“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.[f] Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10.38-42
Do the stories of Jesus ever get old? I’ve read this encounter with Jesus, Mary and Martha dozens of times but I continue to find encouragement from this lesson. I confess, I am a “Martha.” I like to work and do so sometimes in order to avoid human encounters! But Mary was resolved to sit at the feet of Jesus and was happy about it.
When Jesus came to Bethany, he came to the house of the sisters because Martha “opened her home to him.” It wasn’t Mary who saw the need and opened her home. It was Martha. So, the disciples and Jesus come to the house with the hospitality Martha provided to the rabbi. But Jesus was in the home, teaching and talking, and Mary, who should have been up helping serve the guests, was just sitting literally at Jesus’ feet listening to his teaching.
As you know from the story, Martha was “distracted by all the preparations that had to be made.” She approached Jesus with boldness and said, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” Can you just imagine the look on her face when she approached Jesus with this request? It’s not that the preparations didn’t matter. Those things were good. But Mary, as Jesus told Martha, chose what was better. Jesus said to her, “Martha, Martha, 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.”
Now how did Martha respond? Did this set her heart at ease? Jesus spoke it so did she accept it? Or did she think, “That’s great Jesus, sitting with you is better but who’s going to prepare lunch?!”
I find myself judging between what is good and what is better or best. I have difficulty, like Martha did in that moment, moving between what is good for the cause and ministry and what is best. Sometimes I have to let the details of a ministry event “slide” and spend time with the people instead. Bottom line, sitting at the feet of Jesus is always better.
Last night we watched the first episode in Season One of “The Chosen.” I must admit that when (spoiler alert) Mary Madeline had her Jesus encounter, my breath caught and the tears came. He met her right where she was. And although I knew the story, I anticipated what was to come, seeing Jesus, in the flesh, loving people moved me deeply.
Doing what is better is being with Jesus. Whatever that looks like for you, however you understand time with Jesus — do it today. Sit at his feet. Listen to his voice. Hear his heart. Allow him to meet you where you are and speak to your soul today.
“O Lord God, you are good. As I sit here in a coffee shop in Waco, I know you are near. I wait upon you. I want the Jesus encounter that I see in others. Come now, Holy Spirit, fill me with your power and love. Help me be all that you have called and created me to be. By your grace and for your glory. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen