Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house.
- This was Martha’s house. Not to say that she owned it. She had 2 siblings – Mary and Lazarus.
- John 11:1-2
1 Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 (– It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.)
- But anytime anyone came, this house was known as Martha’s place. She was probably the more motherly figure. She initiates things. She was the one who took care of people. She represented those that are very busy people, doers. Probably leaders. She also has the gift of hospitality. She is the one that invites Jesus into her house.
- She is the first of the 2 sisters to approach Jesus when their brother Lazarus dies.
- John 11:20
Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him: but Mary sat still in the house.
- You want anything done, you call a person like Martha. She will make things get done. She’s a doer. Makes things happen!
Who is Mary? What do we know about her? She’s the sister. And probably the younger sister? Who knows. She’s more laid back.
- John 11:2
(– It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.)
- She’s the one that wiped the feet of Jesus with her hair and the very expensive perfume that filled the whole room. She really had great love for Jesus!
- John 19:25
Now there stood by the cross of Jesus his mother, and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Cleophas, and Mary Magdalene.
- She is known as Mary Magdalene and she was at the cross when Jesus died. All other disciples except John had fled, but she was there.
- John 20:1
The first day of the week cometh Mary Magdalene early, when it was yet dark, unto the sepulchre, and seeth the stone taken away from the sepulchre.
- She was the first to the tomb of Jesus on Sunday morning.
- Her love for Jesus was evident. How did she have this great love for Christ? She is notoriously known as the woman who was also caught in adultery as well. Jesus was merciful to her remember? He told her that He didn’t condemn her either and that she should sin no more. So from that experience, her love for Jesus began to grow. And now Jesus is invited to her house.
But what is Mary doing?
- Luke 10:39
And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word.
- She’s sitting at the feet of Jesus listening to His word. Listening to His teaching, listening to His preaching. She is wanting to grow in faith and in love with the Messiah.
- It was at the feet of Jesus that she first experienced forgiveness! She was dragged through the streets by the Pharisees, caught in the very act of adultery, and thrown at the feet of Jesus expecting to be condemned! But Jesus forgave her instead and gave her a second chance. It was precious to her to be able to sit at Jesus’ feet. She counted it a privilege, a blessing.
- How can we have that experience today? What does sitting at the feet of Jesus represent? The application is simple. It is listening to His word. It is spending time with Him, getting to know Him. It is our daily devotion – reading the Bible and praying. It is listening to sermons. It is reading good books from different Christian authors which point us to Christ and uplifts His word. It is having a deeper commitment to Him.
- However, the one thing that stands out is that Mary was doing this out of her love for Christ. She didn’t consider it a duty. She wasn’t doing it because she had to because Jesus was in her home as a guest. She didn’t sit there because it was custom. In fact, it was quite the opposite to custom. She was meant to be doing the house duties. She was meant to be helping with her sister to cook and clean and make everyone feel welcome.
- She appreciated Jesus for all that He had done for her. He had forgiven her. He had saved her from the wrath of the religious leaders. He had stood up for her when everyone else was ready to give up on her and condemn her to death. She had seen her need for Christ in helping her to change.
- Friends, have you seen your need of Christ? Have you experienced His forgiving touch – not juts once, not just twice, but many times when we have run back to the same sin, He is just there ready to forgive you. Have you seen His pitiful look, ready to help you in time of need?
- Spending time with Christ, sitting at His feet everyday, it will only have meaning if Christ is personal to each of us. It doesn’t mean it is personal to you just because you grew up in a Christian home. It doesn’t mean it is personal just because you go to church every week. Christ must be personal to you in how He has touched your own life. Not reading the stories of others. That’s why testimonies and praises and thanksgiving is so important so we don’t soon forget that we serve a loving and living God. Sharing praises is important because it keeps God personal to us. It keeps our experience with Him fresh.
- Now we know why so many of the Psalms calls on us to give praise to God. How could David have so many praises to praise God with? It’s because God was so personal to him in every experience of His life. Even when he was running for his life from king Saul, he could praise God. Even when his son Absalom was trying to kill him, he could still praise God. When God forgave his sin against Bathsheba, he turned around and praised God! God was personal to him!
- And so Mary, she was feeling blessed to sit at the feet of Jesus and learn from Him and listen to all His teachings.
However, not all was good in the household of Mary and Martha. Let’s go back to Luke 10.
- Luke 10:40
But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me.
- Martha was busy with all the preparations for receiving so many people in the home, taking care of all the guests and probably feeding them as well. And in all the busyness, she got flustered and she took it out on Jesus. Brought Jesus into all the problem. The problem was her sister. She wasn’t helping her with everything that a woman should do. She felt like she was all alone while her sister was having a jolly time. That was probably what made it worse. She was running around while her sister was just sitting there. But she forgot that it was probably her own idea of having Jesus come to the home.
