TEXT: Luke 10:38-42
We all love receiving visitors, right? In fact we have been noted as the most hospitable people in the whole wide world. Our ancestors taught us this culture that we still carry up to this point of time. We would spend a lot of time preparing the house, cleaning every corner, set up new curtains, new mats, table cloths, making sure that the comfort room is clean and smelling great. And the greatest part is the food. Wow! Food everywhere, unlimited supply of juices, of rice, of everything! It is also our practice that we must be very busy in doing the necessary preparations for the coming of the visitor, and sometimes, we’re also busy quarreling with each other because somebody is not helping out! This morning, we would encounter the same scenario of receiving or accommodating visitors.
Let me give you a brief background of our text. After Jesus taught the lawyer how to inherit eternal life and had used the parable of the Good Samaritan and ordering the lawyer to do the same as the Samaritan did, He went traveling and entered a village. In verse 38, we would again witness another accommodation done to Jesus, not in the house of Pharisees or Teachers of Law, but in the house of the woman named Martha who had welcomed Him into her own house.
Some scholars believed that Martha was a widow. Others supposed that she was the eldest among Lazarus and Mary because the house was name after her. No matter how we put it, it is safe to say that the house mentioned was definitely Martha’s house. And that is why she has employed on all the domestic chores or preparations needed to accommodate the Master.
- The “they” in this scene is Christ, the disciples, others following Christ shortly after the 70 returned from their missionary journey. It could have been a handful, could have been many.
- The word “welcomed” carries with it more than just a greeting in this culture. If you welcomed someone into your home, you provided their comfort and honored them. Often this included a meal or even lodging.
We see in the passage that Martha was busy with the many tasks that came along with providing comfort and probably a meal for at least a handful of men, but possibly more. This event supposed that Jesus frequently visits and stay in this house after His ministry in the neighboring villages. That’s also the reason why Jesus, Lazarus, Martha and Mary had a certain bond of friendship.
Their culture of receiving visitors doesn’t differ much with ours. There are lots of preparations, cleaning, warm accommodation and unending supply of food. They usually give their best seat or the most comfortable place in the house. (GANUN DIN NAMAN TAYO DIBA?) We give the best seat, the best of everything for our guests whenever they visit.
With all the preparations being done, foods being prepared and the whole house is being fashioned, with that in mind, the first thing that we’ll see in this story is:
1. MARY’S ACTION (v. 39)
Mary the sister of Martha was seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to His Word.
It is a common practice among the Jews to sit at the feet of their teachers or instructors. It is their way of listening and learning to all the teachings of their master.
But for Mary, there’s a greater significance, a much greater reason why she was at the feet of Jesus – more than just learning or listening to the Master’s voice.
According to Scholars, there’s a great probability, that this Mary that we’re talking about is the same Mary who was caught in adultery, about to be stoned by the people who are accusing her of the said offense. But what had happened is that she was never stoned because Jesus said to the people, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” One by one, they began to go out. Beginning with the older ones until Jesus was left all alone. Jesus said to her, “I do not condemn you, either. From now on, sin no more.” This Mary had been forgiven of her sins, of being an adulterous woman, considered as one of the heinous crimes of their times, but Jesus never had condemned her. Let’s pause for a while on that…That’s a total Wow! Imagine a woman about to be stoned to death, but had been delivered and never been condemned. I believe you would really give an enormous amount of gratitude to the one who had forgiven you.
After that event, that life-altering incident, Mary expressed her gratitude to Jesus by pouring a pound of a very costly perfume of pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair. The Bible tells us that the whole house was filled with the fragrance of the expensive perfume. Mary expressed a generous love to Jesus because she herself had received unconditional love and pardon from Jesus. Jesus even told her, and to the people listening to Him; that what Mary did will always be remembered every time the Gospel will be preached.
At the feet of Jesus, Mary had experienced true peace, joy acceptance and mostly love. At the feet of Jesus, she had declared who is the Lord and how loving He is. Mary had always looked at herself as a woman who had received so much from Jesus, and as a sign of her humility and sincere gratitude she always sits at Jesus’ feet.
