Mary & Martha Luke 10:38-42
Bible Background: This is in the same chapter as the “Mission of the 70”, and the “Good Samaritan”, where Jesus has emphasized some pretty important things! The challenge of this short reading is the challenge between “being” and “doing”.
Digging Deeper: 1. In John’s Gospel, Mary & Martha and brother Lazarus seem to be good friends of Jesus’. Here in Luke, we meet the two sisters for the first time. Martha is obviously focused on her duties as a hostess (VERY important in that culture!). Mary is focused on time to be spent with Jesus.
2. Put yourself in Martha’s shoes: How does she feel? What is she thinking? What does she think she needs? What does Jesus see that she needs? She might feel overwhelmed with duties. She might be frustrated with her sister. She might even be frustrated with Jesus for letting this situation go on “Lord, do you not care…??” Sometimes hosting family or friends in your home is pleasant and rewarding. Sometimes it’s exhausting! Jesus speaks to an issue of real life, where we do get “distracted” from the things that matter most!
3. Put yourself in Mary’s shoes: What is she feeling? Thinking? Wanting? Choosing? She is sitting at the Lord’s feet and listening to what he is saying! What would you give for that opportunity? When and how do we get to be present with Jesus and listen to what he is saying? How is scripture part of that? Or prayer? Or music? Or just simple relaxation and breathing? Some Christians practice yoga, or “mindfulness”. Both can offer us something about living in the moment! And every moment is a moment when Jesus’ presence can be welcomed!
4. If we had the ‘tone of voice’ and not just the words, we could sense if Jesus was scolding Martha (which is how this story is often interpreted), or whether he is inviting her to draw near, and to not fret, and to just enjoy the present opportunity. Do we ‘scold’ ourselves for being too busy to get to worship or to read scripture or to pray? Do we ‘scold’ ourselves for not getting everything done that we think we should get done? What might Jesus say, personally, to you in that moment?
5. Barb Pueringer leads a study based on the book Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World. Our culture get so busy and demanding that we don’t feel we can stop and rest. And it’s not like we can act like Mary all the time! We actually need to find the balance between being like Mary and being like Martha. That may differ for each of us, but it is important to remember that God loves us first for who we are (God’s precious children), and then to a lesser degree for what we manage to do. “Being” is at least as important as “doing”, whatever our age or role in life!