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“… Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” – Luke 10:38-42
In this passage, Jesus’ ministry is in full swing. He had just fed multitudes. At the beginning of this chapter, He sent out 70 believers out to go into the neighboring cities and tell them about the Messiah and heal them! Jesus comes into the town of Bethany after preaching the sermon of the Good Samaritan. I’m sure the crowd was thick, I’m sure a lot of people were vying for the attention of the Messiah. But Jesus zeroed in on two sisters: Martha and Mary.
Martha was excited, and she welcomed Jesus into her house. Imagine what it was like for Jesus Christ to pick you out of a city of people! But Martha goes into panic mode. She freaks out! The house isn’t clean enough, my dishes aren’t nice enough, Jesus won’t be comfortable enough. I’m not even sure if we have enough chairs. The Bible says Martha was cumbered about much serving. She was distracted and over-occupied.
If you look past the symptoms you would find that she felt like she was not enough for Jesus. She felt inadequacy, unworthiness, guilt, stress, and anxiety. Because of this, she was in the kitchen instead of like Mary at the feet of Christ. She was trying to make things better, clean things up, be presentable… instead of spending time with Jesus.
Martha’s guilt motivated her to pull the guilt card on Mary. Martha was feeling inadequate and she wanted Mary to feel the same way that she did. Martha threw Mary straight under that bus. She went right to Jesus and said “I am, doing everything and Mary is doing nothing, Jesus don’t you care about How much I’m doing for you. Jesus don’t you see everything that I am doing for you, Jesus don’t you love me more, Tell Mary to help me!”
From this passage I imagine Jesus stopping her mid-sentence. “Martha, Martha…” As if to calm her down. He stops her in the middle of her stress. “You are anxious and troubled about a lot of things… I know how you’re feeling, I know what you’re thinking… But you have missed the point.”
Jesus had come to that house to be with them. Jesus wanted to spend time with them, but all Martha could think about was that she hadn’t done enough, or hadn’t cleaned things up enough to please Jesus. She even tried to guilt Mary into doing what SHE thought was important, and pull her away from the most important thing, worshipping Jesus.
Well, what was Mary focused on? Later on in… John 12:2-3 “they gave a dinner for Jesus there. Martha served (classic Martha), and their brother Lazarus was one of those reclining with Jesus at the table. (Lazarus is their brother that was raised from the dead.) Mary, therefore, took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard (300 Denari a years wages), and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped his feet with her hair. The house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.”
Again we find Martha was serving supper but Mary worshipping at the feet of Jesus. Were there other things that she could be doing? Absolutely! But nothing was more important than spending time with Jesus. She wasn’t trying to impress Him with her deeds or pay Him back. She was willing to humiliate herself to show Him how much she appreciated Him. Jesus makes it clear that Martha was missing the one thing that was needful, the one thing that was necessary. Mary understood it but Martha didn’t get it.
If we are honest most of us are a lot like Martha. We are awesome at being stressed and feeling terrible about ourselves. Martha was distracted and worried about many things, but somehow Mary found the one thing that was needful – Spending time with Jesus.
We need to be careful that we are always focused on the thing that is most needful. Is that what you focused on today? Don’t be distracted by the “many things.” When was the last time you sat back and enjoyed God, as Mary did? God didn’t save you so that He could have another “being” obey Him.. any more than I had a son to have someone obey me. No, I desire a deep relationship with my son built on time, effort, and real love. God feels that way about you as well.
But instead of going confidently and boldly to God and asking for His grace to get back up when we fall, we try and patch ourselves up. We try to put ourselves back together so we can meet the status of “righteous” before God again. But since we can’t measure up to perfection, the more we try to earn righteousness, the worse we feel. It’s the cycle of condemnation. I feel bad, I feel I am bad, I work harder, I can’t live up… It is so much easier to believe we are sinners than that we are righteous, it’s so much easier to believe we are guilty than that we are now innocent. But as believers, you are already declared righteous, not through your actions but through Jesus. It’s a gift, and it’s called grace. It’s grace that is greater than all your sin! How much time do we waste as Jesus followers trying to recover what we had all along – God’s love.
“Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” – Luke 10:42
Stop focusing on feeling condemned and remind yourself that you are forgiven! Instead of being troubled about many things, worry about the one needful thing! Start your day thanking God for the forgiveness He has already granted you! How can you help but love and serve a God like that! Don’t get distracted by religion and miss Jesus! Don’t let guilt and “it’s not enough” rule your life, Christ is enough for the both of you! I know you have doubts about yourself, But choose to doubt your doubts, and believe Christ! Thank Jesus, welcome Him into your house, and spend some time at His feet.