Summary: This is a message about Mary & Martha and how one ought to choose the "best" of the "good" during the coming year.
Luke 10:38-42 A Tale of Two Sisters
Intro: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way .”
These famous lines, which open A Tale of Two Cities, by Charles Dickens, hint at the novel’s central tension between love and family, on the one hand, and oppression and hatred, on the other. The book suggests that good and evil, wisdom and folly, and light and darkness stand equally matched in their struggle. The book makes prominent use of “doubles” to get & keep the reader’s interest.
We have a story in the New Testament that also uses “doubles”, as it were to teach us an important lesson. Luke contrasts two sisters, Mary & Martha and their relationship to Jesus on a particular occasion. I don’t want to say that one did bad and one did good. No, I would rather say one did that which was “good”, but the other did “better” or “best”.
The focus of our passage today isn’t that we should not be concerned about household chores. No, it is making a point about discipleship.
Prop.: Disciples of Christ need to choose the best over the good in 2005.
I. Choosing the best means being in the right place (39).
A. Mary sat at the feet of Jesus.
B. Martha went to the kitchen.
The Greek word here (parakathizo) doesn’t mean to just sit, but sit near.
I think it implies that she got as close to the Lord Jesus as she could possibly get.
Sitting at the feet of your master was the proper place for a disciple to be.
Paul said he was brought up at the “feet of Gamaliel” (Acts 22:3).
Luke 8:35 tells us the man whom Jesus cast demons out of sat at His feet.
II. Choosing the best means listening to the right voice (39).
A. Mary heard the Words of Christ.
B. Martha couldn’t hear the Words of Christ (at least not very well).
While at the feet of Jesus, Mary “heard His word”.
“heard” = The Apostle Luke switches tense of the verb here to an imperfect tense which means this was a durative or a continual listening & hearing…. She listened with attentiveness to everything He said, and she didn’t tire of His voice or of His teaching…
She sat close enough to really hear what He had to say.
It implies that she continued to think about them after He quit talking.
III. Choosing the best means setting priorities and watching for distractions (40).
A. Mary’s priority was being close to Christ.
B. Martha’s priority was serving Christ and others.
“But Martha was encumbered about with much serving…”
Is serving bad? No, of course not.
“serving” = It is the Greek word diakonias. The feminine form of the
word we translate deacon. She was being a deacon/servant.
We are told/commanded that we should serve one another (Gal. 5:13).
So, what Martha did was a “good” thing, so what was the problem?
It simply was NOT the BEST thing to do at this point in time.
We are told that Mary “chose good part” which means decided to do the “better” or “best” thing…
Mary made a choice = she knew there was other things that needed to be done, but she purposefully didn’t do those things. Instead, she went and sat at the feet of Jesus.
“good part” = “better/best part” (depending on what you comparing too).
I can’t think of anything better than for a disciple to be sitting at the feet of Jesus soaking up every word that He spoke, so I think “best” is the best meaning behind “good part”.
Martha was “careful and troubled” by that which wasn’t best.
She could have “sat at His feet” too. However, she chose to other
things instead. She was busy with good things that needed to be done, just not right then.
I have tried to explain the details of this rather simple story for you today.
You may be wondering why we are looking at this passage on Jan. 2, 2005.
I would hope you would see some practical application that might apply for you this
I will tell you it is a lot easier to be a Martha than a Mary. At least I find that to be true in my own life.