“Now as they were traveling along, He entered a village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. She had a sister called Mary, who was seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to His word. 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.” But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but [only] one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” (Lk 10:38-42)
There are two sisters in a village called Bethany, close to Jerusalem. They had a brother named Lazarus. Bethany means ‘house of misery’. It gives the impression of a poor village, dusty and forgotten. But the Lord saw something in that place, a pearl of great price…may you find what He found…
During His travels with His disciples, He often stayed in the house of Martha and Mary. He did not like to sleep in Jerusalem, with its majestic temple built by Herod, with its expensive houses and theological schools for rabbis. He chose to trek back to Bethany and rest his body in the house of His friends who loved Him as a Person, and not just as a miracle worker.
Both sisters loved the Lord. Martha seem to be the older one, for she was the one who ‘opened her house’ to Jesus. Possibly Lazarus was the youngest in the family. Mary soon made a habit that became the talk of the home. Each time the Lord came to visit, she will sit at His feet to listen to His words. She did not sit at the feet of Peter or Andrew. Her eyes, her ears, her heart, her attention, her time, her strength… were for the Lord alone.
Martha became angry with her younger sister. She needed help in the kitchen. After all, she was the hostess and it was not easy to feed so many men. She rebuked Mary in private, but Mary refused ‘to repent’. This time, she came to ‘the parlor’, hot with sweat and flour on her dress. She complained and she ‘judged’ Mary to the Lord. Mary is supposed to be in the kitchen, helping her with the cooking and the serving. That has been the traditional place of all godly women in the past. Mary should be rebuked for breaking with the holy, respectable tradition… so she thought.
To her greatest surprise, Jesus gently rebuked her. He said that her frustration comes from worry about too many things. He also said that the work of serving men is good. But there is another type of ‘work’, not found in the textbooks of men. It is called ‘the ministry of the Word of God and prayer’ (Ac 6:1-7). It is an apostolic ministry of breaking new grounds, of replacing the traditions of religious men with the realities of the Kingdom of God. The apostolic ministry is so rare and precious that men may ignore it. But it has to be recognized and given priority over all the rest forms of laboring for God. Men need help and encouragement. That is a good and godly work. The poor shall always be amongst us, said the Lord. God rewards all who help His needy people in so many ways. But Mary discovered ‘the one thing necessary’. That in fact is a spot and an anointing. It is a positional, peculiar, special, eternal ministry, uniquely blessed: to seat at Jesus’ feet and to listen to His word. Selah!!!
What does it mean to sit at the feet of Jesus? Let’s ask our sister, Mary of Bethany…
Mary honors Jesus with her faith and her submission to Him as a Teacher and a Prophet. There is no greater respect and honor you can give to a public speaker than to listen attentively to his speech. Mary loves Jesus more than her own life; she loves Him more than her own reputation as a godly woman. Mary loves Jesus with a passion that kills all other pursuits, even in ministry. True worship is creative! Her love made a way where there seems to be no way. She was the one who later anointed Jesus with the perfume from her alabaster box. Jesus said that her love and her deed will always be connected with the preaching of His Gospel. True preaching is forever one with worship!
Have you found this blessed spot and Jesus’ feet?
Are your eyes gazing uninterrupted at His lovely face?
Have you disciplined your ears to desire to listen only to the Word of God?
Has your soul found rest under His gentle yoke of teaching the Word?
Is your heart trained to abide in His presence, to desire nothing else, for as long as the Teacher is speaking?
I know that you are busy…you do useful many things for the ministry…I am not saying that is bad…but do you ever stop and think about just pleasing the Lover of your soul?
I know that you give offerings and you help the poor…I agree with you, it is a good thing to do…but do you ever stop and think if the Master needs something…maybe a cup of water…something that only true love can offer?
You say that life is short, therefore you must enjoy it…you take care of your family…people say that you are a responsible man…that is good…but do you ever stop and think if there is a way to bring a smile on the Teacher’s lips?
I know that you are busy, active and committed in the church…people see and greet you well…but do you ever stop and think of Him who died on the Cross that you and your family may live?
As for me, against all odds, I found that place…my heart, my feet, they could not rest from seeking until I found that blessed spot…men have pushed me aside and prayed against my passion…men laughed at my longing and pointed other things to do…but the Lord of my sister Mary became my Lord also…He called me heavenwards and revealed the space prepared and preserved for me alone…throughout my journey, He encouraged, defended and covered me…I have never seen a Man like Jesus…He speaks mysteries and my heart melts at the sound of His voice…He who holds the stars in His hand, holds my breath and my soul forever…The Lord is my Shepherd, what can man do to me? Nothing… for I fear nothing except to grieve Him by my doubts, restlessness and foolishness…I have found peace and joy…this is my treasure…this is my testimony…My spot at His feet is secure forever…His seal is there… my name is stamped on that holy ground and none can erase it…From the words of His mouth, I share with you all… in the presence of my enemies, He calls me to His personal banqueting table…I seat with Him on His throne…men’s eyes stare at something close to the ceiling…surprised, I too look above and see: His banner over me reads: