Based on what we know about her, Martha worked hard, never resting. She modeled the ideal member every church wants. She leads the committee that delivers food to the sick. Every day finds her standing beside a hospital bed, comforting the patient. She directs the Christmas dinner and makes the turkey and dressing. And, in her spare time, she leads the children’s ministry. We see her scurrying around in every church.
. . . she came up to Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.” But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”
Martha therefore, when she heard that Jesus was coming, went to meet Him, but Mary [e]stayed at the house. Martha then said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.
Therefore, when Mary came where Jesus was, she saw Him, and fell at His feet, saying to Him, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.”
Then there was Mary. Was she a daydreamer? Wandering off distracted when she noticed a butterfly or a lovely flower? She meant well.
And now Martha slaved on dinner for her beloved Jesus. And that lazy girl sat at Jesus’ feet, just listening.
Martha had enough. She went to Jesus and complained. And instead of directing Mary to help Martha, He said Mary “chose the good way.” A comedy team from the 60s and 70s (Smothers Brothers) used the punch line: “Mom always liked you best.” Did Martha think “Jesus always liked Mary best?”
I don’t know if Jesus liked Mary best. But He liked her attention to the word so much this sibling rivalry holds an honored place in the Bible.
We can’t do without Martha, but even Martha needs to make time to sit at Jesus’ feet.
A young frazzled mother I met barely has time to shower. But she plays Bible tapes while she works. A bonus: Her children hear the word all day long. The Bible nourishes us. Prayer connects us with God. Work alone merely exhausts us.
Dear Lord, I’ll never be Martha, but lead me to imitate the examples of both these women.
Painting Mary and Martha, David Lindsley Gallery