My name is Martha. Maybe yours is too.
You remember the story from Luke 10. Jesus is invited to the home of Mary and Martha. John tells us that Jesus loved Mary, Martha and their brother Lazarus. Lazarus had died and Jesus raised him from the dead. (By the way, after I die, don’t do the resuscitation thing with me. Just leave me be. Poor Lazarus had to die twice. Once is quite enough, thank you very much.)
At any rate, the incident described in Luke seems to be the first time Jesus visited the home of the three siblings. The first time Jesus comes is always a surprise. He is never what we thought, he never says what we think he will say, and he hardly ever fits the description of the religious folks. Every time you think you have Jesus figured out…you haven’t.
Martha reminds me of me. When I first met Jesus I told him that I would serve him the rest of my life and then went on about doing stuff I thought would be pleasing to him. Luke says that Martha was busy “with much serving.”
Most of my life I’ve been about “much serving.” It’s not just serving either. It’s serving Jesus and that is a laudable purpose. In fact, thinking he would be pleased, I became the most religious person you would ever want to meet. Not only that, I was the busiest religious person you would ever want to meet.
And do you know what irritates busy religious people?
Those who aren’t religious and busy. Drives me nuts. So being called as a leader of God’s people, I told them to be more religious and to become busier in the service of Jesus. That’s what Martha did too. She was irritated because Mary was not busy serving Jesus. “Lord,” she said, “do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.”
Martha fully expected to have Jesus join her in her discipleship training of Mary. After all, lazy servers hurt the kingdom, their witness and their need to model “busy and religious” for other people.
And then the surprise. Jesus said, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”
“What?” Martha said. “You won’t say that when you don’t have anything to eat, Jesus. And are you encouraging laziness? I thought you cared. I thought you loved me. Is this
any way to treat someone you love? I’m working my tail off here and she…she’s just sitting there. How do you expect me to serve you without any help? You are encouraging her in her lack of commitment and in her slothful ways. She is a sluggard and you know what the Bible says about sluggards.”
Okay, maybe that’s not in the text. Luke doesn’t say Martha said exactly that. In fact, Luke doesn’t include Martha’s response at all. But I’m Martha and—trust me on this—even if it’s not a part of the text, it should have been. That’s exactly what Martha said or, at minimum, thought. I’ve been there, done that and have several T-shirts.
January is a time of incredible quiet. And frankly, it scares me. It not only scares me…it makes me feel guilty. I can’t just sit here and do nothing. I need to do something and preferably something religious.
Then God came.
In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength!
Hey, I know Scripture. I’m a Bible teacher.
Be still and know that I am God.
I know that one too.
And the effect of righteousness will be peace, and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust forever.
Just stop it!
Why don’t you stop it? Stop everything and be still. Leave the universe to me and just be still. You haven’t accomplished that much anyway.
I’ve been thinking about that, so I’ve decided to become more like Mary. She understood three things that I need to remember…
Some things (most things) are way above my pay grade.
I can’t fix global warming, save everybody, change the political climate in Washington, end oppression around the world, disciple all those people who get doctrine wrong, fix the church or bring in the kingdom. I can’t even fix my toaster.
Never overestimate the power of one individual.
I can hear you saying, “Steve, never underestimate the power of one individual.” Okay, there is something to be said for that view, but there is something to be said for this one too.
Pigs can’t sing, dogs can’t play checkers, horses can’t talk and preachers can’t live all they preach. When they try, it often makes them angry and frustrated, and they look foolish.
If I’m at the feet of Jesus long enough, when I finally get up and start working in the kitchen, I’m a better cook and a more gracious host.
Hungry people really do get fed…and then in turn they’re more prepared (and have more energy) to leave the dining room and feed others.
So if it’s okay with you, maybe I’ll do nothing for a while. Kind of hang out with Jesus. The other stuff will get done, I suppose. It got done before I came along and will get done after I’m gone.
I’m just going to sit here with Jesus. Feel free to join me.
Time to Draw Away
Read Luke 10:38-42 & Matthew 11:28-30
Are you a Martha “busy with much serving”? If so, you’ll end up exhausted and frustrated. What’s the solution? Rest, relax and just hang out with Jesus. It’s that simple. He’s got it all covered anyway. Now go get a milkshake…Jesus might want one too.