Passage: Luke 10:38–10:42
†††In the Name of Jesus†††
Pastor Murray Keith
Text: Luke 10:38-42
Date: July 17th, 2016; Pentecost 9; Series C
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem, and he stopped in at Mary and Martha’s for a visit.
This would have been a great honour for them!
Understandably, Martha wanted to make sure that her Lord felt welcomed and had everything he needed to be comfortable.
So, she was being a good host and was preparing some food and drinks. Our text says that she was “distracted with much serving” (Luke 10:40).
Mary wasn’t helping Martha, but was sitting at Jesus feet, listening to what he was teaching.
Understandably, Martha didn’t think this was fair – here she was working hard to serve Jesus and lazy Mary was just sitting there at his feet!
Martha appealed to Jesus, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her then to help me!” (Luke 10:40).
Surprisingly Jesus takes Mary’s side. He said, "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” (Luke 10:41-42).
Once again, Jesus seems to turn everything upside down.
It doesn’t seem fair that Martha is doing all of the work, while Mary is just sitting there.
But Jesus had something to teach Martha and Mary - and all of us.
Jesus is teaching us that there is absolutely nothing more important in our lives than to receive the Word of God.
He is also teaching us that he didn’t come to be served, but to serve us.
Listening to Jesus is so important because it is through hearing the Word that we actually receive his gifts of forgiveness and salvation.
St. Paul wrote in his letter to the Romans, “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17).
The words of Christ work faith in us and it is faith that receives the gift of salvation.
We confess and sing this truth in the liturgy. Just before we hear the Gospel reading we sing, “These things are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.” (John 20:31).
At other times, Jesus makes it very clear how important it is to hear his Word so that we may receive what they promise. He said, “The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life” (John 6:63).
He also promised: “If you abide in my Word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31–32).
Jesus promises us so many blessings as he serves us through his Word!
These promises were also for Martha.
Soon he would complete his way to Jerusalem - there to suffer, die, and rise again as he promised.
By his death on the cross, he defeated death.
By the shedding of his blood, he cleanses us of our sin.
By his resurrection, Jesus leads the way for all of us who will be raised on the Last Day to join him in heaven. Including you and me.
These things (the better things!) Jesus wanted to speak and he wanted Martha to hear.
This was the time for the sisters to listen.
Now is the time for us to listen and hear this Good News as well!
For Martha, for you, there is one thing that is necessary - the Word of God spoken to you, the Good News of God’s forgiveness and gift of eternal life.
This is the good portion.
This is why we gather here.
To receive in faith the gifts of salvation from our Lord who serves us.
That’s why our hymns are not mainly focused on what we are doing or feeling, but on what God has done for us in Christ.
In the liturgy we speak, sing, and hear God’s Word and actually receive the promises contained in it.
This is why we call it Divine Service. The Divine, God, serves us.
Then, having been served, having received God’s gifts, we pray with the Psalmist, “O Lord, open my lips and my mouth will declare your praise” (Psalm 51:15).
The priority is to receive what Jesus has to give us - and then, and only then, are we able to respond with praise and thanksgiving and lives of service to God and our neighbour.
Dear Christian friends, do not be anxious and troubled like Martha, but with Mary listen to our Lord’s voice.
Hear him tell you that you are his forgiven and redeemed child.
Hear him tell you that eternal life is yours.
This is the good portion, which will not be taken away from you. Amen.
The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus unto life everlasting. Amen.