Hearing Jesus 3
Jesus and Mary and Martha
050-00744 Luke 10:38-42
I. There was a legal expert who thought he knew it all. Everywhere he went he would test people with questions designed to demonstrate his great knowledge and his high level of integrity.
A. One day, this fellow was listening to a new yet very popular teacher and as usual he stood up to show off to all those present.
1. “How do you inherit eternal life?” he asked.
2. The teacher was not taken off guard as the man had hoped. In fact he demonstrated an intuitiveness that went to the heart of the questioner. “What does the law say,” he responded.
3. So our expert really did know the law and answered with ease: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
4. The insightful teacher responded, “Do this and you will live.”
5. Now the lawyer took this as a challenge implying that he was not obeying the law he had quoted and began to burn inside a little bit. Why he chose his next words he might not even have known himself, but out they came, “So who is my neighbor?”
B. Luke has set us up well for Jesus’ instruction on the essentials of the law.
1. The lawyer may have felt like he was challenging Jesus, but in the end his challenge was for himself – and for all of us.
2. Today we aren’t used to speaking of eternal life in terms of obeying the law.
3. What is interesting to me is that when I am confronted with this challenge to love God and love my neighbor, I react much like the lawyer. I don’t go to the first part about loving God but I analyze the second part about loving my neighbor.
a) I wonder if I do that because I don’t want to really face the truth that my love for God is on the weak side of things.
(1) After all, I am a pastor. I am supposed to be an example of the believer. I should be able to say, “If you want to know what it looks like to love God watch me.”
(2) And since I know I cannot do that, I know how much I fail in loving God, I don’t want to draw attention to my failures because then you will all know what a fraud I am.
b) On the other hand, maybe I naturally go to the second of the great commands because I know that to love my neighbor is to love God and my heart tells me every day how I fail here as well.
c) I suppose that the lawyer confronting Jesus is more like me than I would want to admit.
4. In the end, though, Jesus gives us what we seek (even though we may not know we are seeking anything) and what we need.
5. Jesus’ commentary on the law comes in the form of two stories, the first a parable many of us know as the Good Samaritan and the second the retelling by Luke of an event the disciples experienced personally.
C. The Good Samaritan is a parable that shows clearly who our neighbor is.
1. Through this parable, Jesus teaches us that to fulfill the law of love we must go beyond our comfort zones and reach out to neighbors who require a love that is inconvenient.
2. Truth be told, loving our neighbors is generally an inconvenience which is what makes it really love!
3. Once Luke reminds us of Jesus’ standard for loving neighbor, he presents us with a story from the life of Jesus that reveals his teaching on how we are to love God.
II. Jesus and the disciples were traveling onward.
A. Luke gives sparse information here because the details may just cloud the issue and distract us from the lesson.
1. Much like Martha was distracted.
2. We should not mistake Martha’s activity and minimize it.
a) Martha opened her home: This was the blessing of hospitality.
b) She had made all kinds of preparations to make Jesus and the disciples comfortable.
c) The work Martha was doing was good work and in a tangible way she is an illustration of loving our neighbor.
d) We don’t know exactly what Martha was so busy doing, but we can all probably guess. Especially if you have ever hosted a gathering for dinner of fifteen or more people.
e) And the more you care for one or all of those people, the more you want to show your love by making sure everything is just right.
f) Martha’s heart was in the right place.
B. Mary, on the other hand, was caught up with socializing. At least that’s how it seemed.
1. When I was young, my mother had a big dinner for all the family every Christmas Eve.
a) I hated that dinner. I also love it because I got to see family that I didn’t get to see all the time and if we were real good we could probably convince our parents to let us open one present.
b) But here’s why I hated it. The house had to be spotless. I didn’t mind the chores so much. But when they were all done, when the house was actually clean, we couldn’t do anything – ANYTHING!
(1) Don’t get that out, it will make a mess.
(2) Don’t touch that, I just cleaned all the fingerprints off of it.
(3) Stay off the carpets, we want to keep them looking nice.
(4) Who washed their hands in the sink and left such a mess!
(5) No you can’t watch TV in the living room, I’ve got the table all set up in there.
c) And then, when the guests all arrived and dinner was ready, I always got put at some little excuse for a table with melmac plates and plastic cups. And even though all of us kids were together we couldn’t have any fun because we were not to disrupt the adult’s conversation.
d) Man I hated Christmas Eve!
