Jesus and Everything Else

Mary and Martha

[Unfortunately, the video of this service, including the sermon, did not get posted to Facebook, so it was not saved. The text of the sermon is below.]

In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

This is a well-known account from Luke’s Gospel, about a time that Jesus was at the house of Martha and Mary in Bethany. Jesus seems to often stop here on His way to Jerusalem, and of course you know about the time Jesus raised their brother Lazarus from the dead. This passage is strangely intriguing to people. I thought there was one book using Mary and Martha as examples, but when I looked it up, I found at least ten books written about how Mary and Martha apply to us. Ten—none of which I’ve read, so I can’t tell you if they’re any good. But obviously there’s something that people find interesting about this interaction between Martha and Jesus (since Mary doesn’t say anything here).

But there are at least two misunderstandings about what happens here. The first is that Jesus is comparing Mary and Martha. It would be easy to think that what’s happening here is that Martha is doing bad or wrong things, and Mary is doing a good and right thing. Of course, Mary is doing a good and right thing, but is it true that Martha is doing something bad or wrong? Notice that Jesus does not rebuke Martha for the things she is doing. As far as we can tell, Jesus never goes to wherever Martha is busily working and tells her that she needs to stop and come and sit by Mary. It is not recorded that Mary brags about how much more pious and holy she is because she’s listening to Jesus while Martha is just doing housework, or something.

No, the problem is not that what Martha is doing is wrong. It is not until she comes to Jesus and tells Him that He should tell Mary to help Martha out. Jesus only speaks to her about what she’s doing when she tries to take Mary away from the feet of Jesus. The comparison here is not between Mary and Martha.

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