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, 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, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
Good old Martha. She’d opened her home to Jesus and all his disciples and wanted to make them feel welcome. I expect we’ve all done that – invited someone round on the spur of the moment. It seemed like such a good idea at the time, but then we start to worry… is it clean and tidy enough, what will they think, have I got enough food in, what if they don’t eat… (whatever it was you’d planned to make)? Worry, worry, worry!
So, you bustle about, being so busy (and possibly the teeniest bit self-righteous?) preparing everything, while someone else is enjoying your guest’s company – but, oh how you resent it! That’s what you’d really like to be doing… sitting, chatting, and not feeling stressed and cross! Mary, on the other hand, saw Jesus for who he was. She found rest in his presence. She recognised that Jesus had something she needed so she sat and focussed on him and listened intently to every word he said. I wonder which of them made Jesus feel more welcome?
Jesus gave to all who came to him, yet the more he gave, the more he still had within him to give. He said he had come, not to be served, but to serve. Often, we feel we have to give of ourselves all the time, to serve, to be busy… yet Jesus was pleased with Mary for receiving FROM him and said that she had chosen what is better. The thing is, we can’t do anything of worth for long, without receiving from Jesus. He is our reason for being AND doing. Mary rested in Jesus’ presence, she took from him all that he was willing to give. How much more do we need to rest in Jesus today?
When he was scourged and crucified to death, a divine exchange took place. Jesus became as sin for us and we became the righteousness of God in him. All that was unholy in God’s eyes was punished in the body of Jesus and justice was met! We have no righteousness of our own, only that which we receive when we believe on Jesus. When we are saved, we often say we have given our lives to Jesus, but the reverse is actually true – he has given his life to us! That defining moment at Calvary, when Jesus said, “It is finished.” – it was! Court adjourned. We are now free of our orange jumpsuits and dressed in clean white robes!
I know we know all this, but…
The enemy’s strategy is to keep us busy. The last thing he wants is for us to sit at Jesus’ feet, gaze into his eyes and listen to his voice..! To KNOW that HE is already defeated because Jesus is victorious over every unholy thing in this world and the whole spiritual realm. He wants us to think we must always be doing and serving, because “that’s what Christians should do”!
And if you’re about to say, but faith without works is dead… you’re right! But they work together. And we cannot expect to do anything to serve the kingdom, without knowing first WHOM we are serving – the King! We must know who he is, what he stands for and what he requires of us.
Eph 2:8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.
Our service to the kingdom consists of the works prepared in advance for us to do, not to labour and strive in areas where we are not gifted or able, or be the one who never says no, which causes us to become exhausted and burnt out. We must rest in Jesus, sit at his feet as Mary did and receive from him, so we are equipped to do whatever HE asks of us, then our yoke will be easy and our burden light.
I love this version of psalm 23 from the Complete Jewish Bible, which really speaks to me…
ADONAI is my shepherd; I lack nothing. He has me lie down in grassy pastures, he leads me by quiet water, he restores my inner person. He guides me in right paths for the sake of his own name.
Even if I pass through death-dark ravines, I will fear no disaster; for you are with me;
your rod and staff reassure me. You prepare a table for me – even as my enemies watch;
you anoint my head with oil from an overflowing cup.
Goodness and grace will pursue me every day of my life;
and I will live in the house of ADONAI for years and years to come.
THIS is how to live life resting in the Lord!