Luke 10:38-42 (ESV)
38 Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. 40 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.” 41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, 42 but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”
Jesus and his disciples continued their journey toward Jerusalem. On their way, they stopped off in Bethany and dropped into the home of Jesus’ close friends, Martha and Mary. Martha did exactly what was proper when a home received guests. She worked hard to honor Jesus and his friends by serving what was probably an extravagant meal. As Martha labored in the kitchen, she was pulled by all that needed to be done. What should have been a blessing became a burden, and she ended up troubled. Martha needed a major attitude adjustment. As Martha was stewing in the kitchen, she noticed her sister, Mary, just sitting at the feet of Jesus, learning from him as if she were a disciple. What was Mary thinking? Clearly, she should have been helping Martha in the kitchen where she belonged. Martha couldn’t take it anymore. She burst in on Jesus and the others who were learning from him. She asked Jesus if he even cared about the fact that her sister was trying to get out of her work. Martha “rebuked” Jesus, and let him know he needed to tell Mary to get up and get to work. Jesus kindly warned Martha that her anxiety was sinful, and in fact, her sister Mary had made the better choice. Mary didn’t need to go anywhere.
We can miss how countercultural this scene was. In the first century, women were not treated the same as men. One leading rabbi of the first century said it would be better to burn the Torah (the first five books of the Bible) than to teach it to a woman. Wow! Martha really believed Mary was in the wrong, but Jesus absolutely endorsed Mary’s decision. What a testimony to God’s love for all people, Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female. He calls all to know him and “sit at his feet.” Mary never said a word in own her defense, but Jesus vindicated her. Both men and women are important to Jesus, and both men and women are called to learn and even devour his word. If you aren’t in a Bible study that meets at your church, sign up for one today! And if you are, good work! You won’t regret the extra time spent listening to Jesus as you pour over his word, and what you learn will never be taken from you.