Jesus and M&Ms
Posted by Pete
(This post is adapted from an evangelistic sermon I preached at last week’s UTS mission, “MORE”)
Luke 10:38–42 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” 41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”’
Every time I read this passage to someone and ask them who they identify with the most out of the two sisters, almost invariably they say, ‘Martha!’
It’s true isn’t it? I identify with Martha. I feel her frustration. After all, this is her home and she is playing host. Jesus has come to be their guest. She, like me, belongs to a ‘face culture’. Your welcome as a host is found in the kind of meal you prepare for your guest.
And like Martha, who hasn’t felt frustrated at the sibling or friend who isn’t pulling their weight? Or you may remember the group assignments at uni where you’re the only one who’s towing yours and everyone else’s workload. You remember those road trips where you’ve done all the planning and itinerary, and the rest of the group just has fun and complains when things go wrong.
Martha was feeling unappreciated, frustrated, angry… but who hasn’t been in her shoes?
And yet, it’s not Martha who’s commended by Jesus but Mary. Why?
Well, did you notice what’s behind Martha’s fretfulness? Jesus says ‘You are are worried and upset about many things.’ He’s hit the nail on the head. Her problem wasn’t with Mary, it wasn’t with playing host, it was within herself. It was her reasons for being so busy that were causing her to worry and grumble. And what was her reason for working so hard? Simple: she thought that in order to please Jesus she had to perform. She thought that in order to be a good follower, she had to work for his approval. And that’s exactly the problem.
Jesus turns the tables on Martha. He says to her, “Look, you don’t have to be worried about many things. These many things that you’re doing that you think would make me approve of you and be pleased with you are completely unnecessary. There’s only one thing that’s necessary, and it’s what Mary has chosen! Look at her!”
Do you see what Mary was doing? Mary, unlike Martha, understood that you didn’t have to perform to please Jesus. You didn’t have to work for his approval. She knew that when you’re Jesus’ follower, you’re already infinitely accepted, infinitely loved, infinitely approved. In fact, Jesus was on his way (v. 38) to the cross in order to secure that eternal acceptance, love and approval. Jesus doesn’t want us to serve him in order to please him. He came to serve us so that we would please him for all eternity.
Martha didn’t understand that, but Mary did. And because Mary did, she wasn’t there to work for Jesus, she was there to enjoy Jesus.
What about you? In your daily walk with Christ, is he the distant Lord you are afraid of letting down, obliged to serve, hoping to please? Or is he your intimate, your friend, your security and do you know that through his perfect sacrifice you are already completely accepted and utterly beloved?
Get this, and it will change your prayer life. Get this, and you will be closer to the kind of true worship the Father delights in.