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Mary and Martha: Jesus' Hosts

(Luke 10:38-42; John 11:20-27,30-32)

Lesson 7 -- first quarter 2003
January 12, 2003

by Mark Roth
© Copyright 2002, Christian Light Publications

Do you have MS?

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a degenerative disease of the central nervous system. When something degenerates, is deteriorates or worsens. Your central nervous system is composed of your brain and spinal column. Those definitions alone underscore the serious state of those who contract MS. But that's not what my question is about.

Martha had a lot to do. In fact, she had a lot of good to do. Come to think of it, she had a lot of good to do for Jesus. She was busy, busy. I can only faintly imagine her homemakerly dither as she bustled about her doing, at the same time thinking and fretting about that which wasn't getting done. Sure, Jesus was a dear family friend and surely He was a fairly frequent visitor when He was in their area. It wasn't like she needed to have everything just so, like she would for a visitor who had never been there before or who hadn't been there in a long while. Still, He was the Master! He always deserved the best. Her best was what she desperately wanted to give Him. Of course it would have been nice be with Jesus, listening to His words of comfort, wisdom, and hope. But not now, not yet, not with so many other things to get done first. Martha suffered from a spiritual illness I'll call MS.

This Martha Syndrome (MS) is characterized in part by a gradual deadening of our spiritual sensitivity. Those who suffer from spiritual MS also experience a slow, almost difficult to detect, reversal of values. A person with this type of MS is very active, keeping himself busy with more than enough things to do. Often, this busy-ness is with important things, even things done for Jesus, His glory, and the blessing of others. Yet, like Martha, the individual with spiritual MS is far too busy and occupied to be with Jesus. So just like Martha, he lacks "that good part."

I know, because I see myself afflicted with a significant measure of Martha's distraction. I too have a lot to do for Jesus, but this lesson has reminded me of "that good part" -- being with Jesus and listening to Him.

Oh, by the way . . . what is your answer to my question?

What is necessary?

Did you notice that this makes two lessons in a row that have the expression one thing in them? When Jesus responded to the rich young ruler, He told him he lacked one thing: putting his discipleship to Jesus above everything else. When Jesus responded to Martha, He strongly implied that she also lacked one thing: putting Jesus above her service for Jesus. In those two one thing's I see some of my own need; I imagine you see some of yours also. Let's consider several more verses that use similar terminology to highlight what is truly necessary and essential.

"The LORD is the portion of mine inheritance and of my cup: thou maintainest my lot" (Psalm 16:5).

"One thing have I desired of the LORD, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to enquire in his temple" (Psalm 27:4).

"When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, LORD, will I seek" (Psalm 27:8).

"And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart" (Jeremiah 29:13).

"Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:13,14).

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