. This lesson was evident from two observations of the account in Luke 10. Mary loved and adored Jesus. Nothing exceeded that. Does Jesus want to teach Mary and elaborate on ideas and details? She would be very excited to learn these ideas which come from Him. Jesus was a regular guest in the home of Martha, Mary and Lazarus in Bethany, very near to Jerusalem. Mary as an ardent disciple of Jesus must have spent long hours learning from the Master. She was spiritually hungry and her Rabbi and Master was ever keen to feed a hungry soul. Jesus as guest in the Bethany home was granted the best of adoration and service. Mary chose the one good thing, the good part, which shall not be taken from her. We often hear of lives being transformed by Christians who spent time in personal worship, reading and meditating on God’s Word, the Bible. Time spent in solitude with God and His Word can never be taken away from us. It will be like the proverbial ant that lays up its store for winter (Proverbs 6:6-8).
When Martha came to Jesus with her question, she heard His teaching exposing the thoughts and intentions of her heart. Observing Mary’s “slack” in hands-on service she harboured her unhappiness while going about her hands-on work. Really, Mary should know better. in giving hands-on service to Jesus. Impatient, Martha blurted out, revealing her smugness and anxiety. She came to Jesus and was honest in her plea with her question. Jesus replied to her and she heard His teaching about “the one thing” that will meet her real need. Jesus pointed to the distinction between religion and faith. Martha and all who hear Jesus’ teachings will realise He was clearing the notion of religiosity. God’s grace and mercy are not defined by our personal virtues and/or Christian service and work. What matters is God’s grace and mercy in the Gospel of Jesus. Once we do “the one thing” in worshipping Jesus, everything else we do in Christian service to Him becomes an overflow of love and worship as we abide daily in Him.