Amber rays of the setting sun pierced the low hanging clouds. Still no sign of Jesus and his travel companions.
Martha went back inside the house. During the past week, she glanced frequently down the dusty road that meandered through the middle of her village. Rumors were circulating that Jesus may be coming. Martha longed to see him again.
She knew that Jesus was a wise rabbi and amazing teacher, but she had heard that he fed 5,000 people last month with… only five loaves of barley bread and two small fish. She had also heard that he healed the sick, raised a little girl from the dead, and cured those who couldn’t speak or walk! Could he really be the Messiah??
No sooner had she closed the door …
Noises burst through the open window. A shout, the sound of one then many feet crunching on the rocky road. Dogs barked.
A runner from the north had arrived with news: Jesus was close! Martha shouted to her sister, Mary. They rushed out, joining neighbors emerging from their homes… all scanning the horizon for the coming guests.
When at last Jesus and his companions arrived, much rejoicing and embracing followed. Jesus made his way through the crowd. He found his friends Martha and Mary waiting impatiently to greet him. Martha invited Jesus and his disciples to eat dinner with them and to stay as long as they needed.
Martha’s home was one of the largest in the village. Her father, now deceased, had built the walls thick and rooms large. As Jesus, his disciples, and the village neighbors came in, however, the house didn’t feel so large. Martha hastily went to the back rooms to bring the evening meal preparations… which would now become quite a feast of celebration!
Mary assumed the role of host offering water to the weary travelers. They washed their hands. Removed their sandals and washed their feet. Cups of coffee passed to each visitor. Greetings repeatedly exchanged. Conversation criss-crossed the room like a tightly-woven tapestry.
Martha added more bread to the oven. She began cleaning the beans and the lentils. She would need more water from the well soon.
Hopefully, she thought, Mary has gone after more water.
She glanced at the side shelf. Yes, they had a full basket of fresh figs from this mornings’ harvest, plus another basket with dried figs. She needed to check on olives, though. It would be embarrassing to not have olives on the tables. They rarely served meat but tonight was a special. She would add beef and fowl to the vegetables. The homey aroma of baking bread filled the room. Bowls, knives, and spoons were stacking up.
Where was Mary? Much needed to be done.
No longer able to wait, Martha dried her hands and marched out into the front room.
People, sitting and reclining on their cloaks, packed into every corner of the room. A couple people sat in chairs. No one noticed Martha. Their eyes and ears remained fixed on Jesus.
Then, Martha saw her. Much to her shock, there sat Mary: on the floor at Jesus’ feet … doing nothing! Not even a water bucket within reach!
“Lord,” Martha blurted out. Heads spun around toward her. “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself?” The words could barely emerge through her exasperation. “Tell her to help me!”
Tension filled the room. Out of her anger and frustration, Martha had rebuked Jesus. A woman scolding a man. No one moved. All eyes returned to Jesus.
Jesus turned to Martha with his eyes that could peer so deeply into the human soul. He knew exactly what was happening in the home.
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord (finally) answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better; and it will not be taken away from her.”
(adapted from Luke 10:38-42))
Thoughts to ponder…
What takes you away from Jesus and the peace He offers?
Instead of preparing Martha’s feast, you may be dealing with family or health issues, heavy work or class load, financial concerns.
Won’t you allow God’s words to fill your heart and your life?
He will give a fresh perspective, a renewed peace … a contentment that passes all worldly understanding. Seek the Lord Almighty to work through your burdens.
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