Summary: Why was Jesus so hard on Martha and not Mary?

Note: This is the sermon manuscript that Ben carried into the pulpit. Feel free to use it in any way to advance the kingdom of God.

Questions For God:

Is the Lord Pleased With My Priorities?

Luke 10:38-42

Englewood Baptist Church

Sunday Morning, Aug. 10, 2008

Today marks week 3 in this sermon series entitled, Questions For God. We have been examining some excellent questions that people often pose to their pastors. On week 1, if you remember, we explored the question, “Does God Change His Mind?” Last week, we dealt with the question, “What is the Secret to Success?”

Today I am dealing with a question that came to me last week in the kitchen of my house. The question came from my mother-in-law. I was telling her about this sermon series I was doing and she said, “I have a question for you. Maybe you can preach on this sometime: “Why was Jesus so hard on Martha?”

I just stopped in my tracks and said to her, “You know, that is a great question.” She was alluding to Luke 10 when Jesus rebukes Martha for being too preoccupied with preparing a meal. It is a convicting passage of Scripture. It is a commentary on misplaced priorities.

Before we dive into this story, let me ask you a few probing questions. Is God pleased with your priorities? If the Lord returned today, would you be proud of the way that you are spending your time and your energy and your money? Is time with Jesus Christ the #1 priority in your life? Are you so busy doing other things that you ignore the most important relationship you have? Listen to the story of Martha. Put yourself in this story. Are you more like Mary or Martha?

Read Luke 10:38-42

Is it me or does Jesus sound a little bit perturbed? “Martha, Martha,” he says, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed.” Apparantly, Martha had committed a big no-no. Jesus was a little annoyed with her. I might be going too far to say he was angry, but he was certainly irritated by Martha’s behavior. And I don’t know very many women who read this passage and don’t want to stand up for Martha. “Somebody’s got to clean the dishes!”

Let’s give Martha some credit here. Imagine what could have been going on behind the scenes of the story. Jesus is coming into town. He’s the most important person that has ever walked the face of the Earth and certainly the most famous person that has ever come to her town. He’s bigger than any king, any president, any athlete that has ever lived, and he is coming to her house to eat. And not just him, but he is bringing 12 hungry men that he calls his disciples. With Mary and Martha, this was a party of 15. That’s a lot of food to prepare, and it’s a lot of pressure for the host. Everything has to be just right. Every woman wants to impress her house guests, treat them well, especially when that houseguest happens to be God with skin on. You can understand the pressure the woman was under. And to make things worse, she is having to do it all herself.

And here is how things might have gone that day. Martha was scurrying around the kitchen cutting up the meat and the vegetable when suddenly it dawns on her that she is out of fresh water. So, she grabs a pail and runs up the hill to the well, fills it up, begins walking back, trips, falls, and spills the whole thing all down the front of her. She goes back, fills the bucket again, runs to the kitchen, hustling and bustling to get it all together with a nice presentation. After all, it’s all about the presentation. And as she is laying out 15 servings on each plate, out of the corner of her eye, she sees her sister giggling. She is sitting at the feet of Jesus just twirling her hair and listening intently. Martha feels like every woman has felt at some point: underappreciated and taken advantage of. So what happens? Her pride wells up within her. She murmurs to herself, “I am no servant, or a slave.” She walks into the living room, gives her sister one of those sisterly looks, one of those, “Wait till he leaves the room” kind of looks.

Just then, Jesus looks at her and says, “Martha, why don’t you pull up a seat next to your sister here and join the conversation.” But Martha was in no mood for chit chat. With arms crossed, she responds, and this is my translation, “Lord, why don’t you tell my lazy sister to get up off the floor and help me in the kitchen?!?”

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