Encounters With Jesus: Mary and Martha

Scripture: Luke 10:38-42

MARTHA: Mary. We need to talk.

MARY: OK, Martha, what about?

MARTHA: About tonight.

MARY: Can you believe Jesus was right here in our house?

MARTHA: I can. I made him dinner. And his disciples too.

MARY: You were an amazing host as always.

MARTHA: Right. As always. And where were you the whole time?

MARY: I was listening to him teach.

MARTHA: You were listening to him teach. While I cleaned and cooked and ran back and forth filling people’s drinks. I barely even got to eat myself.

MARY: I’m sorry, Martha, I just….really wanted to hear what he had to say. He tells the most beautiful stories about the Kingdom of God.

MARTHA: Maybe *I* wanted to hear.

MARY: You could have sat down.

MARTHA: Someone had to host.

[PAUSE]

MARTHA: The worst part was that when I pointed out to him that you weren’t helping, he said YOU had chosen the better part. Ha. Fine. Next time I won’t cook or clean at all. I hope he likes raw fish. And ants.

MARY: He said that? That I chose the better part?

MARTHA: Yeah.

MARY: No one in my life has ever told me I was better than you. You’ve always been the one who does everything you’re supposed to do and does it perfectly.

MARTHA: You’ve always been off in your own world, doing whatever you want, while I held everything together.

MARY: I wasn’t off in my own world tonight, Martha. I was listening and learning, just like his other disciples. Why should only the men get to do that? Besides, I thought you liked doing that stuff, cooking and hosting and all of that. I thought it was kind of your thing.

MARTHA: Not when no one even appreciates it.

MARY: Your whole life, Martha, everyone has always appreciated you. Martha, the good girl. Martha, the perfect one. It’s exhausting.

MARTHA: See how far that’s gotten me.

[PAUSE]

MARY: What did he actually say to you tonight?

MARTHA: He called me worried and distracted.

MARY: Are you?

MARTHA: Obviously.

MARY: What are you worried and distracted by?

MARTHA: I don’t know. Everything? Life? Whether we’ll have enough when the tax collectors come knocking? The unstoppable advance of death? Whether our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is going to get a hot meal?

MARY: (nodding)

MARTHA: (quietly) And I guess mostly I’m worried that I’m just never going to be enough.

MARY: For what? Or who?

MARTHA: I don’t even know.

MARY: I’m worried about those things too. But the thing is that when I listen to him teach, I’m not. It’s like he puts it all in perspective for me, like there’s something bigger than just my life. You should hear him talk about the lilies of the field, Martha, and the birds, they don’t worry about what may or may not happen tomorrow or whether they’re good enough. They’re just birds, and flowers, the way God made them to be. Why can’t we live like that too?

MARTHA: Well, maybe I could have sat and listened –

MARY: I know, I know. You were making dinner.

MARTHA: I just don’t get it. I tried so hard to make everything perfect for him. I was so excited to have him over and make a wonderful meal. We don’t have a lot, Mary, you know that, but I really put everything I had into tonight. I just wanted it be perfect. And it was like he didn’t appreciate it at all.

MARY: Maybe it didn’t need to be so perfect.

MARTHA: This is how I show love.

MARY: By serving others to the point of resentment?

MARTHA: …Yes.

MARY: Is it about love, or about proving yourself?

MARTHA: I don’t know.

MARY: Do you think he would have loved you less if the fish had burned?

MARTHA: At this point I’m starting to think he would have loved me more.

MARY: So next time just sit.

MARTHA: I’m not going to be you, Mary.

MARY: Why, because I would have burned the fish?

MARTHA: I don’t want to just sit. That’s not who I am. I’m a doer. I do things. I just want to be appreciated for that.

MARY: Well, I’m not going to be you either.

MARTHA: Well, I guess we’ll both be ourselves and Jesus is going to have to be OK with that.

MARY: Maybe he didn’t really mean that I had chosen better than you. Maybe he didn’t mean that you had to be like me. Maybe he just wanted you to take a deep breath and know that you’re enough. You don’t have to be running all the time and trying to make everything perfect. And maybe I don’t have to do all the things that everyone expects of me. Maybe I can do my own thing, just leave it all behind and go with him. And you can do your own thing too, in your way. Just – because you want to, and not because you think you have to earn or prove something.  

MARTHA: Yeah. Maybe.

MARY: It’s like when he said that he came so that we could have life and have it abundantly.

MARTHA: No one’s ever cared whether MY life was abundant before.

MARY: Well, he does. And I do.

MARTHA: I don’t think I know how to live that way.

MARY: Me neither. But I’m learning. Or at least I’m trying to.

[PAUSE]

MARY: Come on, Martha, I’ll help you wash the dishes.

MARTHA: OK. And while we do that maybe you can tell me some of those stories about the Kingdom of God.

MARY: (smiling) The Kingdom of God is like a woman who prepared a feast for visitors.

MARTHA: (smiling) The Kingdom of God is like a woman who abandoned all her duties to sit at her teacher’s feet.

MARY: The Kingdom of God is like two women –

MARTHA: Who set down all their worries and distractions –

MARY: And picked up love.

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