Hey Girls. I've been trying to get this posted since this morning, I guess better late than never! I loved reading everyone’s responses to the scenario of Jesus coming to dinner!! Some of your answers made me laugh out loud and some were very insightful too.
Most women quickly admit to being a Martha. But for years I identified more with Mary. Not because I thought I was super-spiritual, but because I knew I was not very domestic. While my home is (mostly) clean, it’s certainly not spotless. And while it’s (mostly) tidy, it’s certainly not clutter-free. There is always a load of laundry, either clean or dirty, in a basket somewhere waiting for me to manage it. There is typically a pile of mail at the end of the kitchen counter waiting for me to sort it. Dust perpetually awaits swiping on my mantle. And there’s almost always a stack of books and Bibles at the end of every table – and that’s because I’d rather sit and read or write about God than cook or clean. I enjoy that stuff more than the domestic stuff, and I’m better at it.
Also, I’m a big-picture kind of a girl more than a details kind of girl. Some people make task lists, and with joy check off each task as they complete them. I make lists, and then lose them … or abandon them because I don’t like to feel controlled by a check-list of tasks (even if I’m the one who made it)! Only when I’m super busy and super stressed do I resort to keeping a check-list, and actually obey it.
Jesus tells Martha in Luke 10 that she is distracted, worried, and upset over all the details. Being a big-picture gal, I couldn’t imagine Jesus saying that to me. I figured He’d be more likely to have to say, “Uh, Rachel, I need a fork to eat with. And do you have any napkins? Also, should I just set these books off the kitchen table onto the floor, or is there somewhere you want me to put them?” But when I considered the scenario I outlined for you in the last post, I realized my first impulse would be to launch into Martha-mode and worry about the food and the house.
Being domestically-challenged, I would quickly come to the end of myself there. So out of necessity I’d switch to more of a Mary mode and break out my Bible and pray. But probably not with entirely right motives. (If I couldn’t please/impress Jesus with my home or my meal, I would do so with my knowledge of Him.) Hopefully, however, while reading the Bible, the Holy Spirit would do that thing that He is so good at doing and hold a mirror up for me to see myself. And hopefully I would realign my motives and focus and become truly ready to welcome my Lord. Then I would do my happy-dance until He arrived!
Besides, if He can turn water into wine and multiply fishes and loaves – I can ask Jesus to make the dinner!
Considering this scenario showed me that my first impulse would be very Martha-like: to focus on things and tasks more than on relationships and people. I would drive myself and my family crazy trying to get us ready for Jesus’ visit. My perfectionist tendencies would rear their ugly head – somewhat in the name of my love for Jesus, and somewhat in the name of my desire to feel I produced a lovely evening. I think Jesus might smile over my frantic cooking and cleaning before He arrived in an effort to serve and bless Him. But I suspect He’d frown at me for driving everyone crazy because I wanted to be all successful and “perfect.”
This exercise also made me realize that even when I do Mary-like behaviors, I need to check my motives for doing so. Is it just to stay within my comfort-zone? Is it to avoid doing something else that needs doing that I don’t want to do? Is it just because I know it’s the right thing to do and I want to be a good Bible-study girl? Or is it out a desire to truly worship Him?
One difference in my scenario and the story in the Bible is that I told you a friend called you to say she was bringing Jesus over tonight. In the Bible it says that Martha herself welcomed Jesus to stay with her (Luke 10:38). She invited Him. It was evidently her idea – not Jesus’, not Lazarus’ and not Mary’s. Martha wanted Him there … she just got distracted with the details and the tasks involved in making dinner once He was there.
Ah, so I not only need to watch my motives, but also my follow-through on what begins as a pure motive.
At times I have viewed Jesus’ comments to Martha that night as a harsh rebuke. I have cringed at the thought of Jesus having to correct me like that – in front of everyone no less. But in reality, He was also letting her off the hook she had created for herself with her self-imposed goal to produce a terrific meal and be a “perfect” hostess. Isn’t it just like Jesus to remove our need to perform so we can enjoy His presence, grace and love? And He let everyone in the room know as well that Martha was free to stop cooking and come sit down with the rest of them.
Perhaps because I never identified much with Martha, I’ve never read any books about this passage of scripture. Anybody who has want to share some insights they learned – and tell us which book its from? Or any one have additional comments on this section of our reading?