For Mary, Jesus is far more important than any preparations that must be made. Because for her, Jesus is not just a simple visitor…for her, He is the One who had given her acceptance, forgiveness and love. The world would stop for Mary, the hassles of the preparations, the food…for her nothing, nobody is far more important than Jesus, and that she would do everything just to give Jesus her full attention and wholehearted expression of her gratitude. (PARA KAY MARIA, MAS MAHALAGANG UNAHIN ANG BISITA HIGIT SA ANUPAMANG PAGHAHANDA, DAHIL SI HESUS AY HINDI LANG SIMPLENG BISITA PARA SA KANYA. ANG BISITANG ITO AY ANG NAGBIGAY SA KANYA NG KAPATAWARAN AT PAGTANGGAP. TUMITIGIL ANG BUONG PALIGID, ANG KAABALAHAN NG PAGHAHAIN AT PAGHAHANDA, WALANG IBANG MAHALAGA SA KANYA KUNDI ANG MAIBIGAY NIYA LAMANG ANG KANYANG BUONG ATENSIYON AT MAIPADAMA NIYA ANG KANYANG TAOS PUSONG PAGPAPASALAMAT SA ATING PANGINOONG HESU-KRISTO.)
So what does it mean to us my dear brothers and sisters? It means that we must imitate what Mary did, her action, her choice.
The good part to which Christ was referring was Mary’s careful attention to the Lord. Stop and think about that for just a minute. I submit that we can learn a lot about our walk with God by this simple short phrase. Mary was at the Lord’s feet and carefully listening to Him teach and edify those around Him in the house. She stopped all things in her life to listen to God.
All of us had been forgiven from all our sins, sins of many kinds and of various degrees. We all found love and unconditional pardon from Jesus. It is just fitting for us to be always at His’ feet, not literally at His feet, but to CONSTANTLY DESIRE BEING IN HIS PRESENCE. We don’t have Christ incarnate with us today, but we have Christ with us nonetheless; just as powerful, just as profound, who deeply wants a totally committed relationship with each of us. We also have the guidance and care of the Holy Spirit in our lives and the amazing Word of God we can pour over for eternity and not exhaust its meanings. Because we have all these, we can listen to Christ just as easily as Mary did. We can listen to His word everyday if we’re not too busy about our secular lives to hear Him speak to us.
May you and I always long to be in the presence of God, to be always at the Master’s feet. Yes, we have lots of things to do, lots of cares, but you and I must always give Him our time, our best time, best attention, our wholehearted devotion. (SA LAHAT NAWA NANG PAGKAKATAON LAGI NATING NASAIN ANG MAPUNTA SA PAANAN NG ATING PANGINOON, ANG MAMALAGI SA KANYANG PRESENSYA. OO MARAMI TAYONG DAPAT GAWIN AT NAPAKARAMI NATING ALALAHANIN, NGUNIT HUWAG NATING KALIGTAANG BIGYAN NG PANAHON, NANG PINAKAMABUTING PANAHON ANG ATING PANGINOON.)
George Mueller is a seasoned pastor. He used to pastor to 1,200 believers. He was in-charge of five immense orphanages; also, at his publishing depot, they are printing and circulating millions of tracts, books, and Bibles; and he read at least 30,000 letters annually. But amidst all of those cares, he made it a point that his fellowship, heart and attention to God are his primal priority in life.
If in other things we have so many time; so many allotted season for other activities and having a very long list of things to do, be reminded that we must have time for Jesus.
Optional Illustration: (LUMILIPAD ANG ISIP KAPAG NASA CHURCH)
I strongly believe that we’ve cluttered our lives with secular things that we feel are important. But, I ask you to take an eternal view of your busy life.
- What in our lives can be taken away and what cannot be taken away?
- What do we fill our lives with that will last forever?
We must examine our lives to see if we’ve filled our lives with the things that will pass away or the things that will last forever.
After we truthfully examine our lives, we can’t stop there. We must take the next step to determine how we’ll remove those things in life that are not necessary and replace them with eternal activities. Replacing those things that are wood and hay with the things that are gold and silver.
But, many cry out that they are overwhelmed by the things that they really have to do. By no means am I advocating that Christians abandon responsibilities. I know we have earthly responsibilities, but is everything in your life a responsibility? I suggest that we have many things in our lives that are not critical. Each believer has to assess their lives and be honest with themselves as to the quantity of their lives that is devoted to eternal activities.
Many people say that humans need diversions to live a healthy balanced life. I think we’ve deluded ourselves to believe this because we haven’t fully experienced the true joy of a close walk with God. We are created to worship God and enjoy ourselves in that relationship. This relationship is what fulfills us, this relationship is what brings us joy. There’s nothing like experiencing the joy from replacing secular activities with spiritual ones. It’s a life of blessings and joy. That’s the true balance—we are just plain happy people if we listen to the Lord’s words.
