Hard Scriptures “The Ministry of Martha and Mary.”
As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “You are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one.f Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.Luke10;38-42”
When you read the scriptures regarding Martha and Mary in Luke10:38-42. Mary may appear to have been seated at the feet of Jesus Christ physical while Martha seems to have been working very hard in serving the people with food at their Home. The whole concept seem to be about cooking and serving food and preparations. While Mary being seated at Jesus’ feet only listening to Jesus Christ and doing nothing. Of course to some extent with our carnal mind you would think that Mary was doing nothing and Martha was doing a great job.
Luke records the incidents very well and gives us what had happened at the beginning of the scriptures and even goes ahead to reveal that Martha was distracted by many preparations and of which Luke does not mention whether they were meal preparations, in understanding of the scripture. Luke tries to give a contrast of Two Ministries of Martha and Mary. One of which one being the Ministry of Service (caring for the poor) and the other being “The Ministry of Evangelism”. The two Ministries are both valid in the church today and are needed in the church, in earlier start of the scripture Luke10; Jesus Christ had sent the 72 disciples and Mary was amongst the 72 disciples sent in delivering the gospel in the surrounding areas of course in guidance of what Jesus Christ had told the disciples. However, Martha had remained at Home (at the Main church) caring for the poor and serving them and she was wanted to meet every need of the person who wanted care which is very hard.
Martha felt overburdened because she wanted to care for everyone and she thought Mary could have remained behind to work with her at Ministry of Service rather than ministry of evangelism. In most cases Christians who remain at the church may seem being left out by the Lord Jesus Christ because they are not sent out, and also those who are sent out to preach the gospel may seem more relevant than those who remain at the church in modern Christianity yet it’s not true, both Ministries are very valid in Jesus Christ eyes but one has chooses the good part. The most difficult part is “disciples who sat at the feet of Jesus Christ”. It may seem as if people were physically seated with Jesus Christ in reality. However, that means that disciples understood the gospel when Jesus Christ preached and went to practice what He had taught,” in reference of the scripture “those who sat at the feet of Jesus Christ listening” this reference speaks of past tense, which means they heard the gospel of Jesus Christ and went ahead to deliver what they learnt and amongst them was Mary.
I am sure that most women feel the way Martha felt in preparation of Meals, but usually it will because their husband is leaving them to prepare the meal, while he sits and talks about the ball game. But that is not the reason that this incident got into the gospels (Luke 10:38-42).
To understand Martha’s situation we must interpret the incident in terms of what went before. The chapter begins with seventy disciples being sent out in pairs to live for a time in the towns and villages that Jesus was planning to visit. This was followed by the parable of the Good Samaritan. Both are relevant to Martha’s situation.
Her are four important observations about Luke’s account of the incident.
- The words “into the house” are a later addition to the Greek text. Jesus and some disciples came into the village where Martha lived. Luke says that Martha met him, but he did not say they went into the house. There is no mention of preparing a meal.
- Mary was not there. She never speaks and Jesus never speaks to her. Jesus would not have a conversation about her in her presence without addressing her, so clearly she was not there.
- The word used to describe what Martha was doing is “diakoneo”. Throughout the New Testament this word is used to describe a ministry of service to people in need (Acts 6:1-7). The English word Deaconis derived from it. It is unfair, and bad translation, to translate it here as “preparing a meal”, just because Martha was a women. Stephen and Philip are described as deacons, not as kitchenhands, so Martha should be given the same respect.
- The word “also” is missing from most translations of Luke 10:39. Luke says that Martha had a sister who “also sat at Jesus feet” and heard his words, i.e. both women “sat at Jesus feet”. “Sit at the feet” was a common expression to describe a person who has chosen to be a disciple of master/teacher. Luke is saying that both Martha and Mary were disciples of Jesus. Mary was not sitting on the lounge floor while Martha worked in the kitchen. Luke was explaining that Martha and Mary had committed to being Jesus disciples, and to putting his words into practice.
The passage should read as follows.
As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha welcomed him. She had a sister called Mary, who was also a disciple of the Lord, who had heard his teaching. But Martha was distracted by many works of service. She stood by him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me alone to carry on this ministry of service? Ask her to return and help me!”
But Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed. Mary has chosen a good part, which will not be taken away from her
Martha was busy doing works of service for the needy people of the village. The preceding verses described the Good Samaritan’s care of the man wounded by bandits. Mary and Martha had heard Jesus’ message and committing to serving the poor and weak people living in their village. Now Mary had seemingly gone away and left Martha to carry on the work on her own.
Jesus knew where Mary was, but Martha did not, so she asked Jesus to get Martha to come back and support her.
The key to where Mary had gone is found at the beginning of the chapter. Jesus had sent seventy disciples out in pairs to stay in the towns and villages he would visit. As a devoted disciple of Jesus, Mary must have heeded the call of Jesus and gone out to share the gospel in one of these villages. Martha had stayed at home to continue serving the people of the village.
Martha was frustrated because she had so much to do. Jesus said that only one thing is needed. That is to obey him. Obeying Jesus is all that is required.
Martha should focus on doing Jesus will, rather than trying to meet every need she could see.
Jesus said that was Mary had chosen a “good part” of Jesus will and would not be taken away from her. The Greek word is “agathe”. Many translations have “better”, but “good” is just a valid. Jesus did not say that what Mary was doing was better than what Martha was doing. They were both doing his will.
Mary had chosen a good part of his will, so that would not be taken from her. Going out to new places is part of Jesus will. It must not be sacrificed to continue the work at home.
In any church, there will be a tension between those who are sent out to start something new and those who remain behind to keep things going. Luke 10 explains that both are valid ministries. The first part of the chapter explains that being sent out is good. The parable of the Good Samaritan validates those who stay back and care for those in need. The incident of Mary and Martha illustrates the tension between the two callings.
Jesus affirmed both callings. Those are sent must not think they are better than those who remain. Those who remain will sometimes be under pressure, but they must not condemn those who have been sent out.
Some of the lessons we can learn from the scriptures is not focus on what we are doing, but rather focus on the ministry God has given through Jesus Christ whether its valid, Martha could have thought she was working very hard and Yet in reality she was just destructed she could have focused much on what Jesus Christ was not concerned about, she promoted and exalted her ministry minus understanding the view of Jesus Christ on her ministry, in most cases Christians like justifying their ministries thinking they have done a great Job, Jesus Christ sees more than we do, We might find many holes in our Ministry we if exalt our service before others.
Mary choose a good part, This means listened very to the voice of God in her ministry than Martha was not doing bad in her ministry except that she was doing the work by herself and she got exhausted and the Ministry became very heavy. Martha could have been doing intercession, Caring for the poor in the church as her worked seemed heavy. In relation to modern Christians, those who remain at the church may appear to be working very hard than those sent out, their ministries may appear heavier than those sent out which is not true. In the ministry or service the most important part is to hear the voice of God and do what He tells you to do. If you do a lot of things by yourself, you may end up just like Martha and when the Holy Spirit assigns you work, it comes with Grace and you feel no heaviness, while the work you give yourself may be heavier after all there is no grace to carry it. The best way to take the good part in the Ministry of Jesus Christ is obedience, Jesus Christ requires obedience than the rest of works you may do and work. Martha’s ministry appeared to be more relevant just because she had many people she was attending to, caring about the poor, most of them could have been her own responsibility not directed by Jesus Christ, she weighed the amount of work she was doing than focusing on the validity of her ministry in the eyes of Jesus Christ rather than Mary.
