Walking in Truth Devotional Update
Jesus Visits in the Home of Mary and Martha
Jesus arrived in the village of Bethany where Mary, her sister Martha, and their brother Lazarus lived (John 11:1), although he is not mentioned in this visit. We know very little about their background other than they appeared not to be married but comparatively well-off and independent. From John 11 we learn that Jesus loved all three of them. John also informs us that it was this Mary who anointed the Lord with fragrant oil and wiped His feet with her hair.
Even though the text mentioned that Martha welcomed Jesus into her house, Jesus was traveling with some of His followers which could have been 12 apostles and some of the women who supported Jesus (Luke 8:1-3). Therefore, fixing a meal for that many would have been quite a chore.
While Martha was preparing a meal for Jesus and His disciples Mary was sitting at the feet of Jesus and listening to His word. At that time sitting at someone’s feet meant that one was being trained as a disciple. It may have been that Jesus was challenging the view of woman as held by the people of that day. When the disciples came back they were shocked because Jesus was speaking with a woman (John 4:27). It wasn’t just the fact of Jesus speaking with a Samaritan. They were shocked because it was a woman. A Jewish Rabbi Eliezer, from around the time of Jesus, is famous for saying: “Instructing a woman in the Law is like teaching her blasphemy,” “Let the Law be burned rather than entrusted to a woman,” “A woman’s wisdom is limited to the handling of the distaff” (meaning the work of women). While other Rabbis did not agree, the mainstream of society frowned on a woman being taught the Word of God. That Mary was comfortable sitting at the feet of Jesus may indicate that Jesus had established a precedent previously. Along this same line, do you remember when His mother and brothers wanted to speak with Jesus, He answered and said, “Who is My mother and who are My brothers?’ And He stretched out His hand toward His disciples and said, “Here are My mother and MY brothers! For whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother” (Matt. 12:46-50). Observe, there are not just brothers in the family of God, but mothers and sisters also.
Back to our story, Martha was frustrated that Mary was not helping her prepare the meal. I think it is quite interesting that Martha felt comfortable to rebuke Jesus, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore, tell her to help me.” The record states that Martha was distracted. The word translated “distracted” is Greek perispao,and means, “1. ‘be pulled or dragged away.’ 2. ‘become or be distracted, quite busy, overburdened.” Notice Martha does not rebuke her sister Mary, but rather Jesus and appears to be rude to her guest. Martha is feeling like she has more to do than she can do herself.
Jesus seems to calm her by saying, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken from her’” (Luke 10:39-42). Jesus recognized that she had a problem and needed help, but He took the opportunity to teach a much-needed lesson for all mankind. Jesus is teaching that a person’s allegiance to following Him is higher than any other human responsibility. Jesus taught this time and again. While Martha was faithfully serving others, and this is a great lesson, following Jesus first and foremost takes precedence. The way we demonstrate that we truly love God and want to put Him first is by keeping His commandments (I John 5:3; I John 2:4-5).
German writer Johann Wolfgang von Goethe grasped the importance of priorities. He said, “Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.” André van Belkum said, “Establishing the correct priorities in our lives is vital for our success as Christians.” This is exactly what Mary did and Jesus commended her when He said, “But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”
May I ask you, “What is your greatest priority in life?”
By Guy Roberson
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