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Luke 10:38-42

Before Reading the Passage

Follow the life of Jesus in the Gospels and you will discover that Jesus enjoyed being invited to different homes, for both food and fellowship.

• We find Him in the home of Simon Peter, and Matthew, and Zacchaeus, and Simon the leper and others.

• But there was one home where Jesus seemed to especially enjoy the hospitality, and that was in the home of Many, Martha, and their brother, Lazarus.

• Jesus seemed to have a special attachment to this little family. He always found a warm, welcome spirit there. He always felt at ease there, away from the tensions and pressures that surrounded Him.

It is always good for a preacher to find such a home where there is always a warm, welcome spirit and he is made to feel at ease.

Pete Evans at New Albany: Lady said to him, “You don't ever come to visit me...” He said, “Let me ask you two questions: (a) How many times have you invited me to come to your home? (b) How many times have you been to my home?”

Jesus always felt welcome in this home in Bethany.

I wonder if Jesus feels welcome in your home. Have you so opened the doors of your home and said, “Lord Jesus, you are welcome in this place.”?

I want us to see what happened in this home on one of our Lord's visits.

Read the Passage.

This passage in Luke 10 teaches us the importance of coming often to the feet of Jesus. That is especially true in our day.

Someone said, “We are living in a rat race, and it looks like the rats are winning!”

• We are so busy that if God wants to speak to us, He'll have to leave a message on our answering machine!

• That's true even in our church life.

We need to learn to slow the pace of life a bit. Someone prayed:


“Slow me down, Lord! Ease the pounding of my heart by the quieting of my mind. Steady my hurried pace with a vision of the eternal reach of time. Give me, amidst the confusion of my day, the calmness of the everlasting hills. Break the tensions of my nerves and muscles with the soothing music of the singing streams that live in my memory. Help me to know the magic restoring power of sleep. Teach me the art of taking Minute Vacations...of slowing down to look at a flower, to chat with a friend, to pat a dog, to read a few lines from a good book. Remind me each day of the fable of the hare and the tortoise that I may know that the race is not always to the swift; that there is more to life than increasing its speed. Let me look upward into branches of the towering oak and know that it grew great and strong because it grew slowly and well. Slow me down, Lord, and inspire me to send my roots deep into the soil of life's enduring values that I may grow toward the stars of my greater destiny. Amen.”

Three things I want you to see as we look at this encounter with Jesus:

The Sisters

It was interesting to me to discover that the name “Martha” means “lady,” and the name “Mary” means “bitterness.” Reading this passage it seems that these two sisters ought to exchange names.

Since Mary is the name of our Lord's earthly mother, many have tried their best to change the meaning of her name to something less harsh. They have changed the meaning to “trouble,” but her name literally means “bitter.” Thank God, she didn't live up to her name; in fact, the very opposite is true of her. She had a very sweet, loving, kind spirit.

Let me contrast these two sisters for you:

A. Martha: The Worry Wart

• There were some very good qualities in her life – all is not bad. She was gracious, full of energy and enthusiasm. She was certainly not lazy; in fact, she was a workaholic. She must have been a good cook.

• She is the one who invited the Lord Jesus into her home; not Mary.

• But we are going to see that she is also fussy at times. She was uptight, anxious and often overextended herself which made her a bit pushy and at time critical of others and domineering.

• But she truly loved Jesus with all of her heart.

B. Mary: The Warm Hearted

• Every time you see Mary in Scripture, she is at the feet of Jesus – in lowliness, loving and learning from Him.

• She had the spirit of Paul – Philippians 3:10. A second-handed account wasn't good enough either; she was determined to hear His words for herself.

- Luke 10 She listens to His WORDS and receives His BLESSINGS.

- John 11 She comes before Him with her WOE and He lifts her BURDENS.

- John 12 She comes before Him in WORSHIP and she presents to Him her BEST.

We are going to see that Martha opened her Home to Jesus, but Mary opened her Heart!


II. The Scene

Three people lived in that little house in Bethany. We know from the passage that Mary and Martha were there; Lazarus is not mentioned and may have been gone somewhere else.

I have heard messages on this account and the impression was given that Mary was somewhat lazy, just letting Martha do all the work in the kitchen while Mary just sat at the Lord's feet. But look at 10:40 – “My sister has left me to serve alone.” Mary had been working, too. I think she had done her part. She enjoyed working for the Lord; now she wants to worship the Lord.

I can see Mary as she makes her way to where the Lord is and sits at His feet.

• Sitting at someone's feet was an activity of worship. It was an act whereby one recognized the superiority of the one at whose feet you sat. It was a position of reverence and worship. You would be at one's feet to learn and to receive from the one at whose feet you sat. You honored the person when you sat at his feet.

