February 2014


Luke 10:38-42

For many Americans, today is the occasion for watching the Super Bowl. It is also a time for lavish meals including in some cases much preparation. So it seems like an apt day to focus on the conflict in this text. On the surface, it seems like a conflict between Martha and Mary. In truth, it is a clash between Martha and her Lord whom she addresses as such.

The Lord is Martha’s God and Savior. She likely does not know Him well at this point in His ministry since the text identifies her generally – “a woman named Martha”. Of course, we know she would become a beloved friend of Jesus along with her sister Mary and her brother Lazarus.

But she has clearly learned of His teaching. Likely, she had been exposed to the teaching of the seventy. She has responded to the gospel. She is hosting Christ at a time in His ministry when it had become dangerous to do so. She is apparently lavishly preparing the meal, as well as the necessities for Jesus along with His some of His disciples. She also has her mind on those things needed to house her cherished guests overnight.

But her sister Mary is sitting at the feet of Jesus listening to her Lord teach the Word. She is at the feet of her God listening to the most powerful, transforming teacher of the Scriptures in the world. Mary ignores the conventions of the day. The rabbis of Israel would never allow a woman to sit at the feet of another teacher to hear the Scriptures. The text describes her position as one of close physical nearness. Mary is absorbed with the intake of God’s Word.

There is no reason to conclude from the text that our Lord does not appreciate Christian hospitality. On the contrary! It is a command. It is a requirement for Elders. Scripture tells women to be keepers of the home. There is also no reason to assume that Martha does not want to listen to her Lord teach. She is just presently unable to do so. She is preoccupied with other things. She is burdened down and worried. The original indicates that the household tasks were dragging Martha away from the precious teaching of her Lord.

What then began as a good thing, the hospitality of God and His beloved servants, has become a provision for the flesh. Martha is not only worried. The passage indicates she is burdened down, bothered, and likely angry with Mary.

To make a bad situation worse, Martha brazenly interrupts the Lord’s own teaching. She then insults the God of infinite compassion with a statement that He apparently does not care about her own burdens combined with Mary’s corresponding neglect – “Lord do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone?” From insult, Martha launches into words of arrogance that are shocking – Martha instructs God to dismiss Mary to help with the chores if He understands her concerns.

Our Lord sympathetically, pointedly, lovingly, and emphatically rebukes
Martha. He repeats her name for emphasis in the personal admonition, but no doubt with a loving , tender tone in His voice. Jesus then captures the moment for Martha and for us! Martha, the priority right now is to listen to My teaching of the Word of God. This is the good thing that Mary has chosen over hospitality. In the original, the Greek is emphatic. Rather than “the
good”, the text should read, “the best”.

Lest we look down upon Martha, let us examine our own hearts. How often have we become anxious about something, entered into the flesh, and ended up encumbered with worry, exasperated, and even angry at others such that we say things we later wish we could take back? Ironically, what Martha needed to do at that precise moment was humbly acknowledge her sin and her consequent need for the Word of God to purify and pacify her agitated heart.

We need to glean from this passage. Yes, hospitality is commanded in Scripture. It instructs us to seek opportunities aggressively to be hospitable. Many other priorities are also commanded of us. We are to provide for our families. We are to minister to the lost. The list of Biblical responsibilities in our lives is manifold. But every priority we take on in and of itself is vanity unless we are empowered by the Lord, serving Him heartily, and with homage.

Man does not live by bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out from the mouth of God. To know God is priority. To know God, we must take in His thoughts while in the Spirit. We must know His mind. The thought of the Lord must dominant our souls such that we are abiding continually in His Word. It must abide in us. We must crave the milk of the Word like babes. The Word of Christ dwells within us richly.

Without a renewing intake of Scripture, we easily will find ourselves distracted from what is best. The results will be inevitable. The deeds of the flesh will produce many other sins in our lives. So let us put the first thing first. We need to identify any distractions in our lives blocking us from sitting at the feet of our Lord. This is how the Spirit enables us to seek the face of our majestic God. Having identified that which is robbing us of the best thing, let us resolve right now to block that which drags us away from communion with our God. Mary wisely chose that which was best; lit us do likewise!

Pastor Blain

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Community Church of the Santa Ynez Valley
240 E. Highway 246
Buellton, CA 93427