Many who hear this story of Mary and Martha feel confused. It can feel like a no-win story.
Martha is not only busy, but she is anxious about ensuring there is practical hospitality to offer to Jesus. Someone has to clean the house. Someone has to butcher the goat. Someone has to bake the bread. It won’t just magically happen on its own.
Mary sets the bustle of the household aside. She sits at Jesus’ feet to listen with rapt attention to his teaching. She wants to receive all the life, encouragement and hope that comes through Jesus’ words.
We need and want both. We want to serve and offer excellent hospitality. And we want to be spiritually nourished and challenged. So when Jesus says that Mary has chosen the better way, sometimes it can feel like hospitality is being relegated to lesser importance.
I don’t think this is what Jesus is saying.
Jesus is concerned about Martha’s levels of anxiety and worry. And when she vents resentment towards Mary, Jesus gently invites her to a place of rest.
Jesus doesn’t say that a clean house or excellent food is wrong. Martha’s activities weren’t the problem. Her stress was.
Jesus wants Martha to experience the rest that Mary had chosen to receive. This rest comes from knowing that we are the Beloved children of God – whether the bread is baked or not.
Whether your gift is hospitality or studying the Scriptures, everyone is invited to live within the rhythm of grace and rest that allows our spirit to connect with God’s Spirit. Whether we find ourselves more like Martha or more like Mary, let’s remember that Jesus loved both sisters with a deep and passionate love that invited them to discover their rest, their security and their confidence in him.
Gracious and loving God
Throughout your Word you invite us to find our rest in you. Help us to trust you more so that we don’t have to be so anxious.
Through Jesus Christ, the lover of our souls, we pray. Amen.