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Serving? Or Served?

by | Jul 19, 2022 | Servitude

“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.'”

(Luke 10:38-42 ESV)

I have mixed feelings about this story. I can totally understand where Martha is coming from—most women are very well trained when it comes to taking care of guests, and we feel guilty if we aren’t constantly giving them the most comfortable chair, the finest food, the best wine in the house. And of course all of this takes time and hard work, and we get tired. And then we get snappish. Why must we carry the burden alone?

So I’m not surprised when Martha gets angry with her sister. It’s rather shocking that she drags Jesus into it, but I’m guessing that she’s beyond tired at this point. And Jesus sees that, and is gentle with her.

But even so, He’s not going to hide the truth. Mary isn’t wasting time, as Martha supposes. Mary is doing exactly what Jesus would like Martha to do as well—would like all of us to do. She is spending time with Him. She is sitting at His feet, listening and learning. She is allowing Jesus to serve her.

How shocking! And yet, this is the reason why Jesus came into the world—to serve, not to be served, to lay down His life as a ransom for many. He came to be our Healer, our Good Shepherd, our Savior. He even gives us His own body and blood to eat and drink in Communion. No wonder one of His titles is “Servant”!

I don’t know what Martha did after Jesus spoke. I rather hope she put down the dishtowel, brought in a plate of grapes and some bread, and joined her sister and Jesus. The place at His feet belongs to Mary and to Martha—and to us, the people Jesus loves and has redeemed.

WE PRAY: Dear Savior, help me to stop and sit down and let You love and serve me, as You choose to do. Amen.

This Daily Devotion was written by Dr. Kari Vo.
Originally published in The Lutheran Hour on July 14, 2022
Used by permission from International Lutheran Laymen’s League, all rights reserved

Reflection Questions:
1. When guests come to visit, what are your usual responsibilities?
2. Do you find it easy or hard to simply sit down with them and spend time together?
3. If Jesus came to your house today, what would you do?