When your service to the Lord becomes a chore, it ceases being a labor of love. When your service for the Lord becomes an obligation or duty, it loses its fragrance. When your service for the Lord causes you to question the motive of others, it leads to resentment and complaining. Let’s read.
“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. Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what He taught. But 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.” But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”
Luke 10:38-42 NLT
I wonder how often Jesus and His disciples visited with Martha’s family? And I wonder if this was the first time that she has complained, or if this is the first time we’re hearing about it. Fair questions. The King James and NIV translations and others, have Jesus saying her name twice, so in my mind I’m saying without adding to scripture. “ Martha, Martha, are we going to have this conversation again?” Well, whether this was the first time or not, the gentle rebuke of Jesus was not intended to insult or humiliate her, but to get her refocused on how she chose to spend her time, whenever He visited.
In the Middle Eastern countries, hospitality is paramount to a great friendship. This is why Jesus had this exchange with Simon
“One of the Pharisees asked Jesus to have dinner with him, so Jesus went to his home and sat down to eat. When a certain immoral woman from that city heard he was eating there, she brought a beautiful alabaster jar filled with expensive perfume. Then she knelt behind Him at His feet, weeping. Her tears fell on His feet, and she wiped them off with her hair. Then she kept kissing His feet and putting perfume on them. When the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, He would know what kind of woman is touching Him. She’s a sinner!” Then Jesus answered his thoughts. “Simon,” He said to the Pharisee, “I have something to say to you.” “Go ahead, Teacher,” Simon replied. Then Jesus told him this story: “A man loaned money to two people—500 pieces of silver to one and 50 pieces to the other. But neither of them could repay him, so he kindly forgave them both, canceling their debts. Who do you suppose loved him more after that?” Simon answered, “I suppose the one for whom he canceled the larger debt.” “That’s right,” Jesus said. Then He turned to the woman and said to Simon, “Look at this woman kneeling here. When I entered your home, you didn’t offer Me water to wash the dust from My feet, but she has washed them with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You didn’t greet Me with a kiss, but from the time I first came in, she has not stopped kissing My feet. You neglected the courtesy of olive oil to anoint My head, but she has anointed My feet with rare perfume.”
Luke 7:36-46 NLT
Simon did not acknowledge Jesus for who He was. He saw Him no differently than anyone else. He even ignored the hospitality normally shown to an invited guest. Wow!
The guest was not only greeted and treated well, you gave deference to them. They had your undivided attention, why? They’re your guest. Granted, and in Martha’s defense, it seemed like they showed up unannounced, so she was scrambling to prepare a meal for thirteen guests. But this wasn’t just any guest, this was Jesus, their friend and Teacher. He could eat, but He could easily have supernaturally provided a feast if need be. What He was hoping Martha would learn from His visits, is what was important not just for the physical needs but the spiritual. He wanted her to discover what Mary had, that time at His feet, feasting on His Words, would later prove to be invaluable. He called that decision. The better part.
Question for you? How much time and I’m not speaking of chronos, or the time on your watch, how much time do you spend in fellowshipping and communing with Jesus? Fellowship cannot be measured in time, because it is an ongoing process, even when you’re asleep. This is why we can dream His dreams and receive His visions, seamlessly. Mary’s posture represents a seeking heart. A heart that as psalm 42 puts it.
“As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?”
Psalms 42:1-2 KJV
She couldn’t get enough. His Words, as we too have discovered, creates a desire and a hunger for more. Busyness creates a different type of thirsting. It needs attention, it requires that everyone stops what they’re doing to acknowledge how hard they’re working. It makes us accuse those around us of being uncaring. “Lord don’t you care?” Don’t you see that I’m the only one who cares that you and the disciples are fed? First of all did you hear them ask for food? But it’s a cultural thing. Remember when the disciples came back to find Jesus talking with the woman at the well in John 4? What was their response to Him about the harvest? “Jesus eat something.” It’s always about food. It’s one of the ways that they demonstrate that they care. When I went to Israel, everywhere we went, there was a delicious spread. They were so excited about feeding us. It was a part of the welcome.
How did Jesus respond. “My meat is to do the will of My Father.” That’s the better part that Mary discovered. She had found bread for her hunger and water for her thirsting. Martha was missing out because of the culture. Are we doing the same thing today? We’ve become so absorbed by what CNN and Fox News have to say, that we have no time to sit at His feet. The news comes on before we open the Good News. Martha, Martha, you have become too distracted by COVID, your finances, your political leanings, your bottom line and relationships, but few things are needed. Prayer, fellowship and Bible study. But you’re missing it. So don’t be jealous when I begin to pour out blessings on the Mary’s of this life. They have chosen the better part, and it will not be taken away by sickness, lack or lockdowns.
You can always tell the believers who have chosen the better part. Their words are full of faith, they’re walking in peace and victory. They’re full of joy even in the midst of uncertainty. They’re blessed to be a blessing, their confession hasn’t changed not one bit. They’re living the Word, receiving the manifestation simply because they chose to sit. Nothing shakes the sitter at Jesus’ feet. What we have found in the stillness prepares us for whatever may come. That showed itself when Martha met Jesus after her brother’s death.
“Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met Him: but Mary sat still in the house. Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it Thee. Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again. Martha saith unto Him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day. Jesus said unto her, I Am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in Me shall never die. Believest thou this? She saith unto Him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world. And when she had so said, she went her way, and called Mary her sister secretly, saying, The Master is come, and calleth for thee.”
John 11:20-28 KJV
You need to get a sanctified imagination to read the exchange. I don’t believe for one minute that she was calm. She was angry and disappointed in her “friend “ who waited four days before showing up. She didn’t get to know Him. She was always too busy to sit. Now look at Mary’s reaction.
“Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw Him, she fell down at His feet, saying unto Him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.”
John 11:32 KJV
She knew Him! She used the same words, but she wasn’t angry, she chose the posture of worship. Sitters at Jesus’ feet don’t blame and accuse, they acknowledge and affirm the truth you know. Martha, Martha. Are you Martha or Mary? Do you blame and accuse? Or do you acknowledge and affirm? When you fellowship with Him, you get to know Him. Worshippers know some things, casual servants do things. Things they’ll forget as soon as trials come. Sitters will be remembered, because they’re unforgettable. The woman at Simon’s house brought her worship, poured it out on Him, Mary did the same thing when she broke her alabaster box and filled the room with the fragrance of her worship after her brother had been raised from the dead. What was Martha doing?
“Six days before the Passover celebration began, Jesus arrived in Bethany, the home of Lazarus—the man He had raised from the dead. A dinner was prepared in Jesus’ honor. Martha served, and Lazarus was among those who ate with Him.”
John 12:1-2 NLT
She still hadn’t learned how to sit. But it was Mary’s fragrance of worship that filled the room. Yes, I know. Someone had to cook. We all have our roles to play. But while you’re busy serving, don’t neglect what is needful. Jesus acknowledged the cultural importance of entertaining, He called that the few things that are needed. But clarified His statement by saying, finding or choosing the better part, guarantees that it “His Word “ will never be taken away.🙏
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.””
Luke 10:41-42 NIV
Written by permission of the Holy Spirit
March 24, 2021