|Volume 20 Number 5 May 2018||
Martha Lynn Rushmore
Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.” And Jesus answered and said to her, “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.” (Luke 10:38-42 NKJV)
The focus of this passage is not that people should be unconcerned with household chores, but that the proper attitude toward Jesus is to listen to Him and to obey His words. A sharp contrast was portrayed between the two sisters. Mary sat and listened to Jesus, while Martha prepared for a meal. The phrase only “one thing is needed” (Luke 10:42) refers to listening to Jesus’ words, which Mary had chosen to do. The same theme is seen in Luke 8:1-21.
Mary and Martha were sisters to Lazarus. They lived in the town of Bethany. Jesus came to visit. Martha was preparing the meal for their guests. Martha was just like us. Friends visit, and we want everything to be just right. However, Mary sat at Jesus’ feet and listened to Him, and on another occasion, she had also washed Jesus’ feet with oil and dried them with her hair (John 11:1-2). In the Luke 10 account, Martha complained to the Lord that Mary was not helping her. Jesus replied that Martha was busy with much serving. Mary had made a better choice—serving the Lord.
John 11:1-12:12 provides additional information about Mary, Martha and Lazarus. Lazarus, the brother of Mary and Martha, died. As noted already, they lived in Bethany. Mary and Martha sent for Jesus to come because Lazarus was sick. Jesus told the disciples that they needed to go to Bethany. They did not want Jesus to go because the Jews wanted to kill Jesus. However, two days later, Jesus told His apostles that through the death of Lazarus they would believe.
Martha went out to meet Christ and told Jesus that if He had come earlier, Lazarus would not have died. She said Lazarus had been dead four days and that “he stinketh” (John 11:29 KJV; “stench” NKJV). Then, Martha departed to get Mary. Martha and Mary—in great distress— returned to Jesus. Our Lord cried because of the sadness of his friends, not because of the death of Lazarus.
Going to the grave, Jesus told Martha that her brother would rise again. She thought it was at the final resurrection about which Jesus was talking. However, Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead at that time.
Martha seems to get a bad name because she was preparing physical food for the Lord instead of letting Jesus feed her spiritual food. We do the same thing. If company is coming, we scurry around trying to get the house cleaned, dishes washed, floors swept, furniture dusted and cooking done.
We, too, should be studying God’s Word more and getting our spiritual food. We seem to overlook the fact that Martha went to the grave first and then ran to get Mary and bring her to the tomb. We ladies all have some of Martha and Mary in us. Let us remember to keep our priorities straight.
Singing helps one focus on God. Such was the case in Scripture. Singing was a natural response when the Almighty defeated the enemies of His people. Moses and the children of Israel sang after the Egyptian army was drowned in the sea, as did Miriam and the women (Exodus 15:1-21). Deborah and Barak sang when God defeated Jabin, king of Canaan, and his forces (Judges 5:1-31).
Singing was also the response of God’s children when He blessed them. The children of Israel sang when they arrived at the well in Beer where God had promised to give them water (Numbers 21:16-18). Those who returned from captivity sang when they began to restore the Temple (Ezra 3:11) and at the dedication of the rebuilt wall (Nehemiah 12:42).
Christians rejoice in Christ’s victory over death. “But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep” (1 Corinthians 15:20). His victory should be celebrated, especially since it assures that we, too, can overcome death (1 Thessalonians 4:14). Singing is somewhat natural when we experience victories. However, when we’re going through trials, it may be more difficult. Jesus sang a hymn with His disciples before going to the Garden of Gethsemane, with full knowledge that soon one of His chosen twelve would betray Him, and He would be arrested by the mob he led (Matthew 26:30).
God’s people sang during times of trial. Paul and Silas were seized, dragged into the marketplace, accused of wrongdoing and beaten with rods, creating “many stripes on them” (Acts 16:19-25). Rulers threw them into the inner prison and put their feet in stocks. What did they do? At midnight, they were praying and singing hymns to God.
As God showers rich blessings on us daily, let us sing songs of thankfulness. Whether we experience hardships or victories, may we offer songs of praise and gratitude. Further, let us not forget God’s masterful design for worship in the church, incorporating psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, using the instrument of the human voice that He created (Colossians 3:16).
It is interesting that scientists are now studying the benefits of group singing and have stunning results. What researchers are beginning to discover is that singing is like an infusion of the perfect tranquilizer, the kind that both soothes one’s nerves and elevates one’s spirits. Singing can produce satisfying and therapeutic sensations. God knew this fact long before science discovered it. Let us break forth in song, exhorting one another, instructing and admonishing each other, and praising our loving God! “Shout joyfully to the Lord, all the earth; Break forth in song, rejoice, and sing praises” (Psalm 69:30).