The day was like any other – the sisters were hosting, yet again. They’d become known for it – the way they made people feel at home in their home. It was a gift. Yet on this particular day, the guest was unlike any other. Not ordinary; it was Jesus.
Martha was busy in the kitchen – distractedly serving and getting everything ready for the evening meal. While Mary was enraptured in the sitting room, hanging by every word that fell from the lips of Jesus.
Frustrated, Martha marches out of the kitchen. Her tight bun was now loose, mousy brown hair everywhere. Remnants of flour and oil remained on her clothes. Sweat dripped from her well-formed brow.
Knowing He carried weight with her sister, and knowing He always hears her, Martha spoke up.
“Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her to help me.” Hands flying everywhere, and then finally resting exhausted at her side, as though ready to collapse.
“Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary, Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken from her.”
(Luke 10:38-42 ESV)
What I love about how Jesus relates with these sisters, is that He always has compassion – on both of them. Citing Martha’s name twice usually means He’s trying to get her attention, but also doing so lovingly. The Bible said she was “distracted with much serving”. In the Message version, it says in vs 38, “A woman by the name of Martha welcomed him and made him feel quite at home.”
Usually Martha can get picked on in this text. But never once does Jesus reprimand her or make her feel badly – He kindly and lovingly points to the better way. Clearly Martha was gifted in the areas of homemaking.
If I knew Jesus was coming, I would’ve been fussing about getting the home ready as well – just like Martha. But Mary, bless her heart, decides to sit at Jesus’ feet, in His presence.
At first glance, from the perspective of someone like Martha, this looks lazy and uncaring. But even amongst all the doing and serving to be done, she still ‘chose well’ –to listen and be still.
Mary’s position was bowed and waiting, Martha’s position was flustered and distracted.
How real can this be of our hearts? I can sit down to spend time with the Lord and a million things run through my mind of what to do next (and we don’t even have kids yet!). I think what Jesus was saying was – even amongst the distractions and all the things you need to do (good things, real life things), choose a bowed position of heart, and I will meet you there.
As we enjoy this Christmas season, I hope I can still the distractions, and sit at Jesus’ feet more. Whether it’s while doing dishes or driving to do errands, I want to be more conscious of the position of my heart this season – am I bowing and waiting, or am I flustered and distracted?