Devotion – April 2024

Martha and Mary (Luke 10: 38 – 42)

Have you any siblings? What do conversations with them sound like? Often children from the same family are described as being “chalk and cheese”. Is that so for you?

Mary and Martha seem like “chalk and cheese”. It would be interesting to know if they were of similar ages, or how they shared the household duties. I get the impression that Martha is older, and I wonder if she was bossy or just very responsible. Was Mary easily distracted from a task or even lazy? Whatever my questions, they both appear devoted to Jesus – Martha devoted to serving him and Mary devoted to listening to him.

And Jesus loves them both.

In their conversation only two people speak, but at least three people are listening. Martha is obviously upset at being left to serve alone and demands that Jesus intervenes. Jesus replies and supports Mary’s choice. Two sets of words. Mary is there too but doesn’t say anything. Sounds a bit awkward, doesn’t it?

Mary assumes the position of a learning student – at Jesus’ feet, hanging off his every word, not wanting to miss an instant of his presence. Her devotion is honourable as she chooses to listen and learn. She takes no part in the verbal conversation, but what was going on inside of her? She must have been delighted to hear Jesus’ encouragement of her.

What was going on in Martha? I feel for her as she works alone. Her words are blunt and demanding. Sadly, it sounds familiar to me for, on occasion, I can hear myself get stuck in the details of my hosting plans and demand some help. I love to spoil my guests and let them know how special they are. My attention to detail can infringe on my husband when I expect him to keep up with the preparations. Understandably, he doesn’t always appreciate my “fabulous” ideas! This can add far more stress than is necessary which has its repercussions. It impacts on my husband and gets me “worried and upset about many things”, and it certainly is not putting God first! Good ideas are fine but demanding others conform to them is not what God calls me to. He wants me to seek him first and follow his guidance for my tasks in all things, including hospitality. Then I can serve others as God leads.

Jesus’ response to Martha is tender. He sees her, understands her, and still loves her, but shifts focus to what is most important. I wonder what Martha did next. How did the meal end? I hope Martha heard Jesus’ gentle reprimand and shifted her focus and path onto him. I pray this myself – that in hearing Jesus’ call to turn my eyes to him, he can show me what is important and what is not, and instead of doing things my own way, ask Jesus into conversation with me and seek his leading.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in his wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace. Helen Howard Lemmel 1863–1961

Prayer: Dear Jesus, thank you for your equal love for both Mary and Martha and for us too. When our own ideas drag our focus away from you, realign us to see your face, to turn from our fancies, and seek only you. Keep speaking to us through your Word in our hearts, dear Jesus, as conversation with you is our lifeline to happiness here and peace forever with you. In your name we pray. Amen.

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