As Jesus’ ministry grew, His circle of friends grew as well. While He called out 12 disciples to specific service, there was a growing number of disciples as well who were not counted within that initial group. Some of His nearest disciples proved to be two sisters named Martha and Mary. Jesus resurrected their brother, Lazarus, from the grave.
When Jesus first met them, both of the sisters welcomed Jesus, but each of them responded to Him in different ways.
Study a vital lesson Jesus taught to Martha and Mary. Read what happened in Luke 10:38-42.
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.”
- What do Martha’s actions and words tell about her focus?
- What does Mary’s priority reveal about her approach?
This narrative is often used to describe the danger of busyness. While Jesus commended Mary for doing the most crucial thing, Martha was busy trying to keep a hospitable home with the great influx of bustling guests. Luke describes that she “was distracted by her many tasks” (Luke 10:40). She had so much to do for the Lord that she had no time to spend with the Lord.
We can find ourselves committed to Jesus without being connected to Jesus.
Martha complains to Jesus. She questions if He cares that she has to do all the work alone. He should tell Mary to get to work (Luke 10:40).
Mary was doing work. She involved herself in a more critical type of work. Sitting at Jesus’ feet, she listened to everything He said.
Martha would one day realize that her chores were endless, but her time to spend with Jesus was limited.
Instead of telling Mary to get to work, Jesus actually commended her. Martha’s worrisome spirit and upset disposition wouldn’t add any type of value to her life (Luke 10:41). Out of all the things that could be done, there was only one thing that should be done. Mary chose that, and no one could take that away from her (Luke 10:42).
Luke never actually concludes the narrative. He leaves it in a bit of a cliffhanger. Did Martha postpone her chores and prioritize communion with Jesus? Did Mary ever talk with Martha about her tattle-telling ways?
We don’t know what happened with busy Martha and devoted Mary, but we can determine what will happen with us.
Have you made time to sit at the feet of Jesus today?