2. So here is Martha scurrying about trying to put on this dinner and trying to make everything just right and there is Mary – sitting at the feet of the guest doing nothing! She should be helping. At least offer the hors d’eurves to the guests!
3. Annoyance turns into frustration – “Why can’t she see I need help.”
4. Frustration turns into aggravation – “Look at her. I’m doing all the work and she is getting all the attention.”
5. Aggravation turns into resentment – “Can’t they all see what I am doing for them? Can’t they even recognize how hard I’m working?”
6. Resentment turns into self-righteous anger – “This isn’t right. It’s not fair. It’s like I’m not even here. I can’t stand doing all the work and not even being noticed.”
7. Self-righteous anger results in drawing attention to one’s self. But that’s probably not the kind of attention you would want! “Lord!” (Love the Lord your God) “Can’t you see how hard I’m working here? Can’t you see how much I want to impress you? I’m running around trying to do everything just so you’ll appreciate how nice everything is and no one is even offering to help! Why, my sister is just sitting around listening to your stories doing nothing! Tell her to help me won’t you.”
C. Ok. So now we’ve gotten his attention. Not the way we expected things to turn out, is it?
III. What kind of love is it that demands the attention of the one who is loved?
A. Sure, that’s what we want. Maybe we can find solace in saying that’s what we need.
1. But is that really love?
2. Or maybe more appropriately, who is really the object of your love in a case like that?
3. It’s easy to come down a little hard on Martha. After all, if I judge Martha maybe I can avoid judging myself.
B. Jesus, responds to Martha and his words are wrapped with compassion and concern.
1. Martha, Martha!
2. I can see all that you are doing.
3. I can see how much you care.
4. I can see your desire to please.
5. And I can see your need to be loved.
6. You are worried about so many things.
C. But Martha, there is only one thing that is needed.
1. Other things may be nice.
2. Other things may be good.
3. But other things cannot fill the emptiness of our souls.
4. Busyness cannot fill our emptiness.
5. Flattery and recognition cannot supply what we truly need.
6. There is only one thing that is needed.
7. And Mary has figured it out. Mary has chosen what is good.
8. And I will not let that be taken away from her.
IV. What was it that Mary chose?
A. First let’s ask what it wasn’t.
1. It wasn’t a lifestyle of inactivity.
2. It wasn’t a contemplative life that ignores the physical needs around us.
3. It wasn’t even an abandonment of responsibility.
a) That was Martha’s problem.
b) She saw Mary as irresponsible.
B. But what exactly was it that Mary was doing?
1. Mary sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.
2. This must be the one thing that Jesus said was needed.
3. There was nothing else Mary was doing.
4. She had placed herself under the authority of Jesus – sitting at his feet.
5. And she was listening to what he said.
C. There is a time to put aside all the hustle and bustle of life.
1. There is a time when good activity becomes a distraction to true love.
2. It’s not that Martha was not trying to love the Lord.
3. It’s that there are precious few moments in life when we are bidden to sit at the feet of Jesus and listen to what he says.
D. What Mary chose was a devotion that did not allow anything to keep her from Jesus.
1. Busyness in life is one of the most destructive attributes of the 21st century.
2. We have to be busy all the time – and we use love as our excuse.
a) We work extra hours away from home because we believe we are providing for our families.
b) We cart our children to this place and that place, to this lesson and that game because we believe we are giving them the best opportunities; opportunities we didn’t have when we were children.
c) We plan vacations with detailed agendas.
d) We use calendars and even have to schedule date nights with our mates.
e) We are busy at church too.
f) And all of the busyness is for good. It has good intentions and it is designed to show love.
3. But what we are discovering is that the busyness is not helping us to love. It is distracting us from truly loving.
V. What Mary had was what we all need.
A. Mary chose to give herself to Jesus whereas Martha chose to give her activity.
1. It may not seem like a big difference.
2. And maybe it’s not.
B. Jesus did not allow his disciples to always sit around listening to his teaching.
1. He also had them go out into the world and live his teaching.
2. But there was always time for both.
3. And the activity flowed out of the relationship.
C. You know, there is no need of impressing someone who truly loves you.
1. Unfortunately, in our whirlwind of a world, many of us feel a deep need for acceptance.
2. Many never heard from their parents the words “I love you.”
3. Many never got time with mom playing games and reading books or with dad playing catch and jumping into piles of leaves.
4. There just isn’t time.
D. But there is one who always has the time for us. There is one who comes to our homes and doesn’t need steak and lobster. A hot dog will do just fine.
1. As long as we can eat it together.