“”Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed…”— Luke 10:41-42
“As you listen to the conversations of the world, they are for the most part, conversations of the deaf.” —Paul Tournier
Everybody has something to say. Everyone wants to be heard.
The problem is, not everyone listens.
Jesus stopped one day in Bethany to visit two sisters, Mary and Martha. Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem, to die. Before the journey’s end, He would stop many more times to teach and minister, but here, with good friends, He stopped for rest and refreshment.
Martha celebrated His visit by offering the best her household could afford. She fussed about the kitchen, banging pots and pans, stoking the fires, dishing up food, pouring wine, determined to prepare Jesus the best meal He would ever eat.
While Martha scurried about, her sister Mary simply sat down at Jesus’ feet and listened to Him talk. Eventually, Martha stopped long enough to cry, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work myself? Tell her to help me!”
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
Jesus had a need: peace and quiet. With the cross before Him and turmoil brewing inside Him, He needed to draw strength from loving friends. Bethany was an oasis. Outside, crowds of people could gather with just one miracle from His hands. Martha’s home could be the calm before the coming storm — which is what Mary gave Him, and Martha, despite her good intentions, did not.
“One thing is needed,” Jesus said.
Mary tuned into the one thing Jesus needed and ultimately, what she needed as well.
With all our efforts and best of intentions, we can end up doing the right things but doing them our way. We like to do good our way, to be kind our way, to be Christian our way. But if our way isn’t the best way, we can feel offended and unappreciated.
Communion and fellowship require that we listen to others to hear what is being communicated, what is really needed.
Mary listened and understood that what Jesus wanted was for her— and her sister— to draw as near to Him as possible. Jesus encouraged Martha to slow her down, to interrupt her busyness, to realize, “Martha, Martha…only one thing is needed.”
How often do we miss that “one thing”?