Mary & Martha 9.25.16 Sermon


     Some of us get so used to the adrenaline rush of handling crises that we become dependent on it for a sense of excitement and energy. How does urgency feel? Stressful? Pressured? Tense? Exhausting? Sure. But let’s be honest. It’s also sometimes exhilarating. We feel useful. We feel successful. We feel validated. And we get good at it. Whenever there’s trouble, we ride into town, pull out the six-shooter, do the bad guys in, blow the smoke off the gun barrel, and ride into the sunset like a hero. It brings instant results and instant gratification.  It’s become a status symbol in our society – if we’re busy, we’re important; if we’re not busy, we’re almost embarrassed to admit it. Busyness is where we get our security. It’s validating, popular and pleasing. It’s also a good excuse for not dealing with the first things in our lives.

“I’d love to spend quality time with you, but I have to work. There’s this deadline. It’s urgent. Of course, you understand.”

“I just don’t have time to exercise. I know it’s important, but there are so many pressing things right now. Maybe when things slow down a little.”

     Wow.  So this message can be a lesson both to Christians and non-Christians.   For Christians, this can teach us that activity just for the sake of activity is not what Jesus Christ is looking for.  If His Spirit didn’t lead you to it and he didn’t open the door for you to do it, and you are forcing it, then you know it’s not God.  And for non-Christians, I am deeply concerned for people who can’t spend some time thinking about who Jesus is, and what Christianity is all about.  Well, Mary and Martha are two sisters who each had a choice to make about Jesus, and they made their choices.  We will see how we can learn from them both.

Luke 10:38-42 (NLT)

38 As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. 39 Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. 40 But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. 


Jesus and his disciples are on their way to Jerusalem and they stop at a village named Bethany, the home of Mary, Martha and Lazarus.  These extra details about Lazarus and about the town being called Bethany are in the Gospel of John.  Mary sat at Jesus’ feet, listening to his words.  Martha was preoccupied with working and making preparations for dinner.


    Now the fact that as a woman, Mary was sitting at Jesus’ feet is very significant.  A popular teacher, Rabbi Eliezer, from around the time of Jesus is famous for saying:

•”Instructing a woman in the Law is like teaching her blasphemy”

•”Let the Law be burned rather than entrusted to a woman”

•”A woman’s wisdom is limited to the handling of the distaff, or the sewing wheel”

There were other Rabbis who did think it was advisable to teach to woman. But it was not the mainstream thing to do. Remember the place of power, rule and authority is at the feet of JESUS.

     We also see Jesus teaching women in the New Testament. In Luke 10:38, we read of Mary who sits at the feet of Jesus and engages in theological study, This phrase “to sit at the feet of” is the same formulation as Acts 22:3 where Paul describes his training under Gamaliel. The clear implication here is that Mary is affirmed as worthy of a Rabbi’s theological instruction.  In contrast to the cultural norms of the time, Jesus made a habit of revealing great theological truths to women.

     In reality, it is clear that women played a full and vibrant role in the ministry of Jesus, both as examples within his teaching and as recipients of it. While this may seem absolutely right and proper in our 21st century context we must remember how radical this was in first century Palestine. Jesus intentionally affirmed and included women. We see a continuation of this in the early church, from Lydia and Tabitha to Philip’s daughters, to Priscilla.

     Now….we can learn a lot from these great women of faith, and also from Mary.  I think one of the biggest things we can take away from this story is that Mary gave Jesus her undivided attention.  You know, how many of us in our prayer time fall into the habit of just throwing requests at the Lord? Jesus please do this. Jesus please do that. But what about silence? What about listening? It may be that the Spirit of God is giving us answers to our prayers.  And also, some of us may have been dodging this whole Christianity thing for years, not taking Christians, or Jesus Christ, or the Bible seriously.  But yet it keeps coming up.  But have you ever considered seriously listening? And to the Christian, again…does your prayer time include listening?


