We are familiar with the story of Mary and Martha in Luke 10:38-42. Martha is preparing a meal for Jesus but her sister Mary is not much help because she is sitting at Jesus feet listening to what he said. Martha gets upset because Mary isn’t pulling her weight and helping. Martha wants Jesus to tell Mary to help her but Jesus says that Mary has chosen the better thing by sitting at his feet in fellowship.
Many people have given Martha a bad rap over the years as we use the phrase, “Be a Mary and not a Martha.” I don’t think the point of this passage is to say that Martha was bad and Mary was good. They both were good. We should learn that we can’t make another person the way God wired us. We need to celebrate our differences and yet submit ourselves completely to God with the way he has made us.
Did you know that I sat in camp meeting this summer between Mary and Martha? It was not an easy task to do. They were fighting back and forth the whole service. One said, “this,” the other said, “that.” I could hardly keep the noise down because of their complaining about each other. Ok, maybe it wasn’t all that bad. Yes, I did sit between Mary and Martha. They actually rode together each day to go the service. The truth is that they were not actually fighting. I just made that up for fun. It was fun to tell people that though. Mary Honecker and Martha Weigman just rolled their eyes.
There is another passage in John 12 where Martha serves a meal. Jesus must have eaten at Martha and Mary’s house several times. This one is before the triumphal entry into Jerusalem. We celebrate that on Palm Sunday. It is the beginning of Holy Week. Lazarus and the disciples are there too. Martha, in only the way she could do it, served up another great meal. This occasion was to celebrate the raising of Lazarus from the dead. I would have loved to have been there. There was Good food, good company – and just being in the presence of Jesus. Then Mary, in typical fashion, took some expensive perfume and anointed the feet of Jesus. She has gone from questioning where Jesus was when Lazarus had died in the previous chapter, to not being able to contain herself by worshipping Him with all of her heart and mind. It was an expression of giving your best to Jesus and worshipping Him like no other. Mary was extravagant in her worship, holding nothing back.
When Jesus makes his presence known, an outpouring of worship naturally flows from people who have been touched by the Savior. Mary expressed her heart and wouldn’t you know it, others were there to criticize as if she is auditioning for America’s Got Talent. When things are done with a pure heart and motive, don’t let other’s criticism steal your worship. Don’t let it steal your joy. Express to God how much He is worth to you in spite of your surroundings.
By the way – I want to be like Mary and Martha. I don’t want to have to choose between two women that Jesus loved hanging around with. Martha was a hospitality queen and Mary could not hold in her expression of worship in showing Jesus love in her own way while not worrying about how the meal was going to be prepared. We need both. Please don’t draw a line and wish someone else was like you or that you were more like someone else. God made you just the way you are. He should be in the center of what it is we feel called to do.
May God bless you today as you are all He created you to be. I am looking forward to worship Jesus with you on Sunday.
Joy in Jesus!
Rev. Mike McClurg
Senior Pastor, Findlay First Church of the Nazarene