We always talk about Martha like she is the antichrist of rest. It turns out that we get to ride-along on Martha’s discipling moment with the Lord Jesus, and it just might be the most important lesson any of us gets to learn or re-learn today or this week or this year…
38 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. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
Everyone gives Martha a hard time for fretting and stressing through life. Yeah, we’ll get to that. But before we do, notice who invited the Lord over. Martha opened her home to Jesus. Martha respected Jesus and was eager to show him hospitality.
Why is that important? Because a good and right relationship with God starts with welcoming him into your life and your home. Is God welcome in your life?
This is important even if you haven’t decided what to do with Jesus’ question from Luke 9:20: “But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” The importance of welcoming Jesus into your life is related to opening up yourself to get to know him. Then you can get to the space where he will challenge your ideas and assumptions about him.
In fact, once you are there, Jesus will confront your behaviour which demonstrates a lack of faith in someone bigger than yourself and which reinforces your self-importance and the issues you have becoming even bigger. Oh that sounds fun…
Martha was distracted, frustrated, worried, and upset. Go back up and read the text one more time. It’s a bit unclear what the drivers are in Martha’s life. Was she a perfectionist, bent on making sure that the meal she served Jesus was without flaw, and that led her into her anxiety? Was she an anxious person whose anxiety was playing out in her stress about even pulling off a meal for Jesus?
We give Martha a hard time, yet many of us wouldn’t even invite Jesus into our homes. For some reason, we think that when we invite people over they will wear white gloves and run their finger along the tops of door frames. We need to get over ourselves. Cold beer and a simple cheese plate will take everyone’s minds off your window sills. I kid you not.
Break the seal. Get over your anxiety. Invite someone. Invite Jesus.
To be fair to Martha, if she was anxious about even having any guest over, this may be the highlight of her life in terms of courage to overcome her fears. Maybe she deserves a medal. Yet we dump on her. Why? Because we think the Lord dumps on Martha, don’t we?
That’s part of our problem. When we see Jesus answer Martha, we see it as a rebuke which is negative and scolding. Remember, Jesus is speaking to the person who welcomed him into her home at a time when many people wouldn’t have. Others may have been worried about the authorities’ views of Jesus and whether they might be targeted for being one of Jesus’ followers. Jesus doesn’t scold his followers during discipleship. He disciples them.
Discipleship is the process of interacting and exchanging ideas on life with a goal of growing closer to Jesus in relationship,perspective, and lifestyle.
Jesus is discipling Mary and Martha here. Martha was still of the perspective that many, many things were necessary in order to relate to and please the Lord. We shouldn’t blame her. We’re like that too. We have esteem for a whole list of works-ish stuff that we think will please others and Jesus.
Jesus says, ‘maybe just one thing.’ Maybe you should just focus on one thing… Mary sat at Jesus’ feet and listened to him. She chose the better thing. Holy Wow… I totally do this, don’t you? We invite Jesus into our homes or our worship or our community group or our workplace or our lives, and then we busy ourselves with trying to impress him and we miss the most important thing.
We miss sitting at his feet listening to him.
We miss it because we are anxious or perfectionists or workaholics or we want to look good or hide our truth. We miss it. We owe Martha an apology, folks. Martha had a discipling moment with the Lord Jesus that we get to ride-along on to learn something for ourselves. And it might be the most important lesson any of us gets to learn or re-learn today or this week or this year.
Stop missing it: Sit down and listen at Jesus’ feet.