The message of our text is probably one of the clearest or easiest to understand. Often times, the message of scriptural passages is unclear to us. When we read a passage, we sometimes ask ourselves the question, what was it that I just read? But in the case of our text, no one should have to ask that question. The meaning is very clear.
The problem or difficulty we may have with our text is doing what Jesus says. That’s the most difficult part of the text. I think most of us fall into the category of Martha. To morph into a Mary would be a hard thing for us to do.
I wonder what Martha did after Jesus told her that Mary had done the right thing. Our text is silent on that point. Did Martha immediately stop what she was doing and join Mary at Jesus’ feet? Or, did she continue what she was doing, like most of us do? One thing we know for sure, though, is that she would longer be able to use the excuse "I didn’t know that it was more important to listen to Jesus than to be a busybody." Jesus made it very plain to her what was most important.
Jesus has made it clear to us what is most important: it’s listening to what He has to say. It’s avoiding all the noise in the world and listening to the sweet sound of the Gospel. In our text who was more at peace because she listened to the Gospel, Mary or Martha? It was Mary. Martha was all flustered trying to get lunch ready. It was obvious that she wasn’t happy. In frustration she told the Lord to have Mary come and help her and made it known that Mary wasn’t right sitting at the Lord’s feet. But the Lord pointed out to Martha that she wasn’t acting right. She should have been doing what Mary was doing. Had she been, she would have been at peace.
Maybe Martha was afraid of being at peace. That’s not as silly as it sounds. She was comfortable so to speak in her own little world where the law of the land was worry. Perhaps worrying was what she knew how to do best. Being at peace would have shaken her world. She wouldn’t have known how to act. She found herself much more comfortable in the environment of worrying, which was probably her default mode. Whenever she encountered something traumatic or stressful she reverted to worrying.
Maybe some of us can relate to Martha. Worrying is all we’ve ever done so trying something new like being at peace with the Lord and ourselves would be stressful. But Jesus offers us a better way. He offers us a way of peace. If more people were to adhere to Jesus’ advice there might be a lot less nervous breakdowns in our society. People would experience the peace of the Lord. People would have less stress in their lives and would be kinder to others instead of lashing out like Martha did when things didn’t go her way.
Being at peace with the Lord and ourselves will allow us to live richer lives. I’m not talking in a material sense. I’m talking in a spiritual sense which will translate into a calmer and happier physical life. Once we’re calmer and happier we can live more fulfilling lives as God’s children.
That’s what Mary experienced. She was at peace sitting at the Lord’s feet, not about to let the cares of this world disturb her. In our text we can see that she was the happier of the two. She had made the better choice.
We have a choice as well. We can choose God’s peace or continue to let our cares and worries get the best of us.
God knows how difficult life can be for us, and so He offers us peace in Him. All we have to do is turn to Him and put it all in His hands so that we can experience His peace. This is God’s way of helping us through life. I realize Christianity is about salvation in Jesus Christ and a future with God in His kingdom. But we may be on this earth for a little while yet. Don’t we want to be as happy and at peace as possible until the Lord calls us home? In our text Jesus is giving us some advice for peaceful living, and that is following what He has to say.
If we’re looking for practical advice from the Bible here it is. Often times I hear people say that God’s word isn’t practical. It has nothing for us today. Our text is a prime example of where that isn’t true. Jesus is giving us some advice that we can put into practice right now in this life. And our lives will be better if we do.
There is no need for us to look for peace and happiness anywhere else. It’s in Jesus. Mary found it sitting at Jesus’ feet listening to His words. We have God’s word among us. Every Sunday God speaks to us. Every time we open the Bible God speaks to us. All we need to do is listen. God’s peace which passes all our understanding will come upon us. Now isn’t that a better way to live? I certainly think so. I look at how miserable people are who don’t have the peace of Jesus reigning in their lives. Is that how we want to be when we don’t have to be?
Now I’m not saying that all our troubles and problems will go away once we have Jesus’ peace, but they will be much easier to deal with. A sense of calm will overcome us. We can be sure that our Lord is right next to us. We’re not alone in our struggles.
Now I’ve just explained to us the calming effect of God’s word. Are we going to let His word reign in our lives and enjoy His peace? I would certainly recommend us to imitate Mary’s example. She was certainly much more at peace than her sister. Mary’s way was the better way. How do we know that? Because Jesus said so. And if we truly believe in Jesus we will follow His advice for our own good.
Let me remind us of the peace we have knowing what will happen to us after we die. Jesus came into our world to die on a cross and rise from the dead to show us what will happen to us. That is reassuring, especially in our world where we don’t know what is going to happen from one minute to the next.
This is what Jesus hoped to convey to Martha, who was preoccupied with getting lunch ready. Jesus hoped she would understand that the promise and peace of eternal life was more important than fussing about lunch. Let’s not misunderstand Jesus. He wasn’t saying that lunch was unimportant. He knew very well people have to eat. But that’s not all there is to life. There is much more. That is what Jesus intended to convey to both Martha.
Well, the choice is ours today. We can go the route that Mary took, or we can go the route Martha took. Let me remind us that Jesus encourages us to go the route of Mary. Why? Because we would be much more at peace with ourselves and what happens to us in life.
Now if you don’t believe me, that’s your business. If you don’t want to enjoy life more by following our Lord’s advice and being at peace, that’s up to you. But I beg you not to make life miserable for others because you’re not at peace. Had the Lord not stepped in, Martha could have made Mary’s life unpleasant at that moment. "Get this, get that. Don’t do it this way. No, no, that’s wrong." Martha might have nagged Mary a bit. That could have gotten on Mary’s nerves. But the Lord intervened when He said, "Martha, Martha, you have many cares and worries. But only one thing is needful." He tried to bring peace into her life and prevent her from spoiling Mary’s happiness.
Let’s let the Lord’s peace into our lives. Our lives will be much better for it. Besides, there is so much we don’t have control over in this life. Why not surrender it to the Lord so we can get a good nights rest?
May the Holy Spirit help us apply the clear message of our text for today which is listen to the word of Jesus and let His peace into our lives instead of fussing over the cares and worries of this world.