• As Jesus began to speak to Mary, I think Martha also listened. Martha wasn't stopping her ears and refusing to listen. But then she got distracted with the pots and pans and she missed some of what was said. Then another distraction and she missed more. Now, she began to get frustrated; then angry at Mary; then she could not hear the words of the Lord anymore – just noise because of the words and the conversation she was having with herself because she was so upset with Mary.

How many times after a service have you gone to your car and realized that you heard only about half of the service because you were distracted or let your mind wander and you couldn't hear from God because you had something else on your mind?

Look at the words Jesus used to describe Martha:

• 10:40 “Cumbered” – means to be distracted; to be all wrapped up in other things.

• 10:41 “Careful” – means to be anxious, worried, fretful. It's the opposite of faith.

• 10:41 “ Troubled” – means to be disturbed in mind and emotion. She was angry.

Watch Martha's outburst – 10:40 – Her complaint was toward both Jesus and Mary.

A. Her Complaint Dishonored the Lord

• “Lord, do You not care?” Martha, you've forgotten who you're speaking to. Are you accusing Jesus of not caring.

• It was not Jesus who didn't care, but it was Martha who had the caring problem.

• She didn't care enough to listen to the teachings of our Lord.

B. Her Complaint Disrupted the Family

• Martha's accusation didn't stop with Jesus; she went on to criticize Mary.

• That kind of accusation would do anything but bond the family together in peace. It would only disrupt the family.

• Remember, she was doing service for the Lord, and here she is anxious, agitated and frustrated.


*Do you ever get agitated, frustrated and anxious in the service of the Lord? If so, it may be that you're not spending enough time at the feet of the Lord.

Don't miss this: It is possible to work for the Lord and serve the Lord and at the same time forget the Lord. We can engage in church work and lose fellowship with the Lord because we neglect to sit at His feet.

How can you tell if you've not been at the feet of Jesus enough, fellowshiping and learning from Him?

• When your Christianity becomes a LOAD instead of a LIFT, you need to send more time at His feet.

• It's one thing to get tired IN the work of the Lord; it's another to get tired OF the work. If that happens, you need to spend time at His feet.

• I've heard folks say, “I'd rather burn out than rust out.” Listen: Either way, you're out. God wants neither for us. He wants us to live out, by learning from Him.

Do you realize that Martha could have done more for Jesus if she had done less? We need a balance of work and worship.

• Martha carried a good thing to a sinful extreme, and so can we.

• The Lord didn't want Martha's cooking as much as He wanted her company.

C. Her Complaint Discredited Devotion

• Mary's devotion to Christ was the problem for Martha. Martha didn't come right out and say so, but it is plainly implied.

• She was angry at Mary because she knew that she, too, should have been at the feet of Jesus, but she was distracted by other things.

• Martha attempted to force Mary to serve the Lord her way. She wanted Mary away from the feet of Jesus and in the kitchen with her, because in her estimation, what she was doing was more important. She had spiritual tunnel vision.

• That's common in the church. If others were good Christians like me, they would live like me, be interested in the same things I'm interested in and be committed to the things I'm committed to. That's spiritual tunnel vision.

• Because we have certain spiritual gives or abilities, we have our pet programs – “My interest is better than your interest.” It may be the youth program, men's or lady's ministry, choir.

D. Her Complaint Dignified Self

• She wanted Jesus to give her interest priority.

• Folks who are wound tight like Martha give everything to one area and lose sight that they need to sit at the feet of Jesus.

• Truth is, we are not all alike. Be Thankful!

III. The Sermon 10:40-41

The meal will only last a few minutes and it will be gone, but fellowship with Me will impact you forever.


Jesus would not have been honored if there had been no preparation, but He would have been doubly honored if there had been a balance between work and worship.

• Don't allow the good to become the enemy of the best. Jesus desires our fellowship.

• “If Satan can't make us bad, he'll make us busy.” Satan can't “make us” anything. We make the choice, just like Mary made her choice and Martha made her choice.

A young Christian lady said to an older Christian lady, “I would give the world if I could have the Christian influence and power you possess.” The older lady replied, “That's exactly what it will cost you.”

Do you think Martha enjoyed her meal? No. She was worried, angry, tired and, now, ashamed.

Do you think Jesus enjoyed the meal? I think the meal lost much of its flavor when He saw the disharmony between the two sisters.

Do you think Mary enjoyed the meal? No. I think Martha's rebuke made her feel ill at ease and embarrassed.

How did Martha respond? Did she take her apron off and sit at the feet of Jesus? I hope so.

Are you serving the Lord? For your service to be effective, you must spend time at the feet of Jesus – in fellowship with Him.