Martha & Mary
Open Your Bible
Luke 10:38-42, John 11:19-27, John 12:1-8, Psalm 16:1-11, Psalm 27:4
BY Abby Flynn
Do you ever lay in bed at night and worry? Between moving to a new city, the coronavirus pandemic, and having a newborn, in the last few months, I’ve probably done enough worrying for it to be my full-time job.
Sometimes I remember to stop, pray, and give it to the Lord. And sometimes, I stay up way too late, writing endless lists of the things I can do to make life feel a little more under control.
Have you ever been there? No? Just me, then?
If you grew up in Sunday school, at some point, you were probably taught to, “Be a Mary, not a Martha!” And though I’ve always related to Martha, she definitely gets a bad rap. When Jesus came to visit Mary and Martha in Luke 10, Mary sat at Jesus’s feet and listened to His every word. Meanwhile, Martha cleaned the kitchen; I sometimes imagine her banging pots and pans around passive-aggressively, annoyed that her sister couldn’t bother to help out, especially when company is in the house.
After hearing Lazarus is sick, Jesus waits two days before going to see him (John 11:6–7). When He arrives, Mary sits and waits for Him at the house, while Martha runs out to meet Him. “Lord,” she tells Him, “if you had been here, my brother wouldn’t have died” (v.21). But despite this conviction, Martha still has trouble believing Jesus when He tells her Lazarus will rise again; it’s difficult to believe beyond what she sees with her own eyes in that moment (v.24).
Finally, in John 12, we see a dinner given for Jesus before the Passover. At the dinner, Martha stays busy serving everyone, Lazarus reclines with Jesus, and Mary anoints Him with expensive perfume, filling the room with its fragrance.
Our girl Martha is busy! She worries a lot. Knowing her so well, loving her as only He can, Jesus seems to address this head on:
“Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things,
but one thing is necessary. Mary has made the right choice,
and it will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:41–42).
Through these small glimpses into Martha’s life, we see her cleaning, running a household, and serving. Martha strived to honor the Lord with her actions, but it was often at the expense of actually spending time in His presence. Meanwhile, Mary sat, listened, and anointed Jesus. While both women wanted to honor, serve, and love Him, in the end, it is Mary who “made the right choice.”
It’s easy for us to glorify Mary and berate Martha, but we all have a little Martha inside of us. She was distracted by her many tasks. But how many of those tasks did she feel like she was doing for the kingdom? How many times was she consumed by doing “all the things” instead of focusing on the one, most important thing?
Jesus looked at Martha, really saw her, and said, “You are worried and upset about many things.” Is this true of you today? Have you brought those things to the feet of Jesus? Have you laid them down, and taken time to sit and listen to what He has to say? Or are you busy, working, running around in a flurry, and getting angry at others for not noticing just how hard you’re trying? (I’m speaking to myself here, too.)
What is God doing right now, in this moment? And what does He want to reveal to you about Himself? Is it time for you to sit down, stop striving, and finally rest? Mary chose the one thing, the good part, the better portion. And we would be wise to do the same.
Abby Flynn is a wife, mom of two, and freelance copywriter living in Charlotte, NC. She loves bargain hunting and house hunting. On an average day, you can find her listening to great music, hosting a girls’ night, discovering new coffee shops, or watching the same Paw Patrol episode over and over again with her toddler.