Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching.
But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.”
But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.””
This is probably the first time Jesus has come to this house. What we know from reading the whole story is that this household would become one of Jesus’ favorite places to visit. He would call Lazarus, Martha, and Mary His friends and visit here many more times in His life.
As a good Rabbi, Jesus would walk around, visit people, do work, hang out, and teach all along the way. If you had the honor of having a Rabbi come visit your house, you’d be so excited that you’d invite some family and friends over too. Even if you didn’t have any questions, just sitting in on the conversation between Him and His disciples would be enlightening and educational.
Mary wanted to listen in so much, she gave up doing the hospitality work. That was a big deal! Remember the shame that was going to happen at that wedding when they ran out of wine? Or that parable that Jesus told about the people having no bread for their visitors so they went to the neighbor and banged the door down until they had borrowed a loaf?
Hospitality is an honor for the guest and the host.
But sitting and listening to Jesus is better.
Jesus describes what Mary did as ‘the good portion.’ It’s not just that she picked this good thing, and it was good, but you can tell Martha chose the bad portion because she’s scolding and condemning Mary. That’s the thing about all of our choices. Eventually, the fruit that comes out of it is shown.
This is Cain and Able all over again. One did something they thought was good. The other did something and wasn’t happy about it in comparison to what the first person did! That resulted in judgment and griping against God. For Martha it was “Tell her to help me!” and for Cain, it was “Why should I care where Able is?”
Both statements place the speaker in a position to advise God. He doesn’t need our advice any more than He needs our sacrifices (Cain) or our big fancy dinner (Martha).
He wants us to sit and listen. That’s the best thing we can pick. Not anxious and troubled about many things.
Don’t just do something, stand there!
Just sit. Just listen.