- You know it’s possible to be serving Christ, be involved in the blessedness of serving others, yet still be burdened or feeling upset or burdened by it all. This was the case of Martha!
- And not only that, but look at what she says to Jesus! Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Where have we heard this before? Lord, don’t you care? What an absurd question to ask right? God don’t you care? Of course He cares!
- The disciples asked that question to Jesus when they were in the midst of storm on the sea and Jesus was fast asleep. Of course, that was a more serious situation. They were sinking and Jesus was just happily sleeping through it all. It’s so easy to blame God when we feel upset or flustered isn’t it? When things don’t go our way, or we get too busy, all of a sudden it’s God’s fault. God always seems to be caught in between. The innocent party is now the problem.
- Martha was upset at Mary because she was just sitting there at the feet of Jesus. You know it’s possible to serve God until you start getting upset at all those that are just sitting there learning from Christ – as if they aren’t doing anything. We can be bitter even in serving God. You get bitter against God, and you get bitter against all those that are walking with Jesus. And then what happens? We think that Jesus doesn’t care and we end up burning out.
How does Jesus respond?
- Luke 10:41-42
41 And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: 42 But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.
- How Jesus responds helps us to understand a bit more about Martha and what sort of person she is. She is a doer. And she gets upset when other people aren’t working like she is working.
- But also, Jesus said that she was careful and troubled about many things. She was worrying too much. Overburdening herself with worry. What she was upset about, Jesus is trying to imply, is a small thing – nothing much to get upset over. She was upset cos her sister was not helping her with the house!
- You know, I can relate to that. I’m like that in character. I’m a doer. I like to be busy and get things done. I’m more like a Martha. And I can relate to the fact about how she would be upset with her sister. Any of you like that? You like to serve. You like to do things. You like to work with your hands. And also, you get upset when people don’t have the sense to help you and lend a hand when they see you so busy. That’s what I’m like many times.
- And Jesus says to us – you are getting upset over something so small. Don’t let it get to the point that you get so upset that you are ready to let go your hold on Christ – question God – God do you really care about me?
- It really was something so small wasn’t it?
But then Jesus says what?
- One thing is needful. Mary has chosen the good part which will not be taken away from her.
- Martha was upset at Mary and tries to get Jesus to reprimand her to help her to serve. But Jesus ends up defending Mary. He says that Mary has chosen the good part which will not be taken away from her. What part was that? Sitting at the feet of Jesus. To know Jesus, to learn from Jesus, to grow in love for Him each day.
- We need to know Christ before we can serve Him. It is more important to spend time with Jesus than to serve a God that you don’t know. There are many Christians who are used to doing a certain thing because that is what Christians do. Some get afraid of getting baptized because they don’t want to be called to serve. But it’s not even that. The most important part of the Christian life is not in service but in sitting at the feet of Jesus and learning from Him.
Do you know that there will be people at the end of time who serve God but who never learnt to sit at the feet of Jesus?
- Matthew 7:22-23
22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.
- They did many wonderful types of works to serve God. But then Jesus turns around and says what? I never knew you! How dreadful to hear such words. To think that you were serving God but you never really knew Him. How come Jesus ended up saying that?
- The key is in Matthew 7:21.
- Matthew 7:21
Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
- You must do the will of the Father first.
- Well what is the will of the Father?
- 1 Thessalonians 4:3
For this is the will of God, even your sanctification…
- 1 Thessalonians 4:3
- And how are we sanctified?
- John 17:17
Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth.
- We are sanctified through the truth. We are sanctified by sitting at the feet of Jesus.
- John 17:17
- There will be servers in the church at the end of time, but they are serving without knowledge. And quite possibly, they end up serving but they get upset at all those around them. They don’t see the point in bible study. All we do is study, study, study the bible all the day long. They want to go out and do something, do get involved in some sort of activity. But there must be a love of the truth, a love of Jesus in the heart, if we are to render true service to God.
Now on the other hand, if all we do is study the Bible all the day long and never serve God, that is also a problem as well!
- James 1:22
But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.
- We must be doers of the word. But we must make sure our foundation is God’s word and love burning in our hearts!
So what stage are you in today? Do you have strong personal devotions? Are you studying the Bible? If not, then you must learn to be like Mary first. Learn to sit at the feet of Jesus.
But if you are walking with Jesus, then there must be a push to service as well. We must learn to give more to Jesus. Neither is wrong. But I find that many like to be more like Martha. It’s more natural for us to just get involved because that is what we see everyone doing. It’s easy to just go with the flow. But we don’t see how people spend time early in the morning with Jesus. We don’t see how Daniel walked with God in the privacy of his room. So it’s hard to emulate that. But there must be a balance.
In finding that balance, it must begin in the quietness of our own hearts and rooms, in communing with Christ today. To make Him our personal friend. To sit and His feet and learn from Him. May God give us that learning experience today.