Let Jesus be the first, the number one object of your desire above everything else. He is the source of everything in our lives…He is the Giver of Life, the One who loves us and had done great things for us. It is just but fitting to put Him on top of all the things in your life – greater than your activities and busyness in life, greater than your wealth or earthly possessions and even greater than your life. Tell to your neighbor, “Do what Mary did!”
Now in verse 40, we can see:
2. MARTHA’S DISTRACTION
Martha was distracted with all her preparations. Her desire is to provide Jesus and His disciples suited and timely accommodations. She was for much serving. Her heart was upon it, to have a sumptuous and splendid accommodations; great plenty, great variety, and great exactness, according to the fashion of the place. She in care, “peri pollen diakonian” – concerning much attendance…Martha was harassed with different cares and employment all at the same time. (ALAM N’YO YUN, YUNG TIPIKAL NA NAGHAHANDA NG MGA KAGAMITAN, SINISIGURADONG MALINIS LAHAT, TAMA ANG PAGKALUTO NG MGA PAGKAIN, ETC.)
Truly, Martha was a good and useful woman. No one can deny that…but she lived on the surface of things, and her affections and her piety alike found adequate and satisfying expression at all times in the ordinary, kindly offices of hospitality and domestic service.
If for Mary to be at the feet of Jesus, to be in His presence is far more important than any other things, for Martha things are important…things that has something to do with Jesus’ food, seat, etc. For her serving God would mean having a strong relationship with Jesus.
Martha symbolizes many of the present believers who are so busy, so distracted of the surface of things regarding their relationship with Jesus. Some of the Christians have a wrong notion that their busyness in the ministry, in their work, in their family and in everything, would mean strengthening their relationship with Jesus.
a. Many church’s workers/ministers or volunteers actually believe that it’s enough to be busy with their ministries to deepen their relationship with Jesus. (NA KAPAG PRESENT KA LAGI SA MINISTRY, PUNTA DITO, PUNTA DOON AY SAPAT NANG DAHILAN O GAWAIN UPANG MASABING MAGANDA ANG IYONG RELASYON O UGNAYAN SA ATING PANGINOON.) Yes, serving God has been commanded to us and you and I must serve Him…but if your service or ministry had been greater than our God, then it becomes wrong. There’s an old saying in the Christian community, it says, “We tend to become busy with the Kingdom, but not busy with the King.” Let me ask you something…who’s important in the kingdom, the castle or the kingdom or the king himself? (THE KING!!!) Therefore we must give the King our full attention our undivided devotion than what we’re doing for His kingdom. Again, we have been called to serve Him through the different ministries of our church, but our first and foremost ministry wherein all of us must excel with is our fellowship with Jesus – developing a much deeper, more intimate relationship with Him!
b. When it comes to our secular jobs, we tend to justify our busyness by saying, “THIS IS FOR YOU LORD! WITH THIS, I CAN GIVE MORE TITHES TO YOU!” Oh yes, it’s definitely right for you to give your best in your job so that others would see that Christians are industrious people…and of course it’s good to give your tithes generously to God, but if your work eats more time in your life, neglecting fellowships, worship services, and neglecting your personal, intimate time with the Lord, then it becomes terribly wrong. The Lord wants your time, your devotion with Him – greater than anything, any material thing you can offer to Him…He wants your relationship with Him to become stronger, deeper and fruitful – YOU ARE IMPORTANT TO HIM, NOT THINGS…(IKAW ANG MAHALAGA PARA KAY HESUS.)
c. Even in our families. We become so busy with our families – providing for their needs, giving them the best things in life, just merely doing everything for their sake. Those are right things to do…right practices for our families, but if it will hinder your growth spiritually and would snatch your precious attention, time away from God, then you never hit the balance, it becomes wrong as well. (Bring your children to Church…if there’s a will to do it, you will find a way) Illustration: (members who had brought their children to church, even to the point of walking from their place to church)
How many times must we hear that for us to have a strengthened and deepened relationship with Jesus you need to dwell more in His presence! That we must communicate with Him more often. (ILANG BESES DAPAT NATING MARINIG NA ANG TANGING PARAAN UPANG ANG IYONG RELASYON AY TUMIBAY SA ATING PANGINOON AY SA PAMAMAGITAN NG PAKIKIPAG-NIIG O PATULOY NA PAKIKIPAG-UGNAYAN SA KANYA! HINDI ITO NAKUKUHA SA KAABALAHAN SA MINISTERYO, SA IYONG TRABAHO, PAMILYA O KUNG SA ANU PA MANG MGA BAGAY!)
