Tuesday, September 8, 2020

Tuesday of Trinity 13

 One Word's Necessary

Luke 10:38-42 (ESV) Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” 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.”
Jesus makes a pit stop in the village where Mary and Martha live. The road-weary traveler visits the house of His dear friends so that He might bring them some Good News. The group sits down in the living room – a scene repeated millions of times in the history of hospitality. But the unique thing about this instance is the conversation. Jesus begins to preach His Word. This is no casual discussion of life on the road with the disciples. This is a sermon about the Son of Man, who came not to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many. Mary understands that Jesus is serving dinner, and she gladly receives the Bread of Life. As St. Augustine said, “She was eating the One she was listening to.”
Martha, on the other hand, has the wrong dish in mind. She has forgotten that “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Deut 8:3). Martha is a conscientious hostess, so it is second nature for her to worry about serving. She wants to put her best food forward.
But Mary doesn’t budge. She remains at the feet of the Lord, feasting on His Word. She won’t be ready to push away from the table until she is filled to the brim. She knows that the Word of Jesus feeds those who hunger for righteousness. In the meantime, Martha bangs around with pots and pans, occasionally peeking out to see if Mary is going to join her in the kitchen. Finally, Martha’s frustration comes to a head. Huffing and puffing, she marches up to Jesus and blurts out, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me alone to serve? Tell her to help me.” Then comes a moment of uncomfortable silence, while Martha waits expectantly for an answer in the affirmative.
“Martha, Martha, you are worried and in an uproar concerning many things, but One thing is needful. Mary has chosen the better portion, which will not be taken away from her.” With Jesus, we don’t always get the answer we expect – but we do get the answer we need. Jesus’ gentle rebuke proves to Martha that He does care about her. He knows what she needs better than she does. It is a matter of good, but mistaken intentions. Martha thinks that she has chosen the better course by preparing dinner. So Jesus corrects her in the hope that she might come to realize her error.
The Savior’s reply to Martha is not harsh, but it is firm. When the Word is present, the many worries of the kitchen must fade into the background. The One Thing Needful – Jesus – must stand in the foreground. Jesus is not opposed to serving meals – He serves one for us every week. But no matter how tasty Martha’s morsels might have been, they could not compare to the better portion that Mary chose, the Word of God. Mary knew that disciples of Jesus are called to be hearers of the Word and then doers. Followers first are to be served by Him, and only then can they serve others.
Jesus, the One Thing Needful, is the Abiding Word. Like Mary, blessed are you who hear the Word of God and keep Him (Lk 11:28). Like Mary, you may quietly feast on the Word of God, for the Son of Man comes not to be served, but to serve you with the Bread of Life through the Means of Grace.
Prayer (LSB 585: 1, 2, 6):
1. Lord Jesus Christ, with us abide,
For round us falls the eventide.
O let Your Word, that saving light,
Shine forth undimmed into the night.
2. In these last days of great distress
Grant us, dear Lord, true steadfastness
That we keep pure till life is spent
Your holy Word and Sacrament.
6. Stay with us, Lord, and keep us true;
Preserve our faith our whole life through—
Your Word alone our heart’s defense,
The Church’s glorious confidence. Amen.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.