Mary and Martha—”Lord, tell my sister to get a move on!”

Mary and Martha—”Lord, tell my sister to get a move on!”

(Luke 10:38-42)

Jesus visited Mary and Martha. The thought of Martha working while Mary sat, conjures up images of unequal work distribution. We imagine Martha clad with apron, peeling potatoes and putting a roast in the oven. All the while imagining Mary sitting serenely in comfort, taking in every word that Jesus spoke.I would say that the second image is accurate. But the first? far from it. Mary, Martha and Lazarus were rich. Remember Judas’ bulging eyes when Mary poured a pint of expensive perfume on Jesus’ feet? (Yes, that Mary). Martha, being the obvious hostess, was probably a widow who had her brother and sister staying with her. They believed in Jesus and enjoyed a special family friendship. Martha was doing that which was normal and expected. Hospitality was an important part of Jewish life. In this house servants would have been running in all directions and Martha hurrying them along.Though Jesus enjoyed hospitality, he didn’t live for it. He told his would-be disciples, “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head” (Lk.9:58).Jesus probably met Martha’s complaint with a smile. Especially since she was blaming Jesus for Mary’s indolence, and asking him to tell her sister to get a move on! Martha was indeed “worried and upset about many things.” And who wouldn’t be with Jesus and, who knows how many disciples arriving out of nowhere? That would have been Martha’s take, anyway. To adjust a well-used saying, “Jesus always kept the main thing the main thing.” Martha was distracted with the preparations of the food of this life. It eventually disappears, having done its earthly job. He said, “Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”Jesus was just telling Mary and Marth that which he told everyone else: “Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval” (Jn.6:27).


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