Luke: Martha and Mary

Read: Luke 10:38-42

Of all the stories Luke has to choose from, and I’m sure there were literally hundreds, he selected a scene were two sisters appeared in conflict. In an age where women were minimalized overtly, we are asked to consider who is doing the most important thing. Martha takes charge while Mary doesn’t say a word, and apparently didn’t do anything to lend a hand in preparation for Jesus’ visit.

Before we get too critical of Martha, we need to consider that she took the initiative and opened her home to Jesus and the disciples.

…he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. Luke 10:38

The event seems much more impromptu than something planned for days. Martha and Mary probably heard they were coming through when Martha decided to make her home available. This is a good thing.

But the point of opening her home was not for the home itself. The point was to meet with Jesus. Mary saw this opportunity and was all in, while Martha was busy trying to “cook the casserole” as Albert Tate embellished.

Martha isn’t the shy one in the story, to say the least, so she confronts Jesus:

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!” Luke 10:40

She “asked” with the expectation that Jesus would send Mary to the kitchen to help. Jesus lovingly rebukes Martha with words I hope I can learn to take to heart:

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

Look at how we “do” church these days, perhaps how we do anything. How many times are we so focused on the preparations that we miss the time of gathering?

I definitely have a Martha-complex when it comes to events. I get so focused on preparation that I often miss out on the interaction for which the event was created. It’s necessary, to a point, but this passage convicts me and challenges me to stop worrying about many things and focus on the few, or indeed the one thing that is needed. Guilty.

Albert Tate used this text to open the main session at Exponential 2018 just a ten days ago (time flies). I’d love to just insert his talk here, it will definitely be one to see when we get the Digital Access Pass, but one of his main points is simply this:

Are you living for your resume or are you living for your eulogy?Albert Tate

As we settle into the rhythm of ministry, whatever titles are attached to our names, I hope we focus on the one thing that really matters and let go of the busyness that creeps in to control our lives. We need to learn to think differently, as Albert reminded us, to focus more on being a hero maker than shining the light on ourselves.

Lord, there is much to do each and every day. Help us to help each other to remember the better thing, even the best thing to do at any given moment.


Albert Tate is the founder and lead pastor of Fellowship Monrovia. Hearing the call from God, Albert and his wife LaRosa planted Fellowship Monrovia a Gospel-Centered, Multi-Ethnic and Intergenerational church in January 2012.

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