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We make our beginning in the Name of God the Father and in the Name of God the Son and in the Name of God the Holy Spirit and all those who serve with their hands, hearts and heads said … AMEN!
Mary and Martha are always an interesting subject in the church. The tradeoff between serving the church, which is obviously, vitally necessary and what the church’s primary function is, making disciples. The great commandment Matthew 28:19 is very clear when Jesus tells His disciples: “ESV Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,”. We are to do two things as the church make disciples and baptize them. All people should be Christian disciples. The Greek word maqhth.j we are not “mandated” to serve, we are mandated to learn, to grow. It is huge when people do things to serve, that does a lot for the church, no question. But we are called to be maqhth.j there are ten references in the NT to being Jesus’ disciple. That a disciple is to learn, to grow and to serve. But to serve properly, one needs to know how to be a proper disciple. It’s being Jesus’ disciple, taking in what He wants you to know and not being rattled by the world and Satan: “Urban legend has it that in 1990 a woman entered a Haagen-Dazs in the Kansas City Plaza for an ice-cream cone. While she was ordering another customer entered the store. She placed her order, turned and found herself staring face to face with Paul Newman. His blue eyes made her knees buckle. She finished paying and quickly walked out of the store with her heart still pounding. Gaining her composure she suddenly realized she didn’t have her cone; she turned to go back in. At the door she met Paul Newman who was coming out. He said to her, “Are you looking for your ice-cream cone?” Unable to utter a word she nodded yes. “You put it in your purse with your change.”
When was the last time the presence of God made you forget what was going on around you? Made you forget the dishes, forget the ball game? Made you forget the bank account? Made you forget where…you put your ice cream cone?
It’s really not a “chicken-egg” thing. There are disciples, who have been brought up in, taught in, practiced in being disciples. To be proper disciples, it’s not enough to just learn, you will also be learning for a disciple, and you should be teaching others as a disciple. That is what it all means to be a disciple in the Greek word mathetes. John refers to “disciple” fifteen times in his Gospel. John’s is the “newest” gospel. Written about sixty years after Jesus’ crucifixion, no doubt John had a lot more time to reflect on the word “disciple”, and emphasize its importance in his Gospel.
Are Mary and Martha being disciples? Yes they are. However, what does the focus of being a disciple mean? Often we tend to project on to someone what we like, what we think they should have. Jesus has about a three year ministry. While we might think three years is a lot of time, think about how much Jesus wanted to convey to His disciples, and how short a time He had to do it. At this point Jesus is starting on the road to Jerusalem, His crucifixion. Three years is not enough. I’m sure you’ve had the same experience. There’s something you really want to pass on to people who are important to you, family, friends, associates, people you’ve grown up with. You think it’s important, but what’s the other person/people doing? Fussing around, trying to make you comfortable. I get it, they are trying to serve, but you really want them to know something, and you want their attention. This is important to you, you want it to be important to them, you want to share this with them. This might be something immediately important. We don’t know what Jesus, Lazarus and Mary are talking about, to be frank, if I’m sitting down with Jesus, I don’t care about anything else that’s going on. I’m going to be completely respectful to him. I am going to offer anything that I could think He might want, but if He’s talking I’m listening. I don’t think Martha was being respectful and I don’t think Jesus thought so either. Dinner’s important, and it’s nice of her to care for Jesus. But maybe Jesus is more concerned about what He wants to share with these three people who have come to be family for Him.
Many theologians make the case that one of the three men who visited Abraham was Jesus. What is called a “Christophany”, a pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus. Though nothing is spelled out, due to Abraham’s response to these men, and since they seem to know Abraham and his wife, something supernatural is going on here. This is the line of ancestry that precedes Jesus in His incarnation. Seems this would be set up by Jesus with Abraham right from the get go. What’s Abram doing with his guests? Running around getting them the best things that he can serve them, be the best host he can be. They did appear right in front of him, so this is something important. Should Abram be hospitable? Sure! But in this case, obviously these men had something very important to tell Abram, maybe they didn’t want a lot of fussing going on around them. Abraham is 99 years old, Sarah is about eighty. Ishmael has just been born, this makes him the heir to Abraham. This is no small thing. Abraham has become a rather successful man and has much to leave his family. All of a sudden these men show up, one of whom might be God the Son, the pre-incarnate Christ, to announce that now, Abraham will have a son.
Seems to me, that instead of Abraham waiting on the Lord, like Martha, both decided that they had to kind of make things happen on their own. That’s very nice, but, is that really about faith? Abraham, felt, apparently, he was serving God by impregnating Hagar and getting this heir thing jump-started. Right after the birth of Ishmael these men show up to announce what the plan is. God had already made His pact with Abram in chapter 15, in chapter 16 Abram decides to help God out with Hagar and their son Ishmael. Sarah is well past the age of child bearing, so obviously God needs some help here, some service to make this plan go. Jesus is sitting with dear friends and He wants them to wait upon Him by listening, and well, we need to make sure He has other things that He didn’t ask for. Is any of that trusting God and looking for His guidance? Seems there is an element of doubting by Martha and Sarah. That this is just not going to work unless I add my part. That’s not trusting God. When He asks should we provide, immediately? Absolutely. We should make sure that when we know God is pushing us on something that we jump through hoops. Often times we express our doubt because what He’s asking is not something we really want to do or like. We’d rather give Him our plan. Why? Because we doubt His plan and we’re sure that our plan is better than God’s.
David Leininger writes: a time management guru, a professor in the business school at Harvard, speaks about A, B, and C priorities, he notes too many people spend too much of their time on C priorities! He asks, “Why do you think that is?” The answer C priorities are, first, much easier to accomplish, and, second, give you the impression that you are actually getting something done. In other words you can keep busy with the C priorities all day and never get to the more important things. The lesson from Mary and Martha is “Don’t let the good (the C priorities) get in the way of the best (the A priorities). Sound like anyone you know?Jesus is our A priority, but too often we fuss with the Cs and we don’t trust doing the A’s. Sarah, didn’t trust and by not trusting didn’t serve, she decided that despite God’s promise, that she would have a son that she would “serve” by putting her desire aside and serve by jump starting the process with Hagar. We’re not here to undermine Jesus’ promises regardless of our “good” intentions as Martha and Sarah chose to do. We are called to be Mary, to continue to serve no doubt! But when the Lord is in our presence and giving His guidance, we need to put the other stuff aside and listen. Prayer, meditation, journaling, genuine worship, study Scripture, Jesus is always in our presence. When do we chose to take what He’s given us and wait for Him? We often doubt what He gives us, yet He still provides. Afterwards we realize how we weren’t paying attention and received what we did need. “Is anything too hard for the Lord?”
The peace of God which surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Shalom and Amin. Christ has risen! He has risen indeed Hallelujah