Beside the Well
Poor old Martha takes a lot of stick for her servant’s heart. I see her bustling around the kitchen excited to be serving Jesus, her friend. She prepares his favorite dishes in anticipation of a lovely meal with intimate conversation as she, Mary, and Lazarus gather to entertain the Lord.
But her zeal is dampened when she begins to realize she is alone in the task. Mary isn’t lifting a finger and Lazarus is nowhere to be seen. Martha probably isn’t averse to doing the job herself, but preparing a meal in Bible times was more than shoving something in the oven or microwave. Everything had to be prepared from scratch. Bread had to be kneaded and given time to raise, meat had to be butchered and prepared, and herbs had to be collected, cleaned, crushed and mixed with oils.
As she bustled around the kitchen her dander began to fly. Faster and faster she went. More and more agitated she became until she could stand it no longer. As she called out for Mary’s help, she never expected to receive a rebuke.
“Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things” (Luke 10:41), came the word from her guest. Those words really stung. In all of her preparation, she had overlooked the most important part of hospitality—the guest.
Christ wanted to give Martha so much more than a pleasant evening. He wanted to give her of himself—the Bread of Life—the one thing that was needful and would not be taken away. He had not come to merely eat. He came to feed. Martha’s meal could never compare to the food of the word Mary was enjoying as she sat at his feet receiving “that good part” (Luke 10:42). Martha had missed it.
Her experience teaches me a few things about hospitality. 1) Most folks haven’t come to judge you by your meal; they have come to share time with you. 2) When my focus of hospitality is on what I can produce, I miss out on what my guest brings to the table, and 3) A simpler meal with more attention to actual hospitality tastes so much better.
Applying Martha’s lesson to my life I learn, 1) Jesus isn’t there to judge me either. He wants to share time with me. 2) Service has its place, but if my focus is on what I produce, I am missing out on the richness of the relationship found at His feet. 3) A life of simple faith, lived sincerely, is of greater value than accolades of earthly praise.
It even applies to my quiet time. 1) Jesus awaits. 2) I must lay aside my activity and prioritize my guest. 3) He isn’t impressed with how many chapters I read, how much I learn, or how long I pray. He is there to speak with me. Question is: Am I at His feet listening intently or fidgeting and anxious to move on with my day?