What is the only one thing needed? Was Jesus saying Martha was cooking too many dishes and only one casserole was needed? Of course not! The one thing Jesus seeks above all else is time with you, time when you sit at his feet. ‘Martha, Martha, I am way more interested in our spending time together than anything else you can do for me. That’s the one thing needed by you and the one thing I need.’ That one thing will stop our bowing to society or bowing to anything else.

THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO LUKE CHAPTER 10

Martha Only One Thing is Needed – Luke 10:38-42

By Delbert Young

Martha Only One Thing is Needed - video audio notes

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Martha Only One Thing is Needed – Luke 10:38-42

Scriptures: Luke 10:38-39; Luke 10:39-40; Luke 10:40; Luke 10:41; Matthew 6:33; Luke 10:42

Do you ever feel you are simply too busy? It seems things are pulling you in different directions. There’s too much on your plate. Instead of enjoying life, things are controlling you. You know you’re missing what’s really important, but what can you do? We promise ourselves we’ll slow down and focus on what is truly important, but never do. Why is this? Why is it like this on everyone we know? Today’s lesson is about this thought.

Luke 10:38-39 As Jesus and his disciples were ON THEIR WAY, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary…

The village was Bethany (Joh 11:1). Jesus arrived in Judea on their way to Jerusalem where Jesus would be executed. This Mary is not to be confused with Mary the mother of Jesus or Mary Magdalene. They also had a brother named Lazarus not mentioned in this story. It’s very possible Lazarus, Martha, and Mary knew Jesus from the very beginning of his ministry for Bethany was the place John the Baptist baptized, so likely where Jesus was baptized by John (Joh 1:28). Martha opened her home to him. Martha’s younger sister, Mary, lived with her.

Some of my fondest memories of ministry were times people opened their homes to me when we were beginning the ministry. We would sit eating good food and talk into early morning hours about the things of God similar to what we read here. Sharing in a home is a great place to teach and learn the things of God and to develop long term relationships. This is a major reason we provide Life Groups in homes for all of you.

Luke 10:39-40 She had a sister called Mary who SAT AT THE LORD’S FEET listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

Martha was busy with the preparations for the arrangements and meal, but how do you cook for God? Maybe she’d cook some “soul food.” Jesus would enjoy soul food. She’d make some cornbread, sliced onions and tomatoes, fried chicken, black eyed peas, collard greens, busy, busy. Maybe she’d thought about “Deviled Eggs,” but decided “Deviled Eggs” would offend Jesus. They would have “Angel Food Cake” and “Heavenly Delight” for desert and for later, she would make some “Divinity.” Martha looked around and found no Mary. This was for the Lord. Martha thought Mary would help make it perfect. Where was Mary?

We know how we get when someone should be helping, but isn’t. We become aggravated and angry. This is what Martha experienced and she had no problem expressing her aggravation. She found Mary sitting at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.

What’s wrong with this picture other than Mary wasn’t helping? Mary wasn’t supposed to be in there with the men. Mary was supposed to be in the kitchen where a woman belongs, cooking for the men (kidding). Mary is out of her place. A woman’s place is in the kitchen, right?

When it says “Mary who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said,” it’s not an attempt to describe her posture at the moment. She wasn’t sitting on the floor looking adoringly up at Jesus in awe. The phrase “sat at the feet of” is a term associated with a person taking on the role of a disciple. The apostle Paul used this exact phrase speaking of himself when a disciple.

Acts 22:3 I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city AT THE FEET OF GAMALIEL, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers…

Our passage is saying that Mary took a place as an equal among the men. Amazingly Jesus encouraged this! In that culture this was radical and unheard of. Women were discouraged, even forbidden, from learning. The Mishnah says this: “May the words of the Torah be burned, they should not be handed over to women.”  They would burn the Torah before allowing a woman to learn it.

Jesus took an opposite stance toward women and women’s rights, society’s prejudices, and society as a whole. We studied Luke 8:1-3 seeing women not only traveled with Jesus, but were major supporters. I get amazed today at the prejudices of some preachers concerning women. We recently studied the Good Samaritan dealing with society’s prejudice of the hated Samaritan.

In Martha’s house, Jesus taught about the kingdom. Listening were local dignitaries, the disciples, and Mary – the only woman. This is the essence of this story. Mary, in the face of not only her sister’s, but society’s objection and wrath, desired to become a disciple of Christ.

Society has always told us what we do and how we think. We are so busy today because society tells us to be. Society are those “out there” including the media etc., but it’s also family, wives, husbands, fellow employees, employers, children, even a sister. I was amazed in our last presidential election the affect society had on people. Our amazing nation has left the foundational principles we learned sitting at the feet of Jesus and gone the way of the wicked (Psa 146:9). Overhearing a conversation, I heard someone say, “He has Christian principles. Tell me one way he doesn’t.” I was surprised the person couldn’t adequately respond. I didn’t comment for a while, but eventually I couldn’t keep it in. I asked, “Can I comment? (1) Abortion is not godly or of God. (2) The Bible says owe no man anything but to love him and our nation owes $16 trillion and the dept is going up every minute. (3) I don’t care about a person’s sexual preference. If a man wants to live with a man or a woman with a woman, I don’t care. It’s perverted and a reprobate mind according to Romans chapter one, but that’s their call, but don’t make it a law and call it marriage. They can’t join together and reproduce. (I went on.)” The conversation ended.

