Summary: The familiar story about Jesus visiting Mary and Martha serves as an encouragement for us to clear the clutter that keeps Jesus out of our homes and lives.
“For Christian homes, O Lord we pray.” Hymn 500 in our hymnal begins with those words. Whether we are married or single, whether we have children or not, whether we live in a home or an apartment that is our prayer isn’t it? We want our homes to be Christian homes. But what makes the place where a person lives a Christian home? If we went into a home and saw a cross on the wall, a painting of Jesus, or other Christian artwork could we assume it was a Christian home? What if we saw a Bible on the kitchen counter? That might lead us to conclude it was a Christian home. If we saw the occupants of the home modeling Christian actions we might also be convinced that it deserves the name Christian. How about if we sat down for a meal at a home and the person or persons who live there bowed their heads in prayer and said, “Come, Lord Jesus, be our guest, let these gifts to us be blessed”? Surely then we could assume we were in a Christian home, couldn’t we?
Although those things could certainly be considered evidence that Christians live in a particular home or apartment on their own they don’t make the place a dwelling that can rightly be designated as Christian. You could argue that I am being overly precise in my definition but wouldn’t you agree that if a home is a Christian home Christ must be there? The key to making the places where we live Christian is bringing Christ into them.
But how do we do that? How do we bring Christ into our homes? Things like crosses and pictures of Jesus, prayers and Christ-like actions, don’t bring him into our homes. Those things are good but only one thing puts Jesus in the place we live. He enters through his Word. When he speaks through the record of his life and his timeless teaching he comes as a guest into the hearts and lives of people. Where they live can then rightly be called a Christian home because Christ is there with them.
The Gospel Lesson for this morning contains a message about how we can welcome Jesus into our homes. In it we can find the answer to the prayer, “For Christian homes, O Lord we pray.” Listen as I read our Gospel Lesson again from Luke 10:38-42. (Read the verses on the front cover of this sermon copy.) Through these verses from Luke’s gospel I pray that the LORD will teach each of you how to:
WELCOME JESUS INTO YOUR HOME
I. Clear the clutter that keeps Him out
II. Hear the Word that brings Him in
In the Gospel Lesson last Sunday we read the verses just before these in Luke 10. It was the story that Jesus told about the Good Samaritan. We can see a connection between that story and what happened in this home in Bethany. If you were reading through Luke’s gospel you would first see the life of love a person lives who believes in Jesus. Then you would learn how a believer receives the ability and motivation to do what Jesus said as he ended the story about the Good Samaritan. Those who welcome him into their homes and receive his Word will live a life of service to him.
Martha welcomed Jesus into her home. “As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him.” Was Martha’s home a Christian home? With Christ sitting in her living room how could her home not be a Christian home? Although she loved Jesus and wanted to give him the royal treatment he deserved she was missing out on the one thing that would bring Jesus into her home. Her sister was on the right track. “She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.” But we are told that Martha was “distracted by all the preparations that had to be made.” Was the meal done to perfection? Was the table set appropriately for such a guest as Jesus? Martha was so overcome by her efforts to welcome Jesus into her home that she came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” Martha welcomed Jesus into her home but she focused only on what she could do for Jesus instead of what he wanted to do for her. Her preparations were necessary but not the most important priority.
“For Christian homes, O Lord we pray.” If that is our prayer we can learn a lesson from Martha. Consider the clutter that keeps Jesus out of our homes. I am not talking about the stuff that literally accumulates in our garage or kitchen. I am talking about the things that keep us from really welcoming Jesus into our homes. Think about what we do at home in a typical week. Meals must be prepared, dishes need to be done, clothes must be cleaned, and the lawn has to be mowed. Through those domestic deeds we can serve our Savior. We also squeeze in some time for recreation, time for the family to be together, and for most of the year, time for homework. Reading, or listening to music, or watching TV may round out the list. Even if all that we say, and do, and hear, and watch, reflect our love for Jesus we have not welcomed him into our home. I am not saying that Jesus isn’t in our homes protecting us and providing for us. That he certainly does every hour of every day. He is with us always as he promised. But if we haven’t heard his voice we have not treated him like a guest and welcomed him into our homes in the fullest possible way.