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Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Mary and Martha: Friends of Jesus

I am blessed to have a sister. Kim is a few years older than me, and although she probably thought I was a pest while we were growing up, we had a lot of good times together. But even though we're sisters, we are very different from each other.

The Bible tells us about two sisters: Mary and Martha. Their brother was Lazarus, the very same Lazarus whom Jesus raised from the dead (John 11). But before that amazing event took place, Mary and Martha were simply friends of Jesus. He came to their home. He ate their food. He talked with them. He laughed with them. What a wonderful thing, being friends with Jesus!!

"As Jesus and his disciples were on their way [to Jerusalem], he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary..." Luke 10:38-39

Like my sister and me, Mary and Martha were very different from each other. They had different ideas of what needed to be done, of what was important.

"She had a sister called Mary who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made." (v. 39-40)

A few years ago as I was reading this passage, God opened my eyes to something. Something that would change my entire outlook on 'serving.' Martha was a doer. Food needed to be prepared. Dishes cleaned. Floors swept. She wanted to do these things for her Lord Jesus. And yes, they needed to be done. But notice what Luke, the author, says about Martha:

  "...she was distracted..."

That's not a good thing. Because when we are distracted, it means we're missing something important that's taking place elsewhere. What was Jesus saying in the other room while Martha was in the kitchen? She'll never know! 

But Mary "sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said."

Mary was doing exactly what was right. How do I know? Jesus said so.

"[Martha] came to [Jesus] 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, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her." (v. 40-41)

How many of us are so distracted by "doing" for the Lord that we neglect "listening" to what he is saying? (Picture me inching my hand up, embarrassed.) 

How many of us get so caught up in all the many ministries we're involved in that we forget the "one thing" that is needed, which is time spent with the Lord?

In the margin of my Bible I have written: "Jesus wants ME, not my works for Him!" It is dated August 16, 2000. 

Serving the Lord is important. Work has to be done. Meals have to be prepared. Churches have to be cleaned. Volunteers are needed in every church, every week. The famous "80/20" ratio is not proof that people are spending more time listening than working. It's actually proof of the exact opposite in my opinion. (In case you don't know what I'm talking about, studies show that 20% of church members do all the work while 80% don't do anything at all.)

I think Martha took Jesus' words to heart. The scriptures don't tell us what happened next, but I imagine Martha looked into Jesus' beautiful face, saw his love for her, and fell at his feet, ashamed. And I imagine Jesus reached down to lift her up, wiped her tears away and said, "Come, daughter. Come and sit with me." And I imagine they ate cold meat and bread for dinner, which was just fine with Jesus. 

Jesus was their Lord--"Yes, Lord," [Martha told him], "I believe that you are the Son of God, who was to come into the world" (John 11:27)--but He was also their friend--"Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus." (John 11:5) He wept when he saw Mary's tears over her brother's death (John 11:35). Martha opened her home to Jesus. Mary sat at his feet and listened. They loved him. They served him. They trusted him.

It's a beautiful thing to call Jesus friend!

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This week's Prayer Shout-Out countries are:
USA, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Russia, Netherlands, Brazil, Germany, United Kingdom, Ukraine, France, Sweden, Guyana

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