"What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost, until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'"
October 7, 2009
A few weeks ago, Jon and I attended a Sunday morning service with my nephew, my niece and her husband. The passage of scripture the pastor preached from was Luke 10:38-42, which is the story of Martha and Mary. He made a statement which I thought was very interesting. He said, "The choices we make aren't always between good and evil; sometimes it's between better and best."
I think that sometimes we forget that the choices we make aren't always between good and bad, but sometimes it's between good, better, and best.
In this particular story, Jesus entered the village of Bethany, and Martha welcomed Him into her house. Some scholars believe since it says "her" home, that perhaps she was the older sister of Mary and Lazarus. No one knows for sure; it could also just be in the wording of the translation. We do know that Jesus was friends with the two sisters and their brother. Very likely, He had been a guest in their home on previous occasions. That may have been His home away from home whenever He was in Bethany.
Many people give Martha a lot of flack, but I can understand things from her perspective.
Whenever I have guests coming to my house, I make preparations beforehand and want everyone to enjoy themselves and feel comfortable. I clean house, and put a lot of thought and time into preparing the meal. I try to cook something that I think my guests will all like. I try to time the various dishes so that all the food will be hot and fresh when they arrive. I want everyone to relax and feel comfortable in my home. Most generally, I will prepare too much food because I'd much rather have leftovers, than to barely have enough to go around. I want people to feel free to help themselves to as much as they'd care to eat, and not be concerned about there not being plenty. Jon and I like leftovers, and having food cooked up for the next couple days is fine with us. Also, I'm free to send food home with one of the guests if they particularly enjoyed one of the dishes.
Perhaps Martha knew that Jesus had been walking and ministering for several days or weeks. The scripture doesn't say whether or not any of His disciples were with Him, but that's a very likely possibility. She may have received word that they were coming and wasn't sure how many would be with Him, so was trying to cook enough for however many showed up, and wanted to be sure that there would be plenty to eat. Martha had the gift of hospitality and probably took joy from feeding Jesus and His disciples a home-cooked meal. She may have wanted them to feel comfortable to come in and relax in her home, kick their feet up, and fill their bellies until they were full. But in doing so, it took a lot of time and preparation on her part.
Lazarus may have been underfoot all day. Like most men, he may have been in the kitchen asking if he could help, which usually means, "Do you have any food ready that I can sample?" Martha may have got tired of him picking at the food, and shooed him outside to mow the yard or clean the windows, or whatever outdoor chore women needed done back in those days.
Mary may have cleaned the house and gotten things spic-and-span. Perhaps Martha had been having her run out to the garden to pick some fresh vegetables or running to the market to get some fruit off and on all day. She may have said, "Martha, you already have more than enough cooked! Sit down and take a break." She may have encouraged her sister to finish up so that when Jesus arrived she could sit in the living room and visit with Him.
But I can see Martha wanting the bread to be hot, and wanting the meat to be tender, and trying to decide whether or not she needed to make one more fruit salad to go along with the meal.
Jesus arrived and Mary went in and sat at His feet to listen to His words. I don't know if He was teaching or if He was telling about the journey He and His disciples had just been on. But Mary wanted to be right there with Him so that she could hear every word that He spoke. She didn't want to miss out on anything that He said.
While Martha may have felt like it was an honor to serve Jesus and care for Him, Mary may have felt that the honor was in sitting at His feet and listening to His every word. Both women had good intentions and were doing good things.
The distinction came in their attitudes. Mary didn't say, "Lord, would you make Martha stop cooking and get in here and sit down! She's rattling the pans and making so much noise that it's distracting. I told her that we had enough food but she wouldn't listen to me." No, Mary sat quietly and listened to Jesus speak.
On the other hand, Martha saw her sister sitting while there was still work to be done in order to get the meal on the table. She began to stew about it and get irritated that she was having to do all the work by herself while Mary was just sitting.
Perhaps she thought if Jesus, and those who may have been with Him, were as hungry from traveling as she thought they were, then Jesus would take her side in things.
Martha started a tirade. "Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me."
She may have thought that Mary wouldn't pay any attention to her if she asked her to come help, but if Jesus told her to help, then she'd do it. Martha's attitude may have changed from wanting to serve a good home-cooked meal to Jesus and those in her home, to feeling sorry for herself that she was having to do all the work alone.
