Summary: We minister like Jesus by taking the time to develop relationships with those to whom we minister.
This week I came across a blog post by a man named Ian Stachowitz that caught my attention with its opening words:
My full-time job includes mopping floors, washing windows, vacuuming carpets, and scrubbing toilets. I also profess my faith in Jesus and I strive to live like Him. By all accounts, I believe that makes me a full-time minister.
Ian closes that same blog post with these words:
There are people in churches everywhere that are ministers, but do not hold a pastoral office. The most undignified work is often the kind of work that Jesus wants us to do. It does not have to take the form of full-time custodial work or take up a lot of time in your day. Often, the single, simple acts are the ones that mean the most. It may mean visiting hospital inpatients or removing snow from a neighbor’s sidewalk. It could mean participating in a church work day or working with students with special needs. It may mean being a parent or being a missionary. The work that appears of little importance is indeed the work that Jesus did and asked us to. If, as a Christian, that is what you are doing already, then by all accounts, you, too are a minister.
Ian does a pretty jog of summarizing the overall principle that undergirds our current sermon series – every Christ follower is called by God to be a minister. And because that is true, we have been examining how Jesus ministered to others to see what we can learn from Him and apply to our own ministry to others. We began a couple weeks ago with the account of the rich young ruler and then last week we saw how Jesus ministered to a Syrophoenician woman.
This week, we’ll examine the account of an event that is recorded only by Luke. Before we read that passage, let me briefly set the stage for that encounter.
Near the end of Luke chapter 9, we read these words:
When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem.
Luke 9:51 (ESV)
It is now six months or less until Jesus reaches Jerusalem one last time and is crucified on a Roman cross. Jesus is on the road almost that entire time, going from village to village to proclaim who He is after first sending out a group of seventy two of his followers to prepare the way.
In Luke’s gospel account of this period, the primary emphasis is on the teaching of Jesus. Luke isn’t concerned at all with any of Jesus’ miracles. He isn’t even concerned with where Jesus goes. In the passage we’ll read in a moment, he just writes that “Jesus entered a village” without naming the village. Elsewhere in this section, he writes that Jesus was praying “in a certain place”, but doesn’t identify the place. Because of the emphasis on Jesus’ teaching, we can’t even be sure that the events that he chronicles are placed in chronological order in this section of Luke’s gospel account.
With that background in mind, let’s read the passage we’ll examine this morning:
Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”
Luke 10:38-42 (ESV)
Although this is probably a familiar passage for most of us, my experience is that most of the teaching on this passage focuses on what we can learn from Martha and Mary. And we’ll take a moment to focus on just one implication for our lives that is based on what Martha and Mary do here. But once again this morning our primary focus is going to be on Jesus and how He ministered to these two women. There is obviously a lot we could learn here, but we’ll focus on just four ministry principles.
Jesus ministered to all regardless of their background
Hopefully you’ll notice that this is exactly the same as the first principle we derived from last week’s focus on the Syrophoenician woman. And this is not going to be the last time that we’ll see Jesus employ the same ministry principle in a number of different situations.
Jesus goes against many of the cultural expectations of His day here. It is quite significant that Jesus visited these women in their home for the purpose of teaching them about spiritual matters. Most Jewish rabbis thought that teaching women was a waste of time. And even if a woman was permitted to learn, it had to be from the back, or from the section set aside for the women, certainly never at the feet of the teacher.