Ministry comparisons is prohibited, Martha only compared her work against the work of Mary, to her Mary seemed to have been doing nothing and her work was more important than that of Mary, that means comparing the Ministries in the service of God, and Jesus Christ gave a better view of the two ministries and did not despise any of the ministry nor did he exalt the other ministries, Jesus Christ was very careful not throw the baby in the bath tab while bathing the baby. According to Jesus Christ, the most important thing in his ministry is listening to his Voice and be obedient to what He is saying. If we follow our instincts we may do work in vain and waste ourselves out just like Martha. So comparing our ministries is irrelevant and does not work in the eyes of Jesus Christ. A Christian who listens to the voice of the Holy Spirit and does what He has revealed is more valid than the one who takes much time on the street from morning to evening preaching the gospel not sent by the Holy Spirit, in fact Jesus’ view that Christian may seem self-sent Christian, it’s not amount of time you take to do a certain task, but it all depends whether you are doing God’s will by obeying his Voice, if you hear the voice of God and do what He wants then you will relevant before him, then you have chosen the good part like Mary, the sister to Martha. If someone is directed by the Holy Spirit to go and give and that person does it, then He or she has heard the voice of the Holy Spirit, she has worked 100% than a person who may spend the entire day praying without direction of the Holy Spirit.( Obedience outweighs Works without direction).
Many Christians are worried about many things at the church yet one thing required. That is obedience, obedience is much required than what we may feel and do, modern Christians are worried about many things Yet Jesus Christ requires our obedience whether we are doing His will or not, worry may not take away the problems at Hand, the best way to serve in the ministry is to focus on Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit direction, otherwise we can get obstructed by many things if we are following our own intuition. In most cases in the current there may be many things to do but a few people to attend to them, financial support, building, preaching the gospel, reaching out to the poor, in that kind of dilemma many Christians are obstructed by them and they want to touch everything at the same time, Yet Jesus Christ may require to do one thing at ago. So Christians often get destructed and obstructed and begin shooting bullets at a wrong target. Intercessors may start interceding on the things which God is not willing to work on. So a Christian under obedience in the direction of the Holy Spirit will have to appear more relevant before the Eyes of God, than 100 Christians praying for something God has not ordained” Lack of Direction in the Church”. Martha was really doing a great job but she only lacked direction, she wanted to solve everything in her might yet Jesus Christ was focusing on something else. Even modern Christians have gone in the way of Martha and keep blaming others for not work. Working for God not does not mean always going to church to intercede, God does things uniquely, even that one who has been instructed to intercede once a week and does it will be paid 100% same as that one who intercedes thrice a week, what is Key here listening to the Voice of the Holy Spirit to do the will of God.
Martha demonstrates a correct view of burden bearing by approaching Jesus Christ for support, many Christians want to carry burdens and never want support from Jesus Christ, Martha was very sincere with herself, instead of shying away and the burdens kill her she decided to seek for support from Jesus Christ help which is very good thing to do rather than do things as if we are doing them right Yet we are a Mess. We need honesty in ministry when we can’t do things we should approach the boss of the Job to help us or if the work needs more people He will advise instead of Keeping quiet with our problems unsolved and we retard the work of God. I am very sure Martha was relieved after Jesus Christ had answered her query. (Wrong Work Perception of Christians in the Church Today.
In conclusion as Christian’s today direction of the Holy Spirit is more important than the work we are doing, otherwise we might find this Word in the presence of Him who justifies and judges righteously “I never Knew you” get away from my presence. As we try to move our ministries lets seek for the Jesus Christ validation for our ministries than ourselves. Martha approached Jesus Christ to get a right answer and indeed she found a right answer from Him who weighs righteously. Martha you are worried about Many things, yet one thing is required, I wish we can follow the same trend of Martha, Jesus Christ seemed like a friend, a brother and the Lord, and she is not hesitant to ask him to carry away her burden by seeking support from which is very good thing to do when things are not well going with us. Instead of pocketing our hands and appear to be okay and yet grumble inside and spoil our relationship with Jesus Christ.
Brethren, Let’s keep our Eyes fixed on Jesus Christ who justifies and validates our ministry rather than public justification which does not mean anything in the Eyes of God, the public may see you doing Great work but to God no work done. Be watchful, lest you work in vain, let’s take the lessons of Martha and Mary. Peace be with you. And the Grace of Our Lord Jesus Christ and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you Forever Amen.
I remain Asher Namanya, the fellow laborer in the Word of Truth, in season or out of season, God bless you all and Wish you a Merry Christmas and Happy New year in the Spiritual growth in all Discernments, Wisdom, and in the knowledge of God through Christ Jesus in the witness of the Holy Spirit. I love you All.