Picture this: your house is a mess, dinner isn’t ready and the Son of God is on His way over. This was the experience for Mary and Martha, as accounted in Luke 10. I’m sure we’ve all had this moment. However, the question: which sister do you relate to?
Upon hearing the news that Jesus was en route, Martha begins feverishly cleaning and cooking. Today, this might look like searching the pantry for what could be turned into hors d’oeuvres and re-stacking existing piles of mail and kids artwork into artistic, organized-looking stacks. Then, Jesus arrives and, taking just a moment to compose herself and sweep her bangs out of her face, Martha opens the door. But soon after, she’s back to her busywork.
Wait, what about Mary? Where is she this whole time?
We find Mary, according to Luke 10: 39, “at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.” We don’t see her worrying about the house’s upkeep or if dinner will be ready on time (or at all). Instead, we see her valuing time with the Lord. Akin to a sponge, Mary is soaking up everything Jesus has to say, which has Martha a bit frustrated, to put it kindly. So much so that she comes to Jesus to say, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” And Jesus’ response, as usual, is quick and to the point: “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 instantly, things are put into perspective.
Do you need this reality check? I do. I can easily find myself distracted with daily tasks instead of keeping focus on what’s important. For me, maybe instead of ensuring our house is in perfect order before our small group arrives, I ought to spend time re-reading the text and preparing my heart to teach. Maybe instead of blasting through my to do list, I ought to stop and pray and ask for God’s direction for my day. It may be different for each of us, but we all likely need to learn from Martha in slowing down and from Mary in finding ourselves more often at the feet of Jesus.