Posted by: Akash Vansal | April 15, 2011

The Lord Teaches Martha

The Gospel :Jesus Teaches Martha

In this series, we are taking lessons sitting by His feet as He teaches some people individually, personally. Today we are going to see what He taught Martha, a simple lady who was making every effort to treat her Lord with all the hospitality that she could. This event in found in The gospel of Luke, chapter 10, verse 39 to 42. Lets go through it.
39As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” 41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 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 10:39-42

Explanation : Here, we read that Jesus along with His disciples are going through a certain village, which we do not know. A certain lady called Martha invites them to her house. Her intension is very clear with the way she employs herself to the task of preparing foods for her Lord and His disciples. She must have been preparing the best choice foods and dishes. When she realizes that she won’t be able to do all things by herself or in just time, she feels if someone could help her in her preparations. She has a sister, Mary. She is furious to see Mary sitting ‘idle’ listening to Jesus. Finally, when she could not bear any more frustrations, she comes and tells Jesus to tell Mary to help in her preparations.
Well, we could easily understand the positions of Martha. Utterly helpless, with lots of things to do. The Guest whom she loves and reveres is already in and she is not in a position to prepare the meals in time and at the same time her sister who can be of help is not helping her. The reason she asks Jesus to interfere could be, she thought Mary will certainly respond to Him. Maybe, Martha must have asked her in between to help her, but Mary must have totally ignored her orders.
Now, Martha’s tone speaks of her frustrations. She, instead of requesting Jesus, she almost rebukes Jesus! “Don’t you care”, She commands Jesus, “Tell her to help me” Her anger and frustration have taken over. She is rude to her honored guest.
Now, just imagine you yourself invite one of honoured guest and finds yourself in situation like this of Martha. And you say the same thing to your guest what Martha told. What will be the reaction of the guest, especialy the religious teacher. You may expect some, really unpleasant reaction. For, this was insulting to the guest!. But we see Jesus calm and compassionate. How soothing it must have been to Martha to hear her Lord calling her, “Martha, Martha”. Further, He comforts her that she should not be worried of so many things when only one thing is needed, that of listening to Jesus. Mary is exactly doing that. He also tells her plainly that He will not take that away from Mary.

Gospel : The message is simple. We are not to be engrossed in our day today activity so much that we ignore the teaching of Jesus. We see that these days, people are not very serious towards learning what Jesus wants us to teach. People are very much busy and engrossed with their routine life. Bible Study is where we come to know the will and wish of Jesus, the ways and means of pleasing Jesus, the duties and responsibilities of us. We cannot sacrifice Bible Study for other things. We need to give PRIORITY to Jesus teaching. Unless we learn, how are we going to teach others, our children? Listening to what Jesus is teaching is the highest way to show him honor, and preferable to any human way we seek to honor him. We must be willing to shift our priorities in order to follow Jesus.
The fact that she was upset with Mary and the fact that she was too busy to come sit at Jesus’ feet and take the position of a learner stood as dual witnesses to the truth that Martha had either forgotten or had yet to find the real reason for her discipleship. Only when we are truly devoted to sitting at the feet of Jesus and having a relationship with him can we really serve with a heart of compassion that pleases God. Jesus didn’t denounce Martha for her heart to serve. Whatever we try to do to please God, should be done without expecting anyone else to help us. Our service should be whole heartedly. Many a times, we embark on a certain mission of serving the Lord without depending on anyone else, but later expect help from others. When we fail in this expectation, we unconcsiously drift away from the mission of serving . At all times, our focus should be on Jesus, on His teaching.

Bible Study :
1) Here, we read that Jesus along with His disciples are on their way.
Where? For answer to this, we find it in Luke 9:51. He is on way to Jerusalem.
2) To which city they come, we are not told but most probably, they are in Bethany (John 11:1) or very near to it. She invites Jesus to stay in her home. It is spoken of as “her home.” She isn’t keeping house for her brother, who probably lives nearby in Bethany. It is her house. Since we don’t hear of her husband, she may have been widowed. It wouldn’t surprise me if her sister Mary lived with her, though we aren’t told.. I believe that Jesus’ friendship with Lazarus was the primary one, since he was a man, and that Lazarus had introduced Jesus to his sisters Martha and Mary (John 11:3).
3) Sometimes we get the impression that Mary is the spiritual one, while Martha is not. But Martha’s invitation indicates her openness to spiritual things. She, too, longs to be a disciple, and wants to honor Jesus by inviting him to her home. Martha’s name in Hebrew, incidentally, means “lady” or “mistress (of the house).”
4) In Jesus’ time and in our culture too, womens are expected to engage themselves with the kitchen affairs, cook food, serve the guests and not mingle with the men or with teaching and learning. This was considered to be exclusively the responsibility of the men. It is really remarkable that Jesus DOESN’T encourage Mary to help Martha. This isn’t the first time that Jesus has cut across his culture’s expectations about familial responsibility in order to make a point that will be remembered. Even though it cuts across the grain of societal expectations, even though it means neglecting her regular duties, Jesus approves, Mary has correctly discerned that listening to Jesus and learning his ways is more important than anything — anything else she can choose. And no one can rip this precious spiritual food away from her.

Conclusions :God has preferences on the way people respond to him and worship him. All forms of worship are NOT equal in God’s eyes. In the case of Jesus, putting on a great dinner for the Master doesn’t compare to listening to him and obeying him.
I don’t want to be too hard on Martha, Jesus certainly wasn’t. But he tried very gently to explain how Mary’s choice was better, and that she shouldn’t be deprived of it by having to be marched off to the kitchen .
What is it that you are trying to offer Jesus? Your talents and abilities? The open doors and opportunities afforded by your position in the community? Faithful service as a Sunday school teacher even though you might prefer to do something else? All these can be good. And I am sure that Jesus wants each of these from you in their own time.
But the one thing that Jesus seeks above all else is time that you spend time listening to him, “sitting at his feet,” as it were. That needs to come first, before all these other things. That is where peace is found. That is the only place of spiritual rest.
“Martha, why don’t you take off your apron and sit down for a few minutes. Dinner can wait. There’s something very dear to my heart that I’d like to share with you — you personally. Do you have some time right now?”

Questions :

1) Martha was a host to Lord Jesus atleast once elsewhere. Can you recollect when?

2) Like Martha Martha, whom did Lord call repeatedly?

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