Recently we were driving somewhere and our son said he had a question for us. I turned down the radio and asked what it was. He asked, “Which are y’all: Mary or Martha?” I laughed that such a question would come from a 9 year old. His question is in reference to Luke 10 where Martha is busy serving Jesus while Mary just sits at His feet listening. My wife responded, “Sorry, son. You were born into a family of Martha’s!” He asked if that was a bad thing. I explained that it wasn’t because we need both Mary’s and Martha’s. The Martha’s of the world simply need to learn to not be so anxious when things don’t get done perfectly and they also need to take time to sit at the feet of Jesus and recharge. Both types are important to the Church.
We see Martha and Mary two more times in Scripture. The next time we see them is in John 11 after their brother Lazarus had died. When Jesus showed up four days later, it was Martha who ran out to meet Jesus while Mary stayed in the house. Martha expressed that if Jesus had been there, her brother wouldn’t have died. She also expressed that He was the Messiah and could raise him up. After their conversation she went to get Mary to take her to Jesus. Mary expressed the same things. It was the other people who doubted and accused when they implied that Jesus gave sight to the blind, but couldn’t keep Lazarus from dying. After that, we read that Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead.
The last time we meet them is in John 12, about two months later, just before Jesus is crucified. Martha was back to serving everyone while Lazarus ate. Verse 3 says, “Then Mary took a whole pint of a very expensive perfume made of pure nard, poured it on Jesus’ feet, and wiped them with her hair. The sweet smell of the perfume filled the whole house” (GNT). Immediately Judas saw this as a waste of money and criticized her act of worship. In these stories, there are three types of people: one who worships with service, one who worships at His feet and those who criticize. I’ll ask my son’s question to you. Which are you? It’s all right to be a Martha as long as you’re not so busy you miss hearing Jesus. It’s all right being a Mary as long as you share what you learn at the feet of Jesus. It’s not ok to stand back from afar and criticize the way other people worship while never drawing near yourself. Each of us must worship in our own extravagant way and take time to hear what Jesus is saying to us.