“When the days drew near for him to be taken up, He set His face to go to Jerusalem.” (Lk.9:51). The journey continues. As we make our scheduled stops along this journey with Jesus to Jerusalem, its becoming more and more obvious to me, and I hope for you too, that each stop is connected to the others.
For example, two weeks ago, we watched as Jesus sent out His 72 messengers to “go ahead of Him, two by two, into every town and village where he himself was about to go.” They went out like LAMBS AMONG WOLVES looking for HOSPITALITY. And when they came to a house that welcomed them and invited them to stay, they were to announce His blessing of PEACE BE TO THIS HOUSE and say, “The Kingdom of God is at hand.”
If they were invited to stay, they were not to jump around from house to house but eat the food that was offered them and use that home as their base of operation for their mission in that area.
So today, on the 4th stop on the journey, we come to one of those homes where 2 of those messengers had found a warm welcome. When they returned to Jesus, they must have reported that when you arrive at the village of Bethany, He should go to the home of a woman named Martha and her sister called Mary. He would find a welcome hospitality with them.
“Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary…”
Surely as Jesus entered this home, He pronounced His blessing, “Peace be to this house.” “The kingdom of God is at hand.”
This is the house that will be His home base for His mission in Jerusalem as it was just about two miles over the Mount of Olives to the city limits.
It was to this home that Jesus would typically retreat each evening when he was in Jerusalem if He didn’t spend the night praying in the Garden of Gethsemane on the Mount of Olives, about half way between the two.
Here, He who did not have a foxhole or birds nest to lay his head, found a welcome place to stay and eat a meal with dear friends.
One of the many things that set the Holy Bible apart from the holy books of every other religion is its brutal honesty. It’s doesn’t scrub away all of those awkward and nasty little blemishes to present a picture of the life of a believer that we might admire but would all agree, ‘no, that’s not the way it really it.’ The Bible presents us with life the way it REALLY IS. To the point that we can all say, ‘oh yea! I recognize that.’
My point here is, Luke could have easily omitted vss. 40-42 of this episode where Martha complains about her sister’s unhelpful attitude. And if he did, we’d have this idyllic picture of a little two story Cape with a willow tree and white picket fence and two sisters welcoming Jesus into their home where the guest room is all prepared and a cherry pie is just coming out of the oven while the bluebirds whistle “Joy to the World.”
But that’s not what we see here is it? What we see looks like something that is less than ‘ideal’ but pretty familiar. In fact, a lot more like our own homes where one member of the family is busy, busy, busy with all the chores of maintaining a welcoming home and the other seems to hardly notice. There’s that RESENTMENT from one that the other isn’t doing their share of the chores. There’s the COMPLAINING that it’s not fair. There’s the DEMANDING that justice be done. There’s the QUESTION, “don’t you care.”
Now there’s a home we can all easily recognize.
We should keep in mind that Jesus isn’t traveling all alone. He’s got at least 12 guys with Him, and maybe 72 more. And maybe they’re not all staying in Martha’s home but they do want to eat together, and that’s a lot of chow to prepare.
“Mary sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her to help me.”
Luke uses the “epistasa” word here. ‘Stasa’ is the word for ‘strife,’ or ‘insurrection.’ “Epi” on the front intensifies the word. Instead of saying, “Martha went to him,” it might be more accurate to translate this as, “Martha ‘got in his face…” It’s the same word that Luke uses later when he tells us that “the chief priests and the scribes with the elders came up and SAID to Him, ‘tell us by what authority you do these things…”(Lk. 20:1). They ‘got in his face.’
Dear Martha is pretty upset and demands that Jesus do something about the obvious unfairness that is going on. “Tell her to help me.”
It may be that most of us sympathize with Martha and have some pretty good arguments for why her attitude towards her sister is perfectly justifiable. And if we were to write the script for how we would like to see this stop on the journey played out, I’m sure we would have written it differently than it’s actually written. But as much as we would like to defend dear Martha and scold dear Mary, that’s simply not the way it goes here.
