Summary: Just like a rip-current in the ocean can pull us away from shore, we must deepen our relationship with Jesus so that the things of this world do not pull us away from God.
We hear the stories every summer about people who are enjoying a time at the beach only to end up getting caught in the strong grasp of a rip current. These strong channels of water in the water can drag swimmers away from the shore with alarming speed and strength.
The same is true for a Christian. We, as believers, don’t have to swim in the ocean to feel and experience that kind of strength, power, and “pull” of a spiritual rip current.
We face a totally different kind of power each and every day that tugs, pulls, and lures us away just like a rip current out in the ocean that act in powerful ways to draw us and pull us away from God.
Avoiding the disaster of a rip current is much like our Christian Journey. Experts say the First step is to remain calm and don’t panic because a rip current won’t always pull you “under” the water but will pull you “away” from the shore. I think the same of our personal issues we face.
If we are honest with ourselves, most of our issues, concerns, and problems we face are never usually strong enough to “take us down,” but just strong enough to pull us and drag us away from a proper relationship with God.
Martha, in our Gospel lesson, is being pulled away by a “rip current” of distractions and duties. In verse 40, it says, “Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made.” The Hebrew verb “distracted” means “to be drawn away” which is like the power of the rip current.
Martha was caught up in making preparations and got pulled in by all the necessities of feeding the guests in her home. She didn’t even fully comprehend that the Son of God, Jesus Christ, was sitting right there amongst her.
Martha represents those areas of our life that have suffocated the joy out of our life. She represents those things that, like a rip-current, have pulled us away from our first-love, Jesus Christ.
As Martha was busy in the kitchen, we must not be too busy with work, leisure, hobbies, or other job and family commitments that we find ourselves distracted and drawn away from our time with God in Scripture study, prayer, worship, and reflection.
It is a matter of putting everything in our life back in its proper order and correct perspective. Luke 14:26-27, “Whoever comes to me and doesn’t hate father and mother, spouse and children, and brothers and sisters—yes, even one’s own life—cannot be my disciple. Whoever doesn’t carry their own cross and follow me cannot be my disciple.
Jesus doesn’t mean to hate with “literal hate.” Jesus wants our love for everything we have in our lives, including our family, to pale in comparison to the love we have and express for God the Father. Martha remains distracted and misses out on what Jesus has for her.
Mary, instead, is sitting at the feet of Jesus. She knew having Jesus with them was an extraordinary opportunity that demanded its
preference over other things. Listening to the words of Jesus was more important than trying to pull off a very exceptional and elaborate meal.
In Verse 39, we see that Mary “sat” at the feet of Jesus. The word “sat” implies “paying close attention.” She put her total focus on what Jesus was teaching. Her mind was composed and her heart attuned to accept such teaching.
What Jesus had to say was more important than what they were going to eat for dinner. Mary chose to abide with Jesus and to improve her relationship and herself.
We remember Jesus’ such teachings in john 15:4-5, “Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.”
Jesus said “apart” from me, you can do nothing. Again, the imagery of the rip-current catching us and dragging us away from having a close, personal, intimate relationship with our Heavenly Father and from being able to sew and harvest a fruitful ministry to God’s glory.
Yes, indeed, Mary chose “the better part.” This story of Martha and Mary shows us that experiencing God’s love and presence is the most rewarding, healing, empowering and inspiring thing we can do.
Better than the most extravagant meal prepared or the most fruitful ministry harvest, is the Lord’s desire for you to experience his love and to take part in building His Kingdom by making disciples. He loves you! He desires you!