Mary and Martha
Reading: Luke 10 v. 38-42
Sermon Date: September 2nd
Share with each other how you balance the time you have in your life?
How much time is spent at work, with family & friends, at church, for yourself?
If the balance seems wrong, share ways in which you might re-balance your time, so that your life brings you joy, peace and love.
Please read Luke 10 v.38-42 together
This short passage is capable of being misread in a couple of ways. Firstly, it is not about women; it is a passage on discipleship. Its point is not that women can get too easily caught up in the busy work of keeping the home. What is said to Martha about Mary would be equally true if Mary were male or even a child. The fact that two women dominate the story would have been shocking in the first-century context, where men often dismissed women as marginal, but the account is designed to make a point about all disciples. Secondly, the point is not that activity like Martha's is bad. The choice Jesus discusses with Martha is between something that is good and something that is better. Life is full of tough choices, and Jesus is stressing the relative merits of good activities here. For conscientious people, such choices are often the most difficult and anxiety-filled.
Q: Why do you feel that we immediately feel that Mary is right and Martha is wrong?
Q: True hospitality is a gift that so often breaks down a divide, how can we be more intentional about offering it?
Jesus reaches all people, here he is with those whom he loved and called friends but in the previous few verses Jesus is offering space and hospitality to a Samaritan. The fact that Jesus commends Mary and has a meal with Martha shows that Jesus does not compare, he does not breed anxiety or discontent.
Q: Do you feel that you compare, or that we compare as a church?
Q: Does that ultimately bring anxiety and discontent?
Martha is not comfortable with Mary's approach to Jesus' visit, since she could use another hand in the kitchen. She requests Jesus' aid: "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me." We know that Martha's viewpoint is questionable not only because of Jesus' reply but also because the text says she makes the comment while being distracted by all the preparations. In the Greek she asks the question in such a way that Jesus is expected to give a positive answer. Jesus does care, and Martha fully expects him to tell Mary to get up and help!
But as is often the case when Jesus is asked to settle a dispute, he refuses to side with the one who asks
that, things be decided in a particular way (compare Luke 12:13; John 8:4-7).
Yet he responds tenderly and instructs in the process. In a commentary I read, it said that the double address "Martha, Martha" indicates the presence of caring emotion, as such an address does elsewhere (6:46; 8:24; 13:34; 22:31). Jesus questions her not because of her activity but because of her attitude about it: "You are worried and upset about many things." By comparing what she is doing to what Mary is doing, she has injected unnecessary anxiety into the visit. "Only one thing is needed." With this remark Jesus sets priorities. "Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her."
Q: If you place yourself into the scene, which person would you have been?
Q: What do you feel would be the ‘better’ way?
To spend some of our time to be still and listen is so important.
To spend some of our time offering hospitality is so important.
The language of the passage recalls Deuteronomy 8:3, have a look. In a sense Mary is preparing to partake in the "right meal" (Deuteronomy 6:1-9). What Martha offers will be her way of showing Jesus love. What Mary has done by sitting at Jesus' feet will remain with her. This meal that she feeds up, will last. Jesus is not so much condemning Martha's activity as commending Mary's. He is saying that her priorities are in order. To disciples Jesus says, "Sit at my feet and devour my teaching. There is no more important meal."
The path to peace begins with one thing, a relationship with God and with others. There can be no greater way than the command Jesus gives:
‘Love the Lord your God, with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind and secondly love your neighbour as yourself’
Q: Can we balance our lives so that we have time to grow in faith, to read the bible and other Christian books, to listen to talks from our own church and other churches, to worship and pray, to be still before Jesus, so that we experience a wide range of spiritual feeding?
Q: Can we balance our lives so that we can all serve in some way, would you like to be involved in church and community more?
It’s so important that our identity isn’t in what we do and that we don’t let our service turn into frenetic anxiety. God desires us to live both action and thought, for radical action mirrors the Good Samaritan and deep consideration of Jesus’s teaching models the story of Mary & Martha.
Do both, there’s time for both and once we find the right balance and rhythm in our lives, maybe we will see that they serve each other and that both are the better way.
Father, we offer you now our time, our reputations, our concerns, and our desires.
Thank you Lord that you receive whatever we give to you and transform it, so that this gift of life we have, might reflect you, as we seek to both serve and rest in your presence.