In fact, Jesus scolds Martha and says that Mary’s got it right and she’s got it wrong. Granted it may be the most gentle and loving scolding in the whole bible – “Martha, Martha…” – that double repetition of a personal name that indicates a deep and special relationship – but Martha’s the one who needs correction here, not Mary.
“Martha, Martha, 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.”
As we watch and listen, we see a home where Jesus has been welcomed into the home. But now that Jesus is in the house, we see one sister who sits at his feet and listens to His Word and another sister who is glad that He is in her house, but frankly, is a little too busy right now to sit at His feet, maybe later, when all the chores are done. Sound familiar?
Let’s be very clear here. This is NOT a lesson about how to be a better host when people come into your home. This is all about what it means to show JESUS HOSPITALTY when He comes into YOUR HOME. Mary is the example that we should all learn from. She sits at Jesus’ feet and listens to Him speak to her. Mary shows us all the ‘better way.’
So, if I were to ask how many of you have a bible in your house, I’m sure all of you would raise your hands. What I’d like you to consider now is that the Bible is not just one book among the many you have in your house. The Bible is a very unique book because it, and it alone, is the very WORD OF GOD. When you read the Bible you are listening to God speak to you. It is perfectly accurate to say that the Bible and Jesus Christ are One because the Bible says that Jesus is the WORD OF GOD.
So, when you brought a bible into your house, you brought Jesus Christ, into your house. Unless someone forced you to ‘take this bible,’ when you brought a bible into your home, you welcomed Jesus into your house just as Martha welcomed Jesus into her house.
So let me ask you, what kind of hospitality are you showing Jesus? Is it like the hospitality of Mary or Martha?
Do you read your bible regularly, which is the same thing as asking, do you sit at Jesus’ feet and listen to Him speak to you regularly? Or did you welcome Jesus into your home and then get so caught up with all those ‘things’ that you’re “anxious and troubled about” and never seem to get around to listening to Him?
Frankly, it’s hard to imagine that anyone would be so rude as to welcome a guest into their home but then become so occupied with the chores of the day that they never pay attention to their guest. How rude.
Can you imagine that anyone would sit at the feet of the TV or the video game or the Facebook and ignore the guest in their home? How rude.
But isn’t this just what we do with Jesus when we welcome Him into our home and put Him on a shelf and ignore Him?
So, let’s hear Jesus’ word to Martha again. “Mary has chosen THE GOOD PORTION, which will not be taken away from her.”
It’s a clever turn of phrase. Martha is “anxious” that everyone get a proper ‘PORTION’ of food for their belly. But Mary is EATING UP the PORTION that Jesus has prepared that satisfies her hungry soul.
What kind of ‘hospitality’ are you showing Jesus Christ in your home?
This is not about how regular Church attendance. This is HIS HOME into which HE GLADLY WELCOMES YOU as HIS GUEST where He gives you His DIVINE HOSPITALITY – speaking with you His blessing of PEACE TO YOU and His Word of Life, listening to you speak to Him in prayer – “Lord in your mercy, hear our prayer,” feeding you at His banquet table with His divine food that satisfies your hungry soul.
THIS IS ABOUT JESUS, THE GUEST IN YOUR HOME. As we pray at meals – ‘Come Lord Jesus, BE OUR GUEST…” What kind of hospitality do you show Him? How regularly do you sit as His feet and listen to Him speak to you, which is the same thing as asking, ‘how often to you read your bible and take some time to think about what Jesus is saying to you? “Speak, O Lord, your servant listens” is the way to show hospitality to Jesus.
In the midst of all the “things that you are anxious and troubled about,” here is the GOOD PORTION that will not be taken away from you.” Here is where you hear the voice of Jesus Christ speaking to YOU in your own home. “Peace be to this house. Peace to you.” “I am the GOOD PORTION and I will not be taken away from you.”
It just may well be that in sitting at His feet and listening to Him speak to you that you being to wonder, ‘now what were those things that I was so anxious and troubled about?’ “And our work becomes our prayer.” (LSB #855: 9)