Luke 10:38-42 Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word. 40 But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me. 41 And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: 42 But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.
I’ve read so many messages and devotionals about Mary and Martha, many of which were excellent! Here we have two sisters who must have been very close to one another because they were living together, along with their brother, Lazarus. They were dear friends of Jesus.
But in my readings today, I noticed something different about Mary and Martha. Notice in verse 39 – “Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word.” Mary ALSO sat at Jesus’ feet tells me that Martha sat at Christ’s feet as well. What made that day any different?
Luke 10:40 answers my question. Martha was “cumbered about much serving.” Martha allowed those everyday things to interfere with her time at Jesus’ feet. She chose to let these earthly cares take precedence over her spiritual life. Noah Webster’s 1828 Dictionary defines cumber as:
To perplex or embarrass; to distract or trouble.
Martha was distracted and troubled about the work she was doing. She probably allowed her labor of love to turn into a burden.When I’m baking something special for my husband, I do it with much love. I’m so anxious for him to come home from work to taste what I’ve worked hard to do just for him. Martha’s thoughts were consumed by the work itself and she forgot for whom she was doing the work. (I Corinthians 10:31)
I also found something else interesting about Luke 10:40. I don’t know about you, but I am more comfortable saying what is on my mind to my brother or sister than with anyone else I know. I am more apt to speak freely with them. Then why in the world would Martha not go to her sister to complain about being alone in the kitchen? If it were me, I would have gone to my sister and said, “Hey, come one now, I’m doing all the work! Come in the kitchen and help me so I can sit down as well!” Wouldn’t you?
So why would Martha chose to go to the Lord and ask Him to tell Mary to help her? Don’t you find that strange, as well? Could it be that Martha wanted Jesus to see all that she was doing so she could get the credit for all her work? Do you think she wanted Jesus to notice all that she had done? Jesus saw right through that, I believe. His response was that of great love for a friend, yet He cut to the heart of Martha’s problem. He said, “Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things:” Noah Webster’s 1828 Dictionary defines “careful” in this manner:
Full of care; anxious; solicitous.
He also defines “solicitous” as:
Careful; anxious; very desirous, as to obtain something. Men are often more solicitous to obtain the favor of their king or of the people, than of their Maker.
Wow, that opens up the picture I was trying to paint here, in my opinion. Martha wanted recognition for her work – not unlike the Pharisees when they stood in the market place praying for all to see. But the Lord was kind. He knew her heart and He did not treat her as He did the Pharisees. Notice He did not call her a viper as He did them? He loved her and He wanted to help her and teach her.
What did Christ teach Martha? He pointed out her sin and then showed her what to do by explaining to her that the needful thing for her was to choose the better thing, which was to sit and learn at His feet. Yes, you and I have a lot of work to do in our homes. In fact, it’s never ending But am I like Martha? Do I do the work with ulterior motives in mind? Do I want recognition for all that I do? I should do all things for His glory, including my housework!
Another lesson learned for me is that I start my day at the feet of the Lord Jesus. I need my daily spiritual bread to strengthen my arms to make me ready for my day! I must chose what is needful and that good part which will never be taken away from me.