Summary: The story of Mary and Martha gives us a perspective on what is truly important in our lives.
Sharing In The Kingdom Of Heaven
What pictures come to mind when you think of the story of Mary & Martha?
Doing Vs. Being
I have heard many sermons on this text, as I’m sure most of you have also.
There are many twists to this very short pericope or short story.
Martha represents hospitality – wanting to make sure that her guest is well taken care of.
Martha also represents the people of the world that are caught up with the earthly duties and responsibilities of life.
Martha is concerned more about doing.
She wants to make sure the house is clean, and the table is set, and the meal is prepared and served.
She complains to Jesus that Mary is not helping her.
Jesus replies to her in this way.
Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things.
Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.
What are some of our distractions that take us away from reading the Holy Scriptures, (attending church school), or worshipping?
Is it earning an income?
Is it attending sporting events?
Is it sleeping in on a Sunday morning because we’ve exhausted ourselves the rest of the week with our busy lives?
Modern day psychologists are reporting that in families where both parents are working full time jobs, our children are loosing out from quality time with their moms or dads.
Psychologists warn us that when careers take a front seat to child rearing, it is the children who suffer.
Christian Broadcasts like Focus On The Family with Dr. James Dobson encourage moms to look at the importance of their roles as care givers to their children, and try to erase the stigma of a stay at home mom.
What could be more important than raising your child?
We as a culture have taught women that to be important, you have to achieve something in the work place.
Women strive to become bank presidents and earn higher wages at the sacrifice of spending quality time with their children.
Moms get caught up in the doing of work and loose out on being with their children.
In this pericope, Martha is caught up with the doing of getting things ready for her guests.
But Jesus doesn’t care if the house is in tip top shape.
Jesus doesn’t care if there is a fresh arrangement of flowers on the table.
Jesus doesn’t mind if there is no appetizer.
Jesus wants Mary and Martha to share in the things that are eternal.
The things that Mary and Martha won’t loose when they leave this home and go onto the next.
When Martha comes to the pearly gates, St. Peter won’t be concerned if her house was kept dust free.
This pericope says volumes!
First of all, in Jewish culture, women were not permitted to learn about the Holy Scriptures or even speak to a Rabbi.
When I went to Israel, I was intrigued by the Hassidim who all got together as a group on the plane, several times throughout the flight, and faced a specific direction, and prayed out loud, bowing with a rhythm, all dressed in white shirts, with their black hats, black pants, black shoes, and their tidzits hanging out from beneath their black coats.
They were obviously a faithful people.
And I wanted to question them about who they believed Jesus to be.
So I went over to one of them after they returned to their seats.
I knelt down so I was eye level with him and asked him a few questions.
As I did so, he whispered quietly to me.
I hadn’t noticed, but the whole time, the man sitting in front of him kept turning around and giving him the eye.
He finally said to me that he couldn’t answer any more questions.
I thanked him and went to shake his hand.
He drew back.
I had crossed the line.
Chassidm weren’t permitted to even touch a woman, and he had already gone passed the line just by talking to a female.
You can only really appreciate the story of Mary and Martha once you understand Jewish law and custom.
Here is Jesus, a Rabbi, a teacher, the messiah, talking to women and teaching them.
Jesus turns the tables once again.
The Jewish Rabbis, teachers of the law, devout in their faith, had missed something very important.
Their prejudice against teaching women was being turned upside down.
Here was Jesus, saying that we should not exclude women from learning about God and the kingdom of heaven.
Here was Jesus, being inclusive, in a culture that was exclusive.
I know that in some churches today, there are men who still carry similar prejudices…that women should not teach or preach.