[1] No one can talk and listen at the same time  — Some of us are excellent multi-taskers. I’m working on my multi-tasking; actually I think I’m okay at it, working a customer service job.  But my wife, now she has the supernatural gift of administration or leadership that 1 Corinthians 12:27-29 talk about.  So she can multi…like no other.

The POINT —- The point is that we are all very busy.  In Japanese it’s totemo isogaashi.  But are we too busy for God? Are we multi-tasking so much, that the most important task, for Christians is being with Jesus, and for non-Christians, investigating the claims of the most famous and influential person of all-time, are we all too busy for that? Are you too busy for the best-selling book of all-time? How can that be?

The Greek word used for listen here is akouō (ä-kü’-ō), which can mean to be endowed with the faculty of hearing, not deaf, to hear, to attend to, consider what is or has been said, to understand, perceive the sense of what is said, to hear something, to perceive by the ear what is announced in one’s presence, to get by hearing learn, a thing comes to one’s ears, to find out, learn, to give the ear to a teaching or a teacher, to comprehend, to understand.

See…akouo is a verb which means deliberate, intentional action.  We can’t hear and talk at the same time, the idea with the Lord is to listen/hear more and talk less. And since we’re still on earth, we have to work and our time with the LORD JESUS is very limited that’s why we never waste it and hear intently from the LORD JESUS:

Ephesians 5:15-17New Living Translation (NLT) 15 So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. 16 Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. 17 Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. 

“The world and society say, “Do more! Be all that you can be!” But our Father whispers, “Be still and know that I am God.”Joanna Weaver

In our world we put so much of an emphasis on accomplishments, but you know what? But what about people looking at you at the end of your life and saying, that guy Cam, he knew Jesus.  He knew Jesus Christ.


Jesus is saying if you’ll just be with me, I’ll take care of everything else.  This was a lesson that Martha had to learn, and so do we.

Luke 10:40 (NLT) She came to Jesus and said, “Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.”


Martha in this verse continues to voice her complaints to the Lord.  She then tells the Lord to make her sister help her.


    So we’ve taken a look at Martha’s frustration. She gets so agitated that she forgets who she’s talking to.  Oftentimes we do the same things, don’t we? We say, Jesus hurry up and heal that sick person in my life or hurry up and fix my marriage or my savings? But we do it all the time.  People are funny to me sometimes, when they make coming to church about them instead of Jesus.  Now I understand that some people struggle to get to service on time for whatever reason, and I know we have a lot of young children here, I understand.  But I’m talking about people who are late to the singing because they don’t like the style.  Or they stay for the singing but leave when the message starts.  But both of those are terrible motives!!! The best way is to go to church early, minister to other believers as well, prepare your tithes and offerings and when the service starts, give all you got in praise and worship and when preaching starts “sit at JESUS’s feet and hear”


[2] We learn what we should do for God by being with God — 

     And not a creature exists that is concealed from His sight, but all things are open and exposed, naked and defenseless to the eyes of Him with Whom we have to do.

Every WORD of GOD that comes out from the pulpit is for you for that day, it’s for you to strengthen you physically and spiritually. If you will not listen to the LORD JESUS then you’ve already decided to listen to other things such as your heart, our heart also talks, and it even condemns us, that’s why we learn that the LORD is greater than our hearts, so our priority to listen and hear is the LORD.  Be JESUS-conscious not self-conscious.

     Martha is crazy! She’s giving orders to Jesus! I don’t even think Jesus’ mom talked to him like that! But Jesus handled the potential crisis professionally, like he always does.  He said to Martha, calm down, relax.  You ain’t got no chill, like my son always says.  Jesus was telling Martha, and he is telling us, to relax sometimes.  Don’t place your self-worth and identity in what you can achieve.

VIDEO…(Jesus Is Better)…..

VIDEO LINK:  Jesus is better – Halim Suh Sermon Jam

How can we rest in this world if we have many things to do? At the feet of JESUS, that’s the answer. We rest in our faith.  At the feet of JESUS, there’s peace.  At the feet of JESUS, there’s faith.  At the feet of JESUS, there’s healing.  At the feet of JESUS, there’s salvation.  At the feet of JESUS, there’s comfort.  At the feet of JESUS, there’s life.

