Martha and Mary


The more I dig into the simple story of Martha and Mary the more I see.

Becky called attention to the difference between the two sisters.  Martha was a doer.  Mary was a dreamer.

An older woman in the Sunday morning bible class remembered how she was the one at home to get the work done when growing up.  Her sister spent much her time playing the piano, she became a good pianist.

Martha was the outgoing one, Mary was the quiet one.

Martha ran the household. It was her house.  She strove to be the perfect hostess, which would be expected; greeting Jesus with a double kiss on the cheeks, offering water for Jesus to wash his feet; giving him some olive oil to moisten his skin after a day in the hot and drying sun.  However, in her preparations she became overwrought with the burden of everything that needed to be done.  Someone in the Bible class suggested she should have asked a few of her friends to help. However, she was a good Lutheran who could handle it by herself. No help needed.

This story followed immediately after Jesus tells the Lawyer to “Go and do likewise” emulating the Samaritan in his parable. Yet going and doing may become overwhelming.  This story emphasizes sitting and not doing, but listening.  Thus Mary had chosen the best part.

Jesus had been out among the villages proclaiming the kingdom of God.  He had sent out seventy or seventy of his followers on a mission trip.  They carried on his ministry.  As they returned he told them that whoever heard you was hearing me and was also hearing the Father.  The key to the kingdom was someone going and doing which resulted in others sitting and listening.

The story of Martha and Mary is left open ended as is Jesus encounter with the Lawyer.  Will the Lawyer listen to Jesus and go and do likewise?  Will Martha sit down and allow herself to be calmed by Jesus’ teaching?  Will Mary suggest to Jesus that she needs to go help her sister?

Open ended stories always give us a chance to finish the story in our own life.  How will we respond?


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