Mary and Martha, again?

Oh, how many times have I heard the story of Mary and Martha and how Mary “sat at Jesus’ feet” and Martha “busied herself with dinner preparations”. Well, this morning I was to hear it again when, as a part of our daily Bible readings, my husband and I read Luke 10: 38-42 together.

“As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. 39 Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. 40But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.”

41 But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! 42 There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Today as we finished reading it I said to my husband, “Why didn’t Jesus simply speak the dinner into being and then have Martha join Mary at His feet?” I had never thought of that before. Now that I have had time to think about it there were probably many reasons He did not do so, but I think it funny that I had never even considered the question before. It just goes to show you that you can never hear a Bible story too many times.

I chuckle when I say that because I can remember my second son when he was about 7 years old saying He didn’t need to go to Christmas Eve service because he had already heard that story many times and he knew it by heart. He even told me I could quiz him if I wanted to. I had an opportunity to talk to him about worship and how church can be a special time with Jesus. I talked to him about how he could talk with Jesus about things just he and Jesus knew and have a special quiet time together. Later in his college years when we were at the altar praying together he said to me, “Mom, you really like this stuff, don’t you? You ‘get off’ on this.” He was referring to our time of worship and prayer. I simply said, “Yes, I do.” and we continued to pray.

Mary was made to worship. It consumed her. Martha was made to worship, too, but she was also concerned with the everyday and getting done what needed to be done. I struggle with this. Is one better than the other? Jesus praised Mary. He rebuked Martha, but He didn’t rebuke her for doing the tasks, He rebuked her for worrying that the tasks would not get done. I can imagine Jesus thinking, “Martha, if you would just sit down here with us for a bit, we’ll all help you get dinner on the table.” OR, Consider this, if Martha had been singing as she was preparing dinner, making her preparations as onto the Lord (which they were, literally), perhaps Jesus would have accepted Martha’s joyful preparations as worship. He only spoke to her after she asked Him if He didn’t think Mary ought to help her. Then, she got what He thought! Some of us are wired to get tasks done first. For some of us relationship trumps tasks every time. Jesus says, “Seek FIRST the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and everything else will come.” Matthew 6:33. I think we all find different ways to put Him first, ways that fit the way we were created. Jesus accepts us as we are. What He won’t accept is our judging another’s way. Ouch!

Now is the time to worship,



7 comments on “Mary and Martha, again?

  1. Consumed with worship. . .! This just struck me today, Dawn. All of a sudden, all the scenes that I took part in, ones where I helped out at the dinners in church, in the kitchen, etc., and believe me, I wasn’t consumed with worship, but rather, worried about “many things.” As I’ve gotten older, I think that has either settled down some or I avoid those tasks that are “not my gifts.” Isn’t it amazing how we use that as an excuse so many times, when really, it is more a matter of the heart and WHO we do it for. Setting tables and washing dishes can be as much worship as breaking the alabaster box and washing His feet with our hair. It just depends on where our hearts are set. Today is a busy one for me. I will take this post with me, believe me. Thank you!

  2. Cora,

    This time reading through Luke 10, I was really changed. I do not have to see my work as an interrruption to my quiet time, but I can subsume my quiet time in my work. Viewing work as an interruption leads to frustration. I can see this reframing of work, not separating it from devotions or worship or prayer, as a key to living in the Now. If each moment is His and I live in each moment as if it were His, I will not long to get out of anything, but merely continue on in worship no matter where I am or what I am doing. Also, if the work is not going well and I am falling behind and it is piling up that is “unto the Lord” as well. What am I to learn through the pile-up? If this all is allowed by Creator God then what am I to do with it for the Kingdom? If I can keep this perspective within me as I meet the day, I can see where I would have a peace that passes understanding. Paul tells us we are to be “A living sacrifice…” Romans 12:1. I am just beginning to get what that means. This is the gratitude revolution. It is the slowing down of time, savored, as each task is done (or not done) “as onto the Lord’. I keep typing here, Cora, not necessarily as an answer to you, but the Lord is working this out in my mind as I respond to you. Thank you for “listening,” Dear Sister.

    Finding rest in the Beloved,

  3. There is always something new to be gleaned from this wonderful story. I find myself so much like Martha at times – sacrificing the better part so that I can get things done.
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this Dawn.

    • Dear Linda,

      This was such a renewal in my spirit when the Holy Spirit started to reveal things previously hidden from me when I read this story. I am SO glad to see you here. I am buoyed up by your visit. Thanks for leaving a comment. It was really fun in this community-never a dull moment. We even have a posting cat!
      My dog is snoring by my side, I think I’d better close and get some sleep,
      Praising God through the night,

  4. Like your son, I know this story by heart and have written numerous devotions on it BUT NEVER, EVER considered that He rebuked her for worrying that the tasks would not get done. What a huge comfort. And now I understand my joy when I prepare a holiday meal and my family gathers at the kitchen table to talk, share, visit, laugh and fellowship.
    Blessings on you, Dawn. You continue to help me grow in my faith.

    • Dear Liz,
      I nwver saw half the things I saw this last reading of Mary and Martha. All of a sudden, all these truths began jumping off the page at me. I was in what Danelle at would call the Lord’s post. She just taps the keys and He writes. This was one of those tHe posts. I’m glad you caught it. I LOVE when someone (especially a devotion writer) is blessed by my ramblings for I do SO enjoy sharing and growing in this community. Hugs to you Liz. It’s always good to see you’ve stopped by.


    • Dear Liz,

      I can see you in that kitchen of yours having the time of your life. For you, this may as well be the sanctuary of your church or a sacred site in Israel. You sing through meal preparation and really look forward to the occasion that prompts it! It’s holy groundle

      Let no one who delights in false humility or the worship of angels disqualify you. Such a one is puffed up with idle notions by their unspiritual mind. Colossians 2:18
      Good stuff, isn’t it, Liz. He sure help elevate the status of women when He wrote. THese verses I am reading from Colossians and then looking at Mary and Martha afresh today made me think of the movie Yentl with Barbra Steinsand as lead. Have you seen it?

      Take care and cast your cares on Him,

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