When we begin feeling sorry for ourselves, we start thinking that Jesus doesn't care about how we feel. Martha asked Jesus, "Do you not care that Mary has left me alone to serve?" She may have been feeling left out. Everyone was gathered in another part of the house where she couldn't hear what was being said, and she was left alone. Perhaps she began thinking that Jesus had forgot about her and didn't care that she had spent all day cooking and preparing for His arrival.
Jesus answered, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part which will not be taken away from her."
Jesus wasn't rebuking Martha for cooking a good meal for Him and the rest who were in her house. In fact, He may have eaten Martha's cooking in the past and knew that she would have a wonderful feast prepared for them, and was looking forward to the meal. Very likely, had Martha not come storming in where He was, wanting Him to rebuke Mary for not helping her, Jesus probably wouldn't have said anything to her about this at all. I think He was telling her that she needed an attitude adjustment. He told her that she was worried and troubled about many things. But what Mary had chosen to do was something good that would never be taken away from her. In other words, the meal would end and eventually be forgotten. But the experience of sitting at Jesus' feet and listening to His words would live forever in Mary's heart and always be remembered. Food only fills a man's belly for so long, then he has to eat again. But taking time to sit and listen and learn is something that will stay with you and not fade away.
Martha inviting Jesus into her home was a good thing. Preparing a meal, serving Jesus and the others, and seeing that they were being cared for was an even better thing. But Mary stopping what she was doing, going in and sitting at the feet of Jesus and listening to His words was the best thing. They were all honorable, good things to do. But there were choices made between doing what was just good, what was better, and what was best.
Too often we settle for just the good in life. We don't seek after the better and the best. May we all make a conscientious effort to always go after those things that are God's best for us.
There are times in each of our lives when we need to serve others in one way or another. I have several relatives who are called to be preachers. And others have been called to serve by helping foreign missions. Loretta has sung or played the piano many times. (I serve better by singing very quietly.) Most of us can serve from time to time by ushering, cooking for church dinners, or even just walking slowly in with someone who can't walk so fast.
But we all need to take time to stop and listen to God's Word, and whatever Jesus says.
Chocolate Pecan Pie
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup dark syrup
2 squares unsweetened chocolate, melted
1/4 tsp. Salt
1 tsp. Vanilla
1 Tbsp. Flour
1 1/4 cups pecan halves
1 Tbsp. Butter
1 unbaked pie crust
Beat together sugar, syrup, salt, flour and eggs. Add butter, chocolate, vanilla and pecans. Mix well. Pour into pie crust. Bake at 350 for 50-60 minutes until set.
Jon and I have safely returned from our Singapore adventure.
We discovered that driving was a bit different than what we were used to! We mainly took a taxi when we went to various places. They drove on the left side of the road. It seemed as if the white lines that marked the lanes were only used as "suggestions". The drivers were very aggressive and when they decided to change lanes, they just went over.
Motorcycles seemed to have no laws. When traffic was stopped at stoplights, they would drive between cars to get to the front of the line. They would also drive on the white lines to get between cars while driving down the road.
We also saw lorry trucks, which are small trucks with short beds, hauling people. These were used to drop off and pick up workers at the docks and various locations. It seemed very strange to see these trucks with the back filled with people driving down the roads. Apparently seat belt laws are a bit different there.
Surprisingly, we rarely saw or heard of any accidents. They do have signs over the highways where messages were displayed for various things. When there was an accident, it would show a picture of a truck lying on its side.
Thankfully, we hadn't tried to rent a car and drive on our own!!
Cell phone vs Bible
Ever wonder what would happen if we treated our Bible like we treat our cell phone?
What if we carried it around in our purses or pockets?
What if we flipped through it several times a day?
What if we turned back to go get it if we forgot it?
What if we used it to receive messages from the text?
What if we treated it like we couldn't live without it?
What if we gave it to kids as gifts?
What if we used it in case of emergency?
This is something to make you go ...hmm...where is my Bible?
Oh, and one more thing.
Unlike our cell phone, we don't have to worry about our Bible being disconnected because Jesus already paid the bill.
Makes you stop and think, where are my priorities?
And no dropped call!
We love you!
Loretta & Jon