In Luke 10 Martha is understandably upset. Hospitality is the main thing on her mind and to do it right she could use some help. She would probably like to sit at Jesus’ feet, too, but someone has to get the meal on. When she appeals to Jesus she is irritated enough to forget just who she is talking to and is pretty demanding in her tone and choice of words. Basically she is telling, not asking Jesus what to do. Get my sister to help me!
Jesus is so amazing. He responds so tenderly. The double use of the name is clearly a result of his deep love for her. Think about it. The other two places recorded in the New Testament where this is done by Jesus is when he is weeping over Jerusalem ( Luke 13) and when he reassures Peter that though he will deny him, he will be restored and help others as a result (Luke 22). Tenderly, Jesus speaks the truth to Martha. He does not address what she is doing primarily but her attitude in what she is doing. She is worried and distracted—literally “being pulled away” by many things. The tasks she is doing—providing food—is necessary and good. But she has lost sight of the person she provides for—Jesus. Jesus then teaches her. He tenderly calls her, he speaks truth to her, and then he explains what is most important. Working for Jesus is good. Being with Jesus is better. Martha did not choose a bad thing and Mary a good thing. Martha chose what was good, but Mary chose what was better. When tempted by hunger Jesus said we do not live by bread alone but by every word that comes out of the mouth of God (Matt.4). Martha was preparing food for God; Mary was receiving food from God. Tenderly Jesus calls to Martha, identifies the condition of her heart, and invites her to be with him. This is not rebuke. This is courtship.
My new son-in-law Kyle recently spoke this truth into my life. His parents were coming to town and he wanted us to get together for a meal. I suggested we have dinner at our home rather than a restaurant. He agreed on one condition--that I would sit and visit and not be up and serving the whole time. He has my number. I love to provide hospitality for others. But what Kyle wanted was for me to get to know his parents and for them to have a chance to get to know me. My usually m.o. in hospitality would not have accomplished this.
My calendar is beyond full. I am so busy for Jesus. I love serving the Lord. But am I spending time listening to and learning from him? Don’t Martha, Martha me, is my immediate response. I am not just cooking up a meal, I am leading a congregation! Jesus responds tenderly, Candie, Candie, you are worried and distracted by so many ministry tasks. Only one is really needed—more important than all others. Be with me. Put down all your to do lists and ministry plans and sit with me. While preaching this text yesterday Jesus spoke truth tenderly into my life. He “Martha Martha’d” me! I am going to try and listen.