For All the Marthas Out There
Inside: Does your to-do list get the better of you? Have you heard that you’re supposed to be a Mary in a Martha world? Have I got good news for you!
Luke 10:38-42 (ESV)
Martha and Mary
38 Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching.40 But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.”41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, 42 but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”
Digging into God’s Word
I have never liked this passage of scripture. Am I allowed to say that? Probably not. In my not-so-humble opinion, if Mary had helped Martha earlier in the day, Martha may not have been so resentful by the time Jesus arrived! I am smiling as I recall my own reactions that have been similar to Martha’s. The main point we’re usually taught from this passage is that time with Jesus is more important than anything else, and Mary chose the wiser path. We should all be Marys we are told: Be a Mary in a Martha world.
Yes, there is a lesson to learn from Mary and to apply to our work and home lives. Our scurrying can distract us from what is most important.
But what if you were born a Martha? What if of course you crave time with Jesus, but you are also a do-er and a go-er? What if when you read this account in the Bible, you sigh wearily under the heap of guilt one more time.
Do I have good news for you! And it’s not really me with the good news: It is Jesus who delivers it!
In the gospel of John, chapter 11, Mary and Martha send news to Jesus that their brother, and Jesus’ friend, Lazarus is ill. Tucked into that account is verse 5:
5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus.
Yeah, I bolded that. Despite Martha’s distracted worrying over things that mattered less than spending time with the Lord, a whole verse is taken in the Bible to tell us that Jesus loved her. He loved her!
After Lazarus died, and as Jesus was coming into town, Martha went out to meet Him. It is to Martha that Jesus spoke one of the most well-known promises in the Bible. I have bolded Jesus’ words and Martha’s faith-filled response below:
20 So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary remained seated in the house. 21 Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” 23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” 27 She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”
Martha, who has been criticized throughout history for being anxious and troubled, for hurrying and worrying over the less important things in life, knew and believed the truth. She had not really missed the important thing! It was Martha who had opened her home to Jesus, and her belief in Jesus as the Son of God was evident and bold.
Even before that expression of her faith, knowing all He knew about Martha, Jesus loved Martha.
And so He loves us–despite our worries and our failings, despite our misguided priorities, despite our overzealous to-do list. He loves us.
As you are able, spend time with God, reflecting on these questions or journaling your thoughts.
- What did you learn about Jesus in the passages from Luke and John that you had not known before? How does that help you today?
- In what areas of work and home life do you fall into the habit of being “anxious and troubled about many things” (Luke 10:41)? Give those to the Lord right now, and ask Him to help you release those burdens to Him.
- In John 11:27, Martha states her faith clearly. Take the time to think through your faith. Consider writing down a statement of faith. What questions does it bring to mind? What confirmations or affirmations do you see in it? Thank God for the faith He has worked in your life through the Holy Spirit!
I’m glad you are here!
- You can find all of the devotions for the series “All in a Day’s Work” at this link.
- Be sure to SIGN UP to have devotions delivered straight to your inbox on Mondays and Thursdays. I will never flood your inbox.
That was such a clever study! I had never thought about what happened “after” we read this passage. Loved that you pointed out that once again, though we are not perfect, God’s love is great.
Thank you! I also had not noticed Jesus’ evident love for Martha until studying this. I was so glad to find it, for the very reasons you mention. Jesus’ love for us is so wonderful.