Misplaced sacrifice breeds a heart of discontent. Jesus reminded Martha that truth and happiness rests in His life and the work he was about to do, not in something she was able to carry out on her own.
Two miles outside of Jerusalem in the village of Bethany, two sisters invite Jesus into their home (Luke 10:38-42). They must have heard the reports about His teachings. They must have heard the miracles He was performing. But what was most stunning of all, that this Jesus was proclaiming to be the promised Christ.
“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!” (Luke 10:38-42)
We see Martha busying herself in the kitchen upon Jesus’ arrival making preparations for a meal. There may have been a number of disciples who were with him both tired and hungry after a long day of travel. Overwhelmed and stressed by the amount of work to serve these important guests, Martha must have been perturbed when her sister, Mary, was not working by her side. Instead, Mary was choosing to sit at the feet of Jesus and listen to His words.
Frustrated and angered, Martha came and asked Jesus, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” Seeing Martha’s anguish, Jesus gently chastised her by saying, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
Mary’s desire to serve others is commendable. What ought to have been a source of joy and privilege to serve her Savior, turned to anguish and turmoil. Her focus on service and carrying out work distracted her from what was most important — to be listening to the words of Christ.
Seeking truth and promise in the words of Christ is where a person will find their purpose in life. Jesus was bringing the message of how to be acceptable in order to receive eternal life in the presence of our Heavenly Father. Mary understand and stopped whatever she felt she needed to be doing to listen and consider the words of Christ.
She placed herself at Jesus’ feet.