At the feet of JESUS, there’s solutions.  At the feet of JESUS, there’s strength.

     On top of everything, we need to have our devotions first and foremost. As a pastor, I don’t need to counsel first, I don’t need to pray for the sick, I don’t need to teach on Sunday first.  Come to the LORD JESUS first and foremost, be counseled first by the LORD JESUS, be comforted first by the LORD JESUS, be ministered to by the LORD JESUS first.

“Service without spirituality is exhausting and hopeless. But . . . spirituality without service is barren and selfish.” Joanna Weaver


Jesus finally does respond to Mary with grace and compassion.

Luke 10: 41-2 (NLT) 41 But the Lord said to her, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! 42 There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.”


Jesus told Martha that she was worried and upset over all the details of dinner.  But there was only one thing worth being concerned about.  Mary discovered what it was, and her discovery would not be taken away from her.


      Now, Mary hadn’t started out to be foolish. She’d actually been trying to be a very gracious hostess to Jesus and His disciples. Everything she set before them had to be made from scratch. But she did this gladly, because Jesus and His men were honored guests.  And while she prepared the meal… Jesus sat down in the next room and began to teach.

Now, (Martha’s sister) Mary is there.

And she’s excited. She loves Jesus. She idolizes Him. He’s her hero. John 12:3 Tells of another time that Jesus came to their house and it says “Mary (took) a pound of very costly ointment… and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair and her tears…”Jesus is Mary’s hero. She literally worships the ground He walks on.

And NOW… here He is… in her house… and He’s teaching. This is GREAT!

Mary doesn’t get much of a chance to listen to Jesus. But now here He is and she’s so excited she just sits right down at Jesus’ feet and listens to Him. And she forgets ALL about Martha And the meal And setting the table.  Mary’s just sitting there and doing nothing.  And Martha starts getting so mad she can hardly see straight. Finally… she has had ALL SHE CAN TAKE! She stomps right over to Jesus and she says: “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? TELL HER to help me!” Luke 10:40

Now, this is wrong on so many levels, it’s hard to know where to start.

Notice: Did Jesus ever tell Martha she was wrong for working in the kitchen?

Did He rebuke her for not being in the room listening to Him teach?

No.  Why else do you think Jesus shows up there so often to eat?

And in our story this morning, it’s not like Martha couldn’t have heard Jesus while she was working. It’s not THAT big a house. She’s probably just in the next room – and Jesus has a voice loud enough to teach 1000s.

When Jesus came to her house she could have prepared the meal AND LISTENED to Him.  But she wasn’t. Martha was NOT listening to Jesus. And, why wasn’t she listening???? Well, verse 40 says – “Martha was distracted…” Luke 10:40 Who is distracting her? Mary is.  Mary’s not doing what Martha thinks she should.

Martha was being a servant. I thought that was what we were supposed to be doing!

Isn’t that what we’re supposed to do?  But you know what? Nothing matters like knowing Christ intimately first before anything else.  You will not go out and move mountains and start riots without the power of God flowing through you.


[3] Doing things for Jesus can’t replace being with Jesus — 

At the end of the day, the reason we come together is because of Jesus.  It’s all about him.  And for anybody here today who is not a Christian, it’s still all about Jesus.  I could go on for days about who Jesus is, but instead, I’ll quote from John Ortberg’s outstanding book about Christ, who is this Man?:

 Jesus’ impact on our world is highly unlikely, widely inescapable, largely unknown, and decidedly double-edged. He is history’s most familiar figure, yet he is the man no one knows. His impact on the world is immense and non-accidental. From the Dark Ages to Post-Modernity he is the Man who won’t go away. And yet . . .you can miss him in historical lists for many reasons, maybe the most obvious being the way he lived his life. He did not loudly and demonstrably defend his movement in the spirit of a rising political or military leader. His life and teaching simply drew people to follow him. He made history by starting in a humble place, in a spirit of love and acceptance, and allowing each person space to respond. 

