This is one of several meal scenes Luke will narrate. Journey notes dot the section (9:51; 13:22; 17:11; 18:31; 19:28, 41). Jesus traveled to meet His appointed fate in Jerusalem (13:31–35). Jesus is going to be dying in six short months. Martha assumed there would be ample time to spend with Jesus, so she prioritized work over quality time with the Lord in her home. Martha even gets hard-nosed about dinner details and is in danger of missing the moment. But Mary could sense the urgency of the moment.
Has anybody here ever bit off more than you can chew? Have you ever tried to do too much? There are some that tend to do that and as a result they’re always in a hurry, putting pressure on themselves to do something well, and then being overly-critical of themselves for not measuring up. It can leave you feeling exhausted, alone, unnoticed and unsupported. Martha was organized, ambitious and a little bit of a perfectionist. We could say that Martha was distracted; she was cluttered. But Mary had chosen; she was focused.
You have a Mary and Martha inside you. You will lean one way or another. But to get the spiritual life right, you will have to tend to the lesser voice. Martha’s get after it, but they can miss Jesus in all the activity. Whereas Mary’s “behold” and sit with Him so they know what activities to get after. If you’re Martha, tend to the smaller voice that says “Maybe I’ll do less this time, so I can spend time with Jesus.” If you’re Mary, tend to the smaller voice that says “Maybe I’ll lift someone else’s load a little and experience Jesus that way.” We often have to ask ourselves, why we do what we do. For selfish ambition? Out of a need to perform? To find approval and affection? Our doing comes from a place of striving or serving.
Martha says at one point to Jesus: “Do you not care?” because, if you cared, I wouldn’t be sweating like this. If you cared, you wouldn’t be carrying on a conversation with my sister, while I’m trying to cook you dinner, Jesus. I am trying to make you a meal. Whenever, what you are doing for Jesus gets you upset with Jesus, then you have missed Jesus. Martha was a doer and Mary wasn’t “doing” and this created a problem of attitude and a trial of non-appreciation. My sense is that Martha was going beyond the mere preparation of food and was trying to impress everybody with what she was about.
Steven James says this: “I think sometimes we’re afraid to slow down because we might see ourselves as we really are – lost, lonely, longing, hurting, hurtful, and unfulfilled. We’re afraid of the silences and stillnesses in our lives because we’re afraid of what they’ll reveal in our hearts… Maybe if we fill our lives with enough distractions, we won’t have to think about who we are. Or how lonely we are, or how empty we are (111-112).”
I want to break down this visit into three scenes: invitation, interruption, instruction. Each scene has a key question.
Whose feet are you sitting under?
What are your many things?
Are you coachable?
To sit at Jesus' feet in submission means to always put Jesus in first place. It means every day there is a very deliberate handing over of the reigns. The wheel, the controls are handed over to Jesus. He is calling the shots, not you, not me. Go sit at the feet of Jesus, find your sufficiency in him, and then do what he tells you! The Savior will repeat your name someday. Be coachable.