Summary: The point here is not that Martha’s activities are bad. The choice Jesus discusses with Martha is between something that is good and something that is better. Life is full of tough choices, and Jesus is addressing the relative merit of good activities her
What God Wants Most
Suppose you have to choose between two people who want to go to dinner with you. The first is very warm and takes a genuine interest in others. He listens attentively and is fun to be with. Those who develop a friendship with him want it to last a lifetime.
In contrast, the second person is aloof and demanding. He keeps most of his friends (if you could call them that) at a distance. The only time he calls is when he wants something from you. He’s pretty unpredictable emotionally, and you never quite know where you stand with him. He wields considerable influence, but if it weren’t for his power he probably wouldn’t have any friends at all.
Who would you rather have dinner with?
Who is God like in your mind – the first person or the second? A way that we can get to that is defining our relationship with Him – to answer this question, “What does God want from us?”
Could each of you take a minute and write in the space provided in your bulletin a list of the things that God desires from us? Don’t copy! This is your own personal list – based on how you think of your relationship with God.
Field several answers …
Find a partner near you and share with them what you feel is the thing that God wants most from you.
Unfortunately, many people have a distorted view of God’s character. To them, he’s much like the second person – distant and uncaring. Although he is powerful, he can’t be counted on. The only real benefit in knowing him comes from occasional answers to prayer. No wonder people have a hard time relating to him!
38 “As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a village where a woman named Martha welcomed them into her home. 39 Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. 40 But Martha was worrying over the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, ‘Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.’” (Luke 10:38-40)
Have you ever been there - Feeling like you have been putting forth all of the effort, while those around you have been taking it easy? How did everything get dump on me? Why don’t they get their lazy rear-ends in gear and take their responsibility for service as seriously as the 20% of us that are doing 80% of the work?
Martha complex – the big dinner
41 “’Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, ‘you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.’” (Luke 10:41-42)
What is going on here? Big dinner, lots of preparations.
The point here is not that Martha’s activities are bad. The choice Jesus discusses with Martha is between something that is good and something that is better. Life is full of tough choices, and Jesus is addressing the relative merit of good activities here. For conscientious people such choices are the most difficult and anxiety-filled.
Jesus answer has a double meaning.
1) a bologna sandwich will do …
2) all of your preparations are getting in the way of us spending time together.
“At its core, Christianity is Christ. Christians embrace a Person, not merely a philosophy. It is not knowing about his teaching so much as it is knowing him. The greatest misunderstanding about Christianity today, even in the church, is the perception that God’s bottom-line requirements are deeds to be done and beliefs to be believed. The Christ who spoke is bypassed for the things he spoke; the Guide is left behind for the guidance he gave; the Commander is ignored in the carrying out of commands.”
We all can get caught up in the fanatic pace of doing things for God. We draw out our spiritual to-do list, and we manage our punch-list of things that we have to do for God. We get so busy doing that we forget the one that we are doing it for.
We treat God like the date that gets forgotten in the corner, as the other circulates the room joining in with the fun, being the center of the crowd, forgetting the one he came with.
Mary and Martha both love Jesus. On this occasion they were both serving him. But Martha thought Mary’s style of serving was inferior to hers. She didn’t realize that in her desire to serve, she was actually neglecting her guest. Are you so busy doing things for Jesus that you’re not spending any time with him?