Only One Thing

As 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. But 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!”

“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 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 10:38-42

After reading this story, take a moment to sit back and imagine…

Years have gone by; Mary and Martha have grown old. One day, Mary takes her grandchildren to Martha’s house for lunch. After lunch, they move out to the patio. It’s a nice sunny day, the birds are singing in the trees, and Mary begins to tell the grandchildren the story about the day that Jesus came to visit. She pauses to take a sip of her lemonade, and one of the grandchildren, a precocious seven-year-old asks Martha what she was doing when Jesus came to visit.

“I barely saw Him; I spent the whole time in the kitchen.”

It would appear from Luke’s narrative that this little scenario would be just about right. What I like about this little aside from the larger narrative, is that it is so true to life. Mary is spellbound at the feet of Jesus, Martha is getting irritated because she’s the only one doing any work, and there’s so much to be done. Let’s see, Jesus was there, so there’s a really good chance that His disciples are there as well, and who knows maybe others too. They will need to be fed. If they are staying over, the guest room must be made ready… or wherever they would be sleeping. Martha is being hospitable, practical. Mary? Well she’s just sitting around!

Yet when Martha mentions this to Jesus, He sees that Mary has made the better choice, for she has chosen to remain in the presence of the Son of God, while Martha is so consumed by the cares of regular earthly life, that she is missing a chance to sit in His presence and soak in His Word.

Yes, this is so true to life.

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About Don Merritt

A long time teacher and writer, Don hopes to share his varied life's experiences in a different way with a Christian perspective.
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9 Responses to Only One Thing

  1. I have studied this. And what Jesus told Martha is that she was spinning her wheels and not getting anything done. I think she had adult ADD. My sweet sister, now 80 years old, has it. She has felt guilty all her life that she cannot get anything accomplished. But, if you call her needing her, she will drop everything and come to you. She has no attention span anyway, so it’s easy for her to do!

  2. BelleUnruh says:

    I’ve thought about this story too. Martha missed out on a wonderful experience. Perhaps she was cooking a complicated dinner. But bread and water would have been enough. Just something to kill the appetite. And at bedtime, everyone could have helped get the rooms ready. Yes, Martha was perhaps concerned how her dinner would look to the people there. She is the one who catered Simon’s big feast, so she must have been well known for her cooking.

    • Don Merritt says:

      Yes that’s right. It’s hard to criticize her for serving in the way she knew how to serve, yet by doing so, she missed out on His presence. That isn’t always easy to balance.

  3. Mary Ann says:

    Great post.. When we get carried away in the cares of this world.. we need a good reminder ..
    Thank you for sharing 🙂

  4. paulfg says:

    “I barely saw Him; I spent the whole time in the kitchen.”

    Your words settled without any discomfort at all – so much rings true. I was on that patio after lunch … And then I heard a quiet whisper ..

    “So isn’t is really cool that – today – no matter whether you are in the kitchen or sitting at my feet, I am with you always.”

    And I was reminded again how dualistic I default to: this or that but never both – and how He spans all if I allow. Thank you Don.

    Bit by bit He is chipping away the duel-ist(!) in me 🙂

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