But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:41-42 ESV
In raising two boys, my wife and I discovered that showing favoritism was the worst thing we could do. If one got a chocolate chip cookie a piece of pizza or an ice cream bar, then the other had to have the same or there was trouble. In the past when I read today’s passage I was puzzled because it seemed that Jesus was playing favorites. At first glance it seemed that He just liked Mary better. She was quiet and respectful while Martha was loud, pushy and just someone He tolerated. But nothing could be further from the truth. Jesus loved Mary and Martha both the same. Martha had a lot going for her. She was the one who had boldly invited Jesus to their house. She volunteered to feed not only Him but also His disciples. Jesus was in no way saying that Martha was a loser. Instead, He just pointed out that Mary had chosen what was better that day. So just what did Mary do?
First she began with the decision to put her full attention on Jesus. She watched as He came in their house and heard Him begin to teach and decided that no matter what anyone else thought, she wanted to hear what Jesus had to say. Maybe she had things she had been asked to do, but she laid aside her list of chores and sat quietly at the feet of Jesus. Then Mary followed up her choice by carefully listening to what He had to say. I confess that all too often I have come to my quiet time with a mind filled with things I need to do. Then I rush through my prayer and Bible reading so I can get to the “Important stuff.” But Mary decided that she didn’t have more important things to do later. She knew that Jesus would not be at her house for long and that while He was there she wanted to hear everything He had to say. When we pray, are we looking at our wrist watch, wondering about some activity to do later, or are we eagerly listening for what Jesus has to say today?
Last of all Mary decided to sit at Jesus feet no matter what other people thought. By sitting at His feet and putting her focus only on Jesus, she turned the focus of others on Him too. Martha never slowed down long enough to look at Jesus. In her frenzy of serving all Martha could see was that Mary was not helping. Martha had forgotten why she had invited Jesus in the first place. But Jesus still loved Martha and He tenderly corrected her, Martha – Martha was a phrase of endearment, not disdain. “Martha – Martha,” He is almost pleading; “open your eyes and see Me! I came to your house for you – not your food or your service, but for you! And Jesus is coming to your house and my house and a million million other homes today as well. He loves and cares for us even when we are weighed down with the worries of life and He still quietly points us to people like Mary in our life and says, “She has chosen that better part. It will not be taken away from her – but I want it for you too!”