But Martha was distracted by her many tasks, and she came up and asked, “Lord, don’t You care that my sister has left me to serve alone? So tell her to give me a hand.”
The Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has made the right choice, and it will not be taken away from her.
—Luke 10:40-42 HCSB
Each year around the holidays I usually receive a few invitations to share at various women’s ministry events; invitations I accept eagerly and with deep gratitude.
I just love to talk about Jesus.
Honestly, He’s my absolute favorite.
I start praying for the event well in advance, and those prayers usually go something like this:
So what do you want to talk about, Lord? Clock’s ticking. Sure could use some insight.
There are the usual passages of Scripture preachers like to teach on around Christmas, like Isaiah 9:6, which states “For unto us a child is born, unto is a Son is given, and the government will be on His shoulders, and He shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.”
The Lukan narrative of Jesus’ birth is another popular place to go, but this year, I couldn’t tear myself away from the story of Mary and Martha.
The story is small, buried deep in the heart of the book of Luke, in the middle of our Savior’s journey to Jerusalem, but it carries big implications for us that we can apply year-round.
Luke’s Gospel divides neatly into four sections, comprised of Jesus’ birth and baptism (1:1—4:13), His ministry in Galilee (4:14—9:50), the journey to Jerusalem (9:51—19:44), and the Passion week leading to His crucifixion and resurrection (19:45—24:53). Each section has a theme, and the theme of the Jerusalem journey is this:
~ Jesus Offers a New Way ~
What is the new way? God the Father told Peter, James, and John when they were alone with Jesus on a mountaintop. “This is My Son, the Chosen One. Listen to Him.”
~ Listen to Him ~
What God did in that simple statement was to turn the old way on its head—upside down and inside out. Backward front and frontwards back. A completely new way of approaching the God of Israel.
You see, the old way was about the “do.”
It was about the “thou shalls” and “shall nots,” the “cans” and “cannots,” the “do’s” and “do nots.” It was about an ever-ascending ladder of laws that no man could hope to fulfill.
Ah, but that was the whole point.
The commands, the “thou shalls” and the “do’s” were never meant to save the poor Israelites. They were intended to show them how far they were from holiness, how great was their capacity to sin, and how likely they were to stray without the safeguard of the law.
The “do” was put in place to point us to a “Who.”
~ The old way was about the Do. The new way is about the Who. ~
Martha learned that first hand, late one afternoon when a scraggly band of brothers came knocking at her door. They weren’t strangers, far from it. Scripture indicates that Martha, her sister, Mary, and her brother, Lazarus, were dear friends of the Rabbi they called the Christ. In Biblical times it was a great honor to offer your home to travelers and hospitality was expected.
Still, can we all just agree that Jesus and His disciples pulled a total pop-in? (more…)