Someone once said I needed to watch a specific sitcom so, “He will understand what’s out there.” I don’t want to “understand what’s out there.” I don’t want society to force me to reason. I could go on, but I think you get my point. Society tells us these issues are acceptable and we find ourselves reasoning with them. There is no reasoning with them when you sit at the feet of Jesus. Sitting at the feet of Jesus is usually total opposite of reason and society.

Do you realize the majority of why we are so busy, why so in debt, why families are so dysfunctional, why we are so stressed and ill, etc.? It is because society tells us to be. I talk to people every week telling them how I missed them at church. Do you realize what the primary response I hear is? Of course you do. “I had to…” We are so busy doing what society tells us we have to do we miss keeping ourselves out of debt, our families functioning, our bodies healthy, etc. We, like Martha, can get aggravated about it and blame God, but we know where the problem is.

So, how do you handle it? Which do you do? Are you busy, busy with what society says you should do, or will you face its wrath and sit at Jesus’ feet?

Luke 10:40 BUT MARTHA WAS DISTRACTED BY all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that MY sister has left ME to do the work by MYSELF? Tell her to help ME!”

We see a second problem. About whom was Martha actually concerned? Herself! Society told her she should be. Society presents us with distractions, but spending time with Jesus comes back to “My,” “Me,” and “Myself.”

The word distracted is perispao {per-ee-spah’-o} – to draw around, to draw away, distract; to be driven about mentally; to be over-occupied, too busy. Does that ring a bell with anyone? What distracts you from Jesus? I guarantee you it is something concerning what society tells you to do. I walked into our house the other day as Judy watched Joyce Meyer who said, “Never plan Jesus into your schedule. Plan your schedule around Jesus.” If we plan Jesus into our schedule something will inevitably draw us away. What draws you away, drives you about, over-occupies causing you to be too busy for Jesus? Martha was distracted doing what society said. Mary refused to bow to society.

Luke 10:41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “You are worried and upset about many things, but ONLY ONE THING IS NEEDED.

What is the only one thing needed? Was Jesus saying Martha was cooking too many dishes and only one casserole was needed? Of course not! The one thing Jesus seeks above all else is time with you, time when you sit at his feet. “Martha, Martha, I am way more interested in our spending time together than anything else you can do for me. That’s the one thing needed by you and the one thing I need.” That one thing stop our bowing to society or bowing to anything else.

I hear Jesus’ words as a calming response to Martha from the Lord. He tells her exactly why she was angered and why she responded rudely. “You are worried and upset about many things.” When we are worried and upset it’s usually because society’s convinced us to put too many things on our plate. We become anxious, stressed, and easily angered. We lose our joy and peace. We even yell at God. We need to learn many of the issues upsetting us relate to society dictating what we do and don’t do.

Jesus corrected Martha and affirmed Mary. Jesus didn’t rebuke Martha for being busy. He adjusted Martha’s perspective and priorities. Jesus wants us productive, but, as far as we know, Martha had to finish everything alone missing her important time with Jesus. Busy is not wrong as long as Jesus is first.

The point is Jesus allows nothing and suggests nothing come before, or interrupt, spending time with him and receiving his teachings. He placed a person’s decision to spend time with him and learn about the kingdom of God higher than any other human responsibility. THAT’S THE ONE THING NEEDED.

Matthew 6:33 But SEEK FIRST HIS KINGDOM and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

“Chasing the right thing takes care of everything.”  I heard this statement when on vacation. My son, Lance, is Executive Pastor at a church where we were vacationing. He told us, “When we get out of church, we will come to your condo and see you and mom.” I said, “No. I want to go to church with you.” He said, “That’s all day with four services.” I told him, “That’s fine.” Now, I’m not saying I go to church every Sunday when on vacation. My point is I try desperately not to allow society or the “my, me, myself” distract me from the one thing.

God will make certain you acquire all things. There may be things you want to do rather than seek the kingdom, but I promise, God will add the things we need.

Luke 10:42 MARY HAS CHOSEN what is better, and IT WILL NOT BE TAKEN AWAY FROM HER.”

It’s a matter of choice. “Mary has chosen what is better.” We choose to allow society to tell us what to think and do taking us away for spending time with Jesus. We allow our selfishness to take us away from spending time with Jesus. We all have the same amount of time in a day. Mary didn’t have 28 hours and Martha only 24 hours. I choose what I do with my 24 hours just as you choose what you do with your 24. Fact is we don’t choose wisely and what is better. What do you choose?

Mary was chasing the right thing. What are you chasing? What Mary was chasing would not be taken from her. The inference is if we are not chasing the right thing, what we are chasing could be taken from us. Spending time with Jesus listening to what he says supersedes serving God. Service is necessary. Opening our home to Jesus is great, but the one thing Jesus wants is to spend time with us. He desires we sit at his feet and listen above anything else we can do in life.

Other Related Sermons:

You and the Tomb – Easter sermon

I SEE GRACE pt 2 – Easter sermon video audio notes

The Resurrection Proofed – Easter sermon video audio notes

Also see:

Sermons Change The World

Life Gate Church sermons by Delbert Young

jSota, 10a, 8, quoted in Albrecht Oepke, gune, TDNT 1:781-784

Marty Martin, Northstar Church, Panama City, Fl