Life’s Necessary Thing

by Jon W. Quinn

Jesus had three friends who lived in Bethany. He would occasionally stay in their home when He was in Judea. Lazarus, Mary, and Martha were brothers and sisters. They lived together in the same house. Bethany was located on the eastern slope of the Mount of Olives on the road linking Jerusalem to Jericho. It was just over a mile and a half from Jerusalem. It would have been a very convenient place for Jesus and His fellow Galileans to stay when visiting Jerusalem for a feast day or on some other occasion. Also, its proximity to the garden of Gethsemane should be noted. Though we only have the record of the Lord's final visit to Gethsemane for prayer and His subsequent arrest there, we know that it was a favorite place of His while in the Jerusalem area.

Martha serves while Mary listens to Jesus' teachings - Luke 10:38-40

On one occasion, Martha was busy in the kitchen preparing a meal for her guests while Jesus was teaching those who had gathered in her home. The Scripture says, "And she had a sister called Mary, who moreover was listening to the Lord's word, seated at His feet. But Martha was distracted by all her preparations; and she came up to Him and said, 'Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me" (Luke 10:39,40).

Both Mary and Martha were disciples of Jesus. These two women deal with Jesus' visit in two different ways. It is certainly important to observe something just now: it was not an either/or proposition for them or us. We do not have to choose between worshiping the Lord like Mary or serving the Lord like Martha. Neither does there need to be such a conflict between our physical or secular needs and our spiritual growth. Sadly, that is exactly what many believers end up with.
A careful reading of the context shows that Mary had been in the kitchen with Martha until Jesus started teaching. Note Martha said that her sister had left her alone to do all the serving.

But Jesus knew that neither Mary nor Martha could live by bread alone (Matthew 4:4). It was now time to digest some spiritual bread and feed the soul. Martha was being distracted from her soul's needs by other things. The other things, in this case, are not bad. Sometimes, even good things can fill up our lives to the point where we neglect our souls. God has not blessed us with our families, friends, jobs, abilities, and other gifts to give us an excuse to abandon a close walk with Him.

"But the Lord answered and said to her, 'Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things" (Luke 10:41). Anxiety is a killer. Many of the physical and mental ills of our present day are stress-related. I can well imagine Martha "stewing" for a time in the kitchen (where else would you stew?) before being emboldened to charge into the room in such a way. And certainly, the Lord does care, but not nearly as much about the problem as Martha sees it as He does about the real problem of which Martha is unaware. The Lord is more concerned about Martha's state of mind and priorities than He is about being served a feast later. Where faith grows, anxiety lessens.

"...but only a few things are necessary, really only one, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken from her" (Luke 10:42). The good part that Mary had chosen was to listen to the Lord's teaching. In the final scheme of things, the things Jesus said that day were of much more importance than what He ate. If we are so hassled by the routines of daily existence that we find ourselves lashing out at those we love as Martha did on that occasion, then is not that a good indication that something needs to be fixed?

Print Friendly, PDF & Email