Luke 10:39 And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word. (KJV)
Several years ago I read a book by Joanna Weaver titled, Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World. I should probably go back and read it again! I am prone to be a Martha. Busy. But Jesus words to Martha should make us all stop dead in our tracks: “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” What had Mary chosen? To sit at the feet of Jesus and HEAR the WORD! (Luke 10:39-42)
I get Martha’s frustration. I have been there. It was Martha’s house and she had a house full of guests she had invited and she is bustling around worried about what to serve, is everyone comfortable, does everyone have something to drink, has she planned a sufficient amount of food, is her guest of honor in need of anything? Her sister, on the other hand is NOT in the kitchen pitching in. She is in the living room right in the middle of the men sitting at the feet of their friend Jesus all googly-eyed and not worried in the least her sister is in a tizzy. And of course her brother, Lazarus is by no means concerned, in fact he is clueless there is a problem! I bet Martha was the oldest child and Mary was the youngest. Oldest child syndrome. Just owning it!
What did Jesus have to say that was so vitally important? We are not told. We are told He was not impressed with Martha’s concerns. OUCH! I am sure Martha thought Jesus would scold Mary for her lack of hospitality, graciousness, and for her selfishness. Instead, Jesus reprimanded Martha! I do not think I would have handled this well at all. Talk about a wounded ego! Did anger rise up in Martha? Was she mortified Jesus would correct her in her own home? I mean the audacity of this “visitor.”
The friendship with Jesus was important to both women! Let me be clear about this. Both loved Jesus. One chose to show love by doing; one chose to demonstrate by being. Jesus points out what exhibited love to Him in the best way. He was not interested in how the table was set-china, crystal, and silver or paper plates and sporks; he was interested in the company and the time they were spending together. Mary was focused, Martha distracted. Mary attentive, Martha aggravated. Mary absorbing all He had to say, Martha exhausting herself and not hearing a word He had to say.
Jesus knew He would soon not be present and the opportunity to sit with Him physically would be forever gone. Mary would have this memory of the time shared to sustain her during the difficult days of mourning. Martha would be like so many, regretful of all the coulda, shoulda, woulda’s. Is it not the regrets and what if’s that make grief so painful?
The name Mary means “wished-for child” and Martha means “lady.” Sadly, as we get older we lose our child-like faith. Jesus saw in Mary what He “wished-for” and in Martha what He warned against. We fail to chose the best because we have done the expedient. Jesus got up early to go “sit at the feet” of His Father. Mary stopped, took time out to sit at the feet of Jesus and in so doing she literally HEARD from The Word who was from the beginning. (John 1:1-5)
I hear people all the time say they are afraid Heaven will be boring. Wow, really? What could be better than sitting and listening to Jesus, the best preacher of all time? He will be able to explain all we do not understand, make sense out of what appears to be disaster, to turn the upside down painting He is painting upside right so the image of His glory comes into full view.
Upside down painting
Yes, work is worship and Martha believed her work was serving her Savior. What Mary understood was there will be plenty of time for work; to sit at the very feet of Jesus is a rare and awesome privilege and she was not willing to waste the opportunity on Emily Post rules of etiquette and hospitality and social decorum.
Child-like faith is what Jesus required: “He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. 3 And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 18:2-4) Children love to sit at your feet while you tell stories. Mary was the “wished-for child” Jesus desires us all to be. Today, take a time out to sit at the feet of the Savior, hear His Word to you! The dishes, the laundry, the emails, the social media feed, the dust, the dirt, the to-do list will wait. Spend time with Jesus because you love Him. Leave your want list and want nothing more than His presence. This is “indeed the only one (need) needed.” The time spent with the Lord will pay dividends of immeasurable worth on dark days of the soul when life is truly hard. Jesus knew those days were fast approaching and He was investing into the hearts of His friends knowing the shock, confusion, and utter grief would be difficult to bear. Put down what you are doing, sit at the feet of Jesus, hear His word to you. You will never be the same and neither will the world around you.
Treading water til He comes,
In the Garden by Alan Jackson
We do not sing these beautiful hymns nearly enough! Their message is timeless. I can still hear my sweet Mamma’s voice singing this her favorite hymn–her name was Mary too. Thank you Mamma for being a beautiful example of sitting at the feet of Jesus.