As they continued their journey, Jesus came to a village and a woman called Martha welcomed him to her house. She had a sister by the name of Mary who settled down at the Lord’s feet and was listening to what he said. But Martha was very worried about her elaborate preparations and she burst in, saying, “Lord, don’t you mind that my sister has left me to do everything by myself? Tell her to get up and help me!” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, my dear, you are worried and bothered about providing so many things. Only a few things are really needed, perhaps only one. Mary has chosen the best part and you must not tear it away from her!” Luke 10:38-42, JB Phillips
Just a quick observation. A detailed explanation of this famed account isn’t necessary, but I feel I cannot leave this aspect alone.
Mary, the heroine of the story, has no lines. She is quietly postured in the background, even though it is her activity that is favored. Martha is the one who takes center stage, forcing conversation in the room, crashing into the reverie, feeling it necessary to make the situation about her.
But why? What profile may we extract from Martha’s mentions in the New Testament? Of the two, here she is fixed on a temporal activity, making it everything. Later, she will be loyal to a doctrine, believing what was generally accepted among the population of the first century, including the theologians known as Pharisees: there will be a resurrection of the dead. Later.
“Your brother will rise again,” Jesus replied to her. “I know,” said Martha, “that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” (John 11:23,24) JB Phillips
The answer to her hopes–Resurrection Himself–was not only in the next room, as before, but was now in her personal space, inviting her to let go of not only her preoccupations but preferences as well. While Martha preferred everything safe, predictable and normal, Jesus–who loved her still–was wanting her to experience Him in the NOW. Not later.
The dinner can wait.
Death can wait. Resurrection can’t.
Martha, your sister has cast her lot for now. You are thinking there’s time for her activity later. You think your ‘now’ things should take precedence…
–NOW we have to prepare this dinner.
–NOW we have to prepare for a funeral.
But I am telling you not to miss Me in the Now.
I have power to show you, my sister. You won’t believe what being with Me in the now will do. Let go of your plans and put Me in your appointment book. Instead of a dinner, I’ll prepare a banquet, and instead of a funeral, why, there’ll be a coming out party!
I just read about a guy who has been diagnosed with cancer—again—and he is giving up radiation treatment during Lent. He is foregoing the common protocol because he expects God to do something greater. That’s his now.
Don’t put it off until later. Drop the colander and breathe Him in…or, do it while you bustle about the kitchen. Don’t put off believing for that resurrection you seek. He’s right there. You might just get a Lazarus thrown in.
This post was inspired by this line from Frances J. Roberts’ Dialogues With God: “Do we know Thee as the Shunamite who cried “It is well” in the face of death and soon after took her child up alive? – Or are we instead like Martha, content to await the final day of resurrection?”