What can we learn from mary and martha?

We are introduced to Mary and Martha in Luke 10:38-42.

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.”
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Lk 10:38–42). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

Jesus enters Bethany which is about 1/2 mile east of Jerusalem. Martha has opened her home to Jesus and His followers, and has take on the role of dutiful hostess. She busies herself with preparations and serving, making sure her guests are well taken care of and comfortable.

Mary, on the other hand, is sitting at the Lord’s feet, listening to His teaching. Mary’s position demonstrates her eagerness to absorb the words of Jesus, recognizing the importance of His teachings.

Warren Wiersbe points out in his New Testament Commentary that the three times we see Mary in the Bible, we see her at the feet of Jesus. Here in Luke 10:39. Then in John 11:32 the Bible says, “Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw Him, she fell at His feet…” This is when her brother Lazarus had died and she poured out her grief to Jesus. Then again in John 12:3 we see Mary at Jesus’ feet. It says, “Mary therefore took a pound of expensive ointment made from pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair…” Here we see her worship to Him.

Now we see Martha has had enough of serving alone, and she complains to Jesus in verse 40: “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.”

Martha is struggling. Jesus is a friend so she wants everything to be just right for His visit, but perhaps she also wants to be present with Jesus. So she turns to Him: “Lord, don’t you care? Tell her to help!”

But the Lord gently rebukes her: “Martha, Martha…” Can’t you just see it? Jesus comes to Martha, gently smiling and shaking His head. He puts His hands on her shoulders and says, “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.”

He didn’t fuss. He wasn’t angry. He just gently corrected her path. Martha had gotten distracted. Serving is good! But not if it takes you away from your personal relationship with Jesus. Warren Wiersbe puts it this way: “What we do with Christ is far more important than what we do for Christ.”

In a world often driven by busyness and distractions, Mary’s choice to sit at the feet of Jesus and listen serves as a powerful rebuke to our own hurried lives. Let us take a cue from her and prioritize moments of stillness and reflection in our daily routines. By doing so, we create a space for God to speak to us, guiding us in our decisions and molding us into women of deeper faith.

A few key takeaways:

1. The importance of prioritizing time with Jesus.
In the midst of our busy lives, it is essential to cultivate a habit of seeking intimacy with God through prayer, studying His word, and scripture memorization. By doing so, we gain spiritual nourishment which strengthens our faith and equips us to face life’s challenges.

  1. Balancing service and spiritual self-care.
    Martha’s dedication to hospitality and service is commendable, but her moment of frustration highlights the need for balance. As we serve others, it is crucial to also care for our spiritual well-being. Burnout can occur when we neglect personal time with God. We have to find harmony between serving others and sitting at the feet of Jesus.
  2. Humility and vulnerability in prayer.
    Both Mary and Martha exhibited humility and vulnerability in their interactions with Jesus. Mary’s willingness to sit at Jesus’ feet and Martha’s honesty about her frustrations demonstrate the importance of bringing our hearts honestly before God in prayer. God desires us to be open, transparent, and authentic in our communication with Him, allowing Him to minister to our needs and transform our lives.

Are you a Mary or a Martha?
Are you a woman of action? Do you want to do all the good things, but then neglect the best thing which is having a personal relationship with Jesus? Or have you found that balance of service and spiritual self-care?

Scroll to Top