“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.” Luke 10:41-42
There Mary was. Sitting at the Master’s feet. Listening. All men. And Mary. While her sister Martha slaved over steaming lentils in the kitchen.
What was Mary thinking? She was acting contrary to tradition. In Jesus’ day houses were separated into compartments. Men occupied the public room and women occupied the cooking area.
Mary crossed the line. She breached two social boundaries. First she sat in the men’s place. Second, she took the posture of a disciple. In those days rabbis had only male disciples. His disciples probably grumbled. Curled a brow. Elbowed a companion.
This was the same upