Dinner Can Wait

Luke 10:38-42
Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house.
And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word.
But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me.
And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things:
But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.

Last week I sat in on the Sunday school class at the church my in-laws attend. Luke 10:38-42 came into active discussion.

It’s the famous story of Mary and Martha. Many sermons have been devoted to it, no doubt scolding Martha for being the bad girl.

But did Jesus say she was?

Martha was preoccupied with serving. She knew she had a very special guest, and she likely wanted to make sure things were done right and well. Who can fault her for that?

After all, she was serving the Lord, wasn’t she? Thus, she complained and asked Jesus to tell Mary to help her.

Mary was at Jesus’ feet, hearing His word. Jesus told Martha that “one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”

So what do we take from this? Is Jesus saying Mary is superior because she was hearing the word of God? Was Martha inferior because she wasn’t listening in?

Let’s put things in context. Suppose you have guests coming over for supper at 6:30. They’re expecting a meal. But what if you conduct a Bible study instead with no meal to accompany it?

Wouldn’t your guests be surprised? They might be disappointed and upset. They might not ever come back.

Obviously, it’s not that teaching the Bible is a bad thing. It’s just that your guests would be expecting a meal. That’s what they thought was supposed to happen at 6:30.

The account of Mary and Martha is a different setting. Jesus was only on the earth for a short time. It was a rare and special treat to hear the word spoken directly from Him.

So many times we read the Gospels and think every story must apply directly to us. Much of the Bible is for us, but not necessarily to us. In this instance, we need to consider the bigger picture.

Yes, being busy and preoccupied without taking time for God’s word isn’t good for us. And sometimes we think we’re serving the Lord, but maybe what we’re doing isn’t how He wants to be served. We should check with Him first.

In the account of Mary and Martha, we need to see what’s not said. Jesus didn’t say Martha’s desire to serve was bad.

In fact, He shows us He knew exactly what was on her heart when He made His reply to her. Isn’t that encouraging and comforting? Whenever we get bogged down with what we think is right, He knows what’s on our hearts and minds as well.

Jesus didn’t say she shouldn’t have been focused on service. It’s just that Mary was taking in His word, which was the better thing to do right then because of His short time among mankind.

Having said all that, maybe He was simply saying to Martha that dinner can wait.

Explore posts in the same categories: Christian Life, Helping Others, Thoughts from John


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