Trying something new here – enjoy!
Martha picked up her pace as she made her way to the well. The Lord is here. She filled her water jug and thought about all the chores she had to finish in such little time. This was the first time in a long while that she opened up their home to a Rabbi. It was customary to invite Jewish leaders when they visited the city, so this time she was quick to offer her home to Jesus as a place of teaching and breaking bread, like her parents used to..
After her parents passed, Martha took on the role of homemaking, which was common for women in her culture. Being the oldest, she felt obligated to lead the household. Even though they had many servants, she often worked alongside them, overseeing every project, chore, and task as if they weren’t there.
As she approached her home, commotion and laughter erupted from inside. Anxiety welled up inside of her as she ran into her home. Hastily nodding at incoming guests, she inundated herself with the many tasks at hand. The house was filling up quick, Mary and Lazarus were nowhere in sight, and there was still so much to do! The meal was still baking; the wine was still in the cellar; the washing bowls needed refills…
As more people streamed her home, they needed more seating pillows. Dirty towels sat in the corner where the guests washed their feet. This crowd was bigger than usual. Jesus recently welcomed back the seventy disciples, so everyone was excited, hungry, and eager to hear Him teach. Martha desperately scanned the room and checked the boxes in her head again. I need to set another meal; we need more pillows; water, towels, wine…
Her eyes landed on Mary, and she raced to her.
“Why aren’t you helping! Go get the washing tubs and towels, set them near the entrance, find more pillows, and bring me more flour, I need you to…”
“Relax, Martha. Rabbi said we should just sit with Him today. Come.”
Martha’s frustration boiled, and she felt helpless. She turned and nearly bumped into Jesus,
“Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone?” Martha threw her hands in the air, “Then tell her to help me!”
Before Jesus could respond, Martha ran to the kitchen. Her frustration turned into anger as she grabbed the water jug from earlier to refill the washing tubs. Rushing from room to room, she dropped dirty towels in a basket, grabbed clean ones, and picked up a few more pillows for arriving guests. From the primary room, to the kitchen, to the cellar, and back, she whisked and worried away.
Her emotions whirled inside as she saw Mary get comfortable near Jesus, at His feet. Her worry increased, and the anxiety drowned out her anger. She turned away, stifled her watery eyes, and darted towards the kitchen to finish the meal. I must hurry, I still have another batch to bake. Where’s the rosemary! Oh, if only Mary would help! She finished the first tray and headed into the primary room, Jesus looked her way and the room fell quiet.
She set the tray on the table, perplexed. Even the servants stopped their tasks. He answered her earlier remark,
“You are worried and bothered by so many things.”
Her attempt to distract herself with household duties and detached hospitality only lasted a moment. She did as her parents always had and invited the most famous Rabbi into her home, and yet she hadn’t been present with Him. she had been taught guest before duty; relationship before chore.
Though she and her siblings grew up with Jesus, her friendship with Him waned after her parents’ deaths. She distanced herself from Him, her neighborhood friends, and even her siblings to distract herself from grief.
Her stressed mind cycled through the incomplete tasks yet again, but Jesus interrupted her thoughts,
“…only one thing is necessary, Martha, for Mary has chosen the good part; which will not be taken away from her.”
Martha looked into His forgiving eyes and remembered Mary’s words. We should sit with Him. And she realized He was the answer for her anxiety and worry, her grief… and she needed only one thing. Time with Him.
Mary stood promptly and came towards her, embracing her older sister,
“The servants will take care of the meals. I prayed in my heart that He would interfere and slow you down. Now, come and sit at His feet. It’s your turn.”
Mary led Martha to her seat near Jesus. He smiled at her and turned, giving her all of His attention, reminding her that their friendship was more valuable to Him than a meal or a clean house. His encouraging words and love washed away the anxiety and household pressures, strengthening her to the core, replenishing her energy.
Obviously, this isn’t historically accurate, and I may have butchered some cultural facts. But this is kind of what I like to imagine Martha’s situation to be like in Luke 10:38-42. I think many of us can resonate with her and the busyness of her mind.
As I began writing this concoction of a story, I wondered about Martha’s situation. What was she worried about, why did she distract herself? Was it intentional or was she in *survival mode*? Did she feel alone? Or was she distraught and depressed?
Though I can appreciate the many “Be a Mary, Not a Martha” messages nowadays, I think it’s safe to say that neither woman is perfect. We’ve accused Martha of being busy and raised Mary to an unnecessary pedestal, but the focus of the story comes back to Jesus. The one necessary thing; the good part; which won’t be taken away.
When we compare between the two, it’s easy to either get guilt tripped or think ourselves better than others. I tried to step into Martha’s sandals and understand her worried heart for a moment, but I realize again that only Jesus could do that. He’s the only one who could understand your heart, too.
As a woman in today’s society, I can easily look at others and feel bad about myself. Similarly, I can look at others and feel better. And I’m sure men can relate to that as well! But that’s not at all what Jesus conveys, though many sermons subtly communicate this. We go through seasons of busyness and being distracted, and also sitting at His feet and listening. The point is that our relationship with Him doesn’t change.
I don’t think Jesus cut into Martha’s life randomly, accusing her and comparing her to Mary. I think Jesus knew exactly what to say to interrupt her busy mind and remind her of their relationship. Something distracted Martha, and a lot of times, we get distracted, too. But Jesus doesn’t barge in, nor does He accuse us. He brings a perfect interruption to remind us who we are.
Whether you feel like a Mary or a Martha today, know that His love for you doesn’t change. Despite what you’ve endured, lost or gained. He loves you whether you’re distracted or relaxed, and He’ll bring a perfect interruption to tell you that over and over and over again.
37 But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, 39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.Romans 8:37-39