Written by Thomas Kilian, Program Manager and Chaplain
It is essential to be with and in Christ rather than trying to work to gain salvation” is a truth that we may accept about our spiritual salvation. Still, we may not necessarily think it relevant to pull this truth down into the ordinariness of everyday life. Yet, it is what Jesus made evident to the two sisters at a dinner they hosted. Luke's book records the event:
Now, as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her” — Luke 10:38-42 (ESV)
Martha has responded to a social obligation. Being a homeowner, she has invited Jesus and His disciples into her home to show hospitality. Her sister Mary reacted differently. Mary is at the feet of Jesus, enamored with Jesus and His teachings as a Rabbi. She's listening to a man who broke social order—welcoming a woman into participation in a discussion with men. Probably in a frenzy, social obligations got the best of Martha’s humanity as she was dead-set on proving Mary to be of no help—a bum of the streets. Martha could have politely invited her sister into the kitchen, but like a law keeper, Martha bypasses her sister and rushes to “expose” her to Jesus. Martha is trying to get Jesus to stand up for her expectations.
Oddly enough, Jesus responds to calm her down but does not bless her with extra hands to work the tables. “Martha, Martha,” He weighs in, “you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary.” Her perceived need was out of focus and misplaced, leaving her stressed out and a nervous wreck. It is not hard to believe that Martha's state of being in this event may have very well been the state of her inner being all the time. As Trent C. Butler writes, “Her life was out of focus, dedicated to fulfilling the world's expectations rather than Jesus'." While she concerned herself with the perceived need to perform socially, Martha was neglecting life’s one essential need: to hear the voice of God and be utterly enthralled to be with Him. Jesus reveals how Maratha is taking a temporary position in life that will be taken away from her. In contrast, her sister Mary had “chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”
The main idea here is how commitment to Jesus is more important than all other obligations. We must not choose to follow the world's expectations, and all who have must change our priorities to listen to the voice of God. All else is secondary. Each day presents us with such a decision—to be with Jesus or be busy and distract ourselves to the point of missing life's vision completely.