How is it that two people who knew Jesus could both serve the people around them yet Jesus rebukes one and praises the other? Have you ever wondered why Martha was annoyed and bothered by the very people she was serving? Do you serve in the church or in the ministry? What motivates you to serve and what kind of attitude do you have? Have you ever thought about WHY you do what you do? What is your attitude like when you serve? Do you know how to serve, when to serve, why to serve etc. ? Christ teaches us how to serve, when to serve, where to serve, why to serve, and what kind of attitude we should have. Let’s open up God’s Word and discover truth for ourselves.
38 Now as they were traveling along, He entered a village ; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who was seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to His word. 40 But Martha was distracted with all her preparations ; and she came up to Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone ? Then tell her to help me.” 41 But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things ; 42 but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10)
I. Getting equipped to serve is key
Martha and Mary are both hospitable people and this is seen by the fact that they invite Jesus into their home. The Creator of the universe entered their house and Mary and Martha have two totally different attitudes when it comes to Jesus. Martha does not have time for Jesus, her guest. She is too busy serving. In fact, in her service, she is agitated and bothered, to the point where she rebukes Jesus for not telling Mary to help her. Martha is serving but she does not have a good attitude. She is flustered and does not have time to visit with her guest. Her hospitality seems a bit superficial because she is upset with her guest and actually rebukes Him. Her service does not bring joy to the ones whom she serves and she has no joy. Is this the way that you serve, flustered and frustrated all the time? Does you service bring joy to the ones whom you serve? Do you receive joy from serving others? Jesus points out Martha’s problem; she was serving without first sitting at the feet of Jesus and learning from Him. Many times we think that we need to be serving and that is the most important. Jesus says that the most important thing is to sit at His feet and learn from Him and then serve. What is your default mode; serving to be busy so that you feel accomplished, or, do you first sit at the feet of Jesus so that you can learn how to serve and then serve with the right attitude? Mary chose the good part and it will not be taken away from her. Does Mary ever serve? Yes, we will take a look at that in a moment. You can serve and yet because you are serving the wrong way, with the wrong attitude and Jesus is not happy with that service.
II. Being unequipped shows
20 Martha therefore, when she heard that Jesus was coming, went to meet Him, but Mary stayed at the house. 21 Martha then said to Jesus, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died. 22 “Even now I know that whatever You ask of God, God will give You.” 23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha said to Him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” 25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life ; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die. Do you believe this ?” 27 She said to Him, “Yes, Lord ; I have believed that You are the Christ, the Son of God, even He who comes into the world.” 28 When she had said this, she went away and called Mary her sister, saying secretly, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” 29 And when she heard it, she got up quickly and was coming to Him. (John 11)
Martha runs to rebuke Jesus once again. She did not learn her lesson the first time and she tries again. Jesus knows her heart and immediately He begins to ask her questions to reveal her heart problem. She had obviously heard the messages that Jesus had been teaching and she knew the lingo. When asked, she gives an awesome verbal testimony here. The problem is, the testimony is not in her heart. She has the head knowledge but she does not believe what she is saying. How do we know this? The rest of the chapter explains.
38 So Jesus, again being deeply moved within , came to the tomb. Now it was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. 39 Jesus said, “Remove the stone.” Martha, the sister of the deceased, said to Him, “Lord, by this time there will be a stench, for he has been dead four days.” 40 Jesus said to her, “Did I not say to you that if you believe, you will see the glory of God ?” 41 So they removed the stone. Then Jesus raised His eyes, and said, “Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. 42 “I knew that You always hear Me; but because of the people standing around I said it, so that they may believe that You sent Me.” 43 When He had said these things, He cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth.” 44 The man who had died came forth, bound hand and foot with wrappings, and his face was wrapped around with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.” (John 11)
Martha’s response here says it all. She really did not believe because when the rubber met the road, she showed her disbelief. Jesus commanded to remove the stone and she did not want Him to do it because of the stench. She did not realize who Jesus really was, even though she could respond correctly when taken through the Christian catechism. Do you know people like this? Are you like this? She did not have time to spend with Jesus when He was teaching because her priorities were messed up and when it came time to demonstrate her faith, she failed the test. If you do not take the time to be equipped, as you serve, the reality of things will be revealed.
III. Proper service flows out of a right relationship with Christ
Mary served and her service was performed at the right time. As a result, she was praised by Christ as well as defended by Him from those who did not understand.
1 Jesus, therefore, six days before the Passover, came to Bethany where Lazarus was, whom Jesus had raised from the dead. 2 So they made Him a supper there, and Martha was serving ; but Lazarus was one of those reclining at the table with Him. 3 Mary then took a pound of very costly perfume of pure nard, and anointed the feet of Jesus and wiped His feet with her hair ; and the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume. 4 But Judas Iscariot, one of His disciples, who was intending to betray Him, said, 5 “Why was this perfume not sold for three hundred denarii and given to poor people?” 6 Now he said this, not because he was concerned about the poor, but because he was a thief, and as he had the money box, he used to pilfer what was put into it. (John 12)
4 But some were indignantly remarking to one another, “Why has this perfume been wasted ? 5 “For this perfume might have been sold for over three hundred denarii, and the money given to the poor.” And they were scolding her. 6 But Jesus said, “Let her alone ; why do you bother her? She has done a good deed to Me. 7 “For you always have the poor with you, and whenever you wish you can do good to them; but you do not always have Me. 8 “She has done what she could ; she has anointed My body beforehand for the burial. 9 “Truly I say to you, wherever the gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be spoken of in memory of her.” (Mark 14)
Mary did something that even Jesus’ closest disciples had not known to do. She realized that His crucifixion was coming and that He would be buried, as He had been saying all along. She had sat at His feet and listened to His Words. When it was time to serve, she knew what to do. The people around her criticized her because they did not understand. Jesus defends her before the others, taking her side even over the side of His disciples. Not only does Jesus defend her, but He also praises her service and honors her name by having her remembered in history, linking her name to the Gospel. Some 2,000 years later we still learn of her service.
Do you serve the Lord the right way? Does your service overflow out of your personal relationship with Christ as you sit as His feet and listen to His Words or, do you seek to be busy serving while at the same time, frustrating the people whom you serve because your attitude is not right? If your service frustrates you and everyone around you, then why do you do it? In order to serve the right way, you must spend time at the feet of Jesus, learning His Word so that you can know when to serve, how to serve, where to serve, and why. May the Lord help us.