Come and Rest at My Feet

Looking at the Story of Mary and Martha

Good Morning!

I’m finally back on track. The last couple of weeks have been crazy, my train called “somewhat normal” became derailed, careened down a hill, and went boom!

Friday I was able to take a breath and get my train back on track again. During these days of craziness, I got thinking, scary isn’t it? Life gets messy; chaotic, crazy, it can take you on a roller-coaster that never seems to stop. It can get very overwhelming, and when that happens, we have two options of reactions. We can take a breath and chill for a moment, or we let the wheels come off the wagon and overreact.

Two sisters in the Bible did one of each reaction, and only one was worth it.

Luke 10 has 42 verses, the beginning verses are somewhat complex; Jesus is sending laborers to His harvest field, then later Jesus gives the Parable of the Good Smartian, but in the last five verses, the message is quite powerful.

Luke 10:38 says

Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house.

The ‘they’ meant Jesus and His followers, just over 70 people, and the village was Bethany. This was the home of Mary, Maratha, and their brother Lazarus.

When they entered Bethany, Maratha greeted Jesus and welcomed them come into the house. Now when Jesus had come into the home, two reactions ensued. Mary immediately sat at Jesus’ feet, while Martha let the wheels come off the wagon.

But, let’s go back a bit. Although it doesn’t say it, I’m assuming Jesus and His 70+ followers just showed up. There was no calling ahead, they just appeared.

Now, Martha, without a doubt, had the gift of hospitality. She invited 70+ people, into her home, unprepared.

Can you imagine? Over 70 people, including Jesus, suddenly coming into your home? I might panic a bit.

When Jesus and His followers came in, each sister had a different reaction. Let’s look at Martha’s reaction first.

Typical woman of the time would be in the kitchen and serving the guests, so she was doing what was expected of her, and what was normal.

Martha was making sure everyone was fed and taken care of, but soon she became overwhelmed and the wheels began to come off the wagon. You see, during this time, Mary was not helping her sister. Where was she? Sitting at the feet of Jesus, and Martha was frustrated. And she was about to let Jesus and Mary know it!

Now, before we get to Martha’s outburst, let’s talk about Mary of Bethany. Unlike Martha, Mary was not your traditional woman, she didn’t go with the norm. And it is very obvious from our passage; Mary was sitting at the feet of Jesus, a Rabbi, that was unthinkable.

In Bible times, girls stayed home and were taught how to run the house, while boys went to school. Women could only congregate in the Women’s Court of the Temple, nowhere near the men. So, for Mary to sit down at the feet of Jesus and listen to His teaching among a group of men was simply not done.

There are few passages that we come across regarding Mary of Bethany (not to be confused with Mary Magdalene) but when we do read about her, she is not doing the norm.

Because on the occasions we do see her, Mary of Bethany is in the same place- at the feet of Jesus.

When Jesus returns to their home after her brother Lazarus died, she went to Jesus and “fell at his feet.” (John 11:32).

Just six days before the Passover, Mary was present at a dinner given in Jesus’ honor.  Again, with Martha serving, Mary took expensive perfume and poured it on Jesus’ feet.  She sat and wiped his feet with her long hair. (John 12:1-10)

Mary seems to have a deeply spiritual side.  She is willing to forego the traditions of the day to learn all she could of Jesus’ teaching. This was partly the reason Martha was blowing a gasket; woman served, not sit at the feet of a Rabbi. Martha marched right over to them and vented her frustration.

Luke 10:40 says

But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.”

There is almost a bit of humor in this. Imagine; Jesus is sitting in a room full of people, Mary at His feet, He is probably teaching, and Martha just burst right in, not caring who or what she was interrupting.

She was frustrated, and who was she venting to? Only Jesus.

And He sensed her anger and distraction. He felt her worry and anxiety. He knew—just as He knows with each one of us right now—that she needed a mighty word of truth that would call her to a greater purpose and deeper peace.

Luke 10:41-42

41 And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things.

42 But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”

Jesus’ reply has to be broken down a bit to fully understand what He’s saying. First, He says Martha’s name twice, and I’m sure He said it calmly. Because Martha is boiling over and overwhelmed, and by saying her name twice, Jesus gets her attention. And with that, He also helps Martha realize He didn’t have Martha’s full attention, her work did.

God does not or should not, take a backseat. He is not a backup plan, or a plan B, C, D, or E. He isn’t a last-minute resort, as the Creator of the Universe, He deserves to be first and foremost in our lives. Martha was learning that even though she was doing all sorts of good things, she had her priorities backward.

In her mind, Martha probably thought she was doing as an act of service. Being hospitable and serving others is, after all, biblical as Jesus Himself stated. On the surface, Jesus’ correction might not make sense, but He wasn’t condemning Martha’s service of hospitality, He was concerned that Martha was distracted and that she was trying to do more than was necessary.

Instead of finding emotional and spiritual rest with Jesus, Martha was troubling herself with all the preparations surrounding Him. And because Jesus looks at the heart, He realized Martha was preoccupied and stressed.

Often we think we must handle everything on our own. And all we see is what isn’t fair and complain about it. We don’t ask God; we tell Him. I think we sometimes forget the power of His presence. And we doubt that He cares for our needs even though He’s sitting right in front of us.

Martha desperately wanted to do the right thing, but she got distracted. She let her actions override her affections.

One might think Mary took the easy way out, but look at what Jesus said at the end of the verse

42 But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”

He wasn’t suggesting Martha’s service to others was bad. He was just reminding them that Mary’s decision to sit with Jesus was better.

Mary realized Jesus was the ultimate source of everything her heart desired and needed. She sensed it, felt it and believed it. The purpose was found in Him—not in her service, not in the approval of man, not in appearances, not in physical sustenance or a put-together home. In Him alone.

So, what can we learn from all this? Well, first, we all have a bit of Mary and Martha inside us. Sometimes more often than not, the Martha side wins out, we let our circumstances overwhelm us, we let the wheels come off the wagon. We let our priorities control us and soon are frustrated and ready to burst.

We don’t have to let it get that far, when we feel ourselves start to get overwhelmed, run to the feet of Jesus for peace, for that quiet time to refresh your spirit.

Getting worked up and anxious doesn’t solve anything, going to Jesus does.

Chaos will always be calling, but so does Jesus. Don’t let your busy schedule and acts of service get in the way of spending time at the feet of Jesus.

He is our ultimate priority. God is patient with us because He knows our hearts. He knows we are anxious about everything. He knows we need a raging peace—a peace so overwhelming and powerful that it surpasses all understanding as it guards our hearts and minds.

Past Posts to catch up on

This Is My Homeland

The Immutability of God – Looking at the Attributes of God