His vision of life continues to haunt and challenge humanity. His influence has swept over history bringing inspiration to what has happened in art, science, government, medicine, and education; he has taught humans about dignity, compassion, forgiveness, and hope ― John Ortberg, Who Is This Man?: The Unpredictable Impact of the Inescapable Jesus.

TRANSITION BACK TO TEXT: So again, I used this quote because I think this also applies to people who don’t know Jesus.  He has not given anyone the option of ignoring him.  Some of you have been running from Jesus for years, but now he is calling you, saying what are you going to do about me? Are you thinking like Martha, I’m too busy to here this preaching stuff? Well…what about Jesus saying he died for your sins and mine? And what about his offer of everlasting life? That’s not something I would take lightly.  Jesus called to Martha in Luke 10:41-42…

”Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:41-42

Now I’m speaking to my Christians again…Notice how gentle Jesus is with her.  He’s not belittling her ministry.He’s not questioning her love for Him.  He says her name… twice (Martha, Martha)

IT’s almost like He’s saying: It’s ok. You’ve done good things — and I appreciate it. BUT Martha, you forgot something. You forgot to put ME FIRST. Doing things for the Lord does not replace your relationship with Him.

ILLUS: I knew of a church once where there were 3 or 4 very talented piano players in the congregation and they got really bent out of shape when they didn’t get their “fair share” of playing time in worship. Why were they upset? They were upset because their ministry at the piano didn’t belong to Jesus… it belonged to them.

They were Marthas.

     I have heard of preachers who have ruined youth ministers because they became jealous of them, and I know of one preacher that ran through 3 youth ministers in 5 years because he felt threatened by how well they did their ministry.  Martha moments can happen to any of us.  And, it’s when that happens (if we let Him) Jesus takes us aside and says our name softly…“Neighborhood Misawa, you’re anxious and troubled about many things. There’s only ONE thing that’s important – glorifying Jesus in this church. Sitting at His feet and loving on Him.”

You see, if you are outside of a relationship with Christ, I am challenging you to decide to devote your life to Jesus.  He is the centerpiece and cornerstone of civilization.  He has split history in two.  Then if you are a person who follows Christ, you have to remember that the things you do, you do for Him and him alone.  People will be inconsistent, and people will upset you, but remind yourself of who Jesus is, and then let Him be your source of motivation.


For the next few weeks, I want to concentrate on sitting at Jesus’ feet like Mary did. Some of you already do daily devotions with a Bible program on an app. But if you don’t… starting in January, why don’t we try as a church, to read through the entire New Testament in a year? I believe we can do it! And as you do these devotions I want you to focus on asking yourself what Jesus wants you to do with the information you read. One wise person once said “It’s not how many times you’ve been through the Bible. It’s how many times the Bible has been through you.”

QUOTE:  “All over the world, people go to unimaginable lengths to find God–which is sad when you consider the unimaginable lengths God has already gone to find us” Joanna Weaver, Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World: Finding Intimacy with God in the Busyness of Life


One day the late great missionary to China, J Hudson Taylor, was traveling on a Chinese junk from Shanghai to Ningpo, sometime in the 1800s. He had been witnessing to a man named Peter who rejected the gospel but was under deep conviction. In the course of events, Peter fell overboard, but no one made any effort to save him. Taylor sprang to the mast, let down the sail, and jumped overboard in hopes of finding his friend. But no one on board joined Taylor in his frantic search. Taylor saw a fishing boat nearby and yelled to them to help, but they wouldn’t do it without money. Finally, after bartering for every penny that Taylor had, the fishermen stopped their fishing and began to look for Peter. In less than a minute of dragging their net, they found him, but it was too late. They were too busy fishing to care about saving a drowning man.

We can easily condemn the selfish indifference of those fishermen, but by indicting them, we may condemn ourselves. Are we too busy with our jobs and other activities to take the time to rescue those who are perishing without Christ?


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