Yes, it’s absolutely, definitely right for you to give your best service to God, to be industrious and diligent in your job, and to provide the best for our families…but let not all these things snatch your love and devotion to Him…don’t let these things keeps you away from the Lord Jesus Christ. JESUS IS ABOVE ALL, AND MUST REMAIN ABOVE ALL! Tell to the person sitting next to you, “Jesus must remain above all!”
What happens when we focus so much on things than focusing on Jesus? When things surrounding us had become more important than Jesus, we become frustrated every time we fail…every time we have not achieved our goals in our job we become depressed. When our family members become sick though we gave out our best to nurture them, we become anxious, and sometimes we blame God for all the things that are happening in our lives.
That’s exactly what happened to Martha. When all the things that made to be done had piled up, she got frustrated, looking at herself that as if she’s the only person doing the task, then she utterly complained to Jesus by saying, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
Martha accused Jesus of being insensitive to her situation. What she uttered to Jesus was an improper reproof…as if He encouraged Mary in neglecting her duty. Perhaps she was thinking that Mary should have not left her without asking for permission. Martha hinted to Jesus her busy employments, her need of the aid of her sister, and requested that He would signify his wish that Mary must assist her.
Now in verses 41-42 we’re going to see
3. JESUS’ RESPONSE
To Martha’s surprise, Jesus does not tell Mary to help Martha with the meal, though He does respond tenderly to Martha. Jesus said the double address, “Martha, Martha,” this expresses intense concern. Jesus knows her anxiety, but He is utterly concerned with her attitude. Jesus told her, “You are worried and upset about many things.” Jesus gently rebukes her for being distracted and troubled about the domestic responsibilities. Jesus would like to teach Martha to establish priority.
Impliedly, Jesus told Martha, “What is more important: me or the food?” He also longs for Martha’s affection, not just concern for the food, but concern to Him per se. Jesus took that occasion, from the circumstance of the case, to vindicate Mary’s conduct and to direct his loving reproof more pointedly at Martha’s heart, he adds, “Mary had chosen the good part.” Mary had chosen the good part, that is she avails herself of the present opportunity to hear Jesus’ teaching, and inform herself in those things which are essential to the salvation of the soul.
In other words things that are spiritual are greater than physical things…and that’s the good part that Mary has chosen. Things that would edify her soul, things that would strengthen her faith and relationship with Jesus…those are things that will never perish nor consumed.
Psychologist, marriage counselors, relationship grurus of all stripes, warn us not to expect one person to provide for all our emotional, intellectual, and relational needs. We need a variety of relationships, a network of friends, colleagues, basketball buddies, quilting club comrades, elders and peers to meet all our emotional needs.
But what might be true for our human connections does not hold true for our spiritual needs. Our soul needs only “ONE THING”. No matter what’s your denomination. No matter if your spiritual temperament is exuberant, reserved, flamboyant, or meditative. Whether your soul craves cathedrals and organs, or guitars, drums and keyboard, it is all the same as long as we have that “ONE THING.”
And that “one thing” is JESUS.
We have a lot of well-meaning, well-planned, well-organized Martha churches. Never content with “one thing”, these churches are constantly in the “Kitchen” cooking up new stratagems, new plots and plans, new programs. These are not bad things. These are not detrimental. But they are not the “one thing”…helping people connect their heart and lives to Jesus and his teaching.
Our “one thing” is always JESUS. That is why we encourage everyone to read more in the bible this year than last…When that happens, you will have, as Paul writes in Ephesians: “God’s people are to be prepared for works of service, and be built up…In the faith…and in the knowledge of Jesus, the Son of God, and become spiritually mature.”
Christianity is a religion based on a person, not a propositions or regulations. Christians derive their identity, not from principles or even “values” but from a relationship with Jesus.
Brothers and sisters, as we take our journey in this world, we must always choose the good part – that ONE THING – we must always choose JESUS…and the things about Him…MAY WE NOT TRADE WHAT IS ETERNAL TO THINGS THAT ARE TEMPORARY. (HUWAG NATING IPAGPALIT SA ANUMANG KAYAMANAN O RANGYA NG BUHAY, ANUMANG KAABALAHAN ANG ATING PANGINOONG HESUS AT ANG ATING RELASYON SA KANYA.)
Choose the good part!
As I’ve repeated many times when we talk, we are created for a pleasurable relationship with the Creator. We’re not here for our own good pleasure, our friends’ pleasure, our girlfriend’s pleasure or our parents’ good pleasure. We are put here for our 70-80 years of existence for God’s own purposes and good pleasure.
Once realized, I tell you life will be more fun, happier, more joyful, more fulfilling, more rewarding, and it “shall not be taken away from” us for all eternity.