(By Rachel Joyce)
The annoyance on Martha’s face could be seen from across the room as she rushed around, fixing the table, putting the last touches on the dishes, making sure everything was perfect for the Master. Her mind raced in a thousand directions as she hustled from the kitchen to table and back again. Hurry, hurry, hurry. What on earth was Mary doing sitting near the Rabbi and why wasn’t she helping? How dare she sit there at His feet like a disciple? So inappropriate! Good girls didn’t do that—sit entranced at the Rabbi’s feet as though nothing else mattered but the words from His lips. There was more food to be put out on the tables. Work to be done. His teaching was important, yes, but that was for the men. Why wasn’t Jesus correcting her? Luke 10:40:
Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.
Tell her! Not only did Martha question the Savior’s love, but in her stress, she also corrected the Messiah. “Tell her then to help me.” But the gentle Jesus responded to her querulous demand, “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 away from her” (Luke 10:41-42).
“Martha, Martha.” The Master lovingly spoke her name. He knew her strengths and her flaws, yet neither impacted His love for her and His acceptance of her. He loved her because He loved her. He understood her love for Him which undergirded all her service, but He also saw her stressed and frantic heart. He knew she was pulled apart by anxieties and worries. The details of the evening had distracted her from what was paramount.
“You are anxious and troubled about many things.” In the original text, the word anxious, merimnaō, means to be troubled with cares (Thayer’s Greek Definitions). It includes the idea of being distracted by cares and concerns. It’s linked to the verb merino which means to be drawn in different directions (Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words). Have you ever been there? So burdened by concerns that you felt pulled in a million directions? Finding it hard to focus, hard to keep going? When we’re in that state, it’s easy to get so sidetracked by small things that we miss what’s most important. Martha did. She was so stressed out about the details of the evening that her heart was troubled. The word troubled in the original text is turbazō. It means to make turbid, to disturb. Picture a churning sea, littered with debris, whipped by hurricane winds into a seething frenzy of foam and fragments. Far too often, my heart is like Martha’s. Busy. Distracted. Stressed with all my responsibilities.
“But one thing is needful.” Our hearts need Jesus, not just for salvation, but every day. In a world that is filled with stress and turmoil, we need to rest at His feet and hear His life-giving words. We need to experience the joy of His nearness. We need to feel His love and know that we will be ok because we are His and He (oh glorious truth) is ours. As we rest in that place of nearness, our hearts cease their frantic racing and begin to beat in sync with His. Our hearts beat to the rhythm of the Divine.
“Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” The good portion, the good “allotment” is our inheritance. As His sons and daughters, we have Him, the Lord of glory. He is our Savior, our Lord, our all. As His children, we have the privilege of nearness with Him. He bids us give Him all our cares and worries. He doesn’t want them distracting us from the one thing that is needful—Himself. He is the source of all our joy, all our peace, all our hope. When we have Him, we have all we need.
Oh, Lord, help us to rest at Your feet and learn of You. Pull together our distracted minds and the churning fragments of our hearts and help us to keep our eyes fixed on You, our hearts steadied by Your love, our minds filled with Your glory. Let our hearts exult in You and may we worship you in the awareness that You delight in having us near. That good portion will never be taken from us. We are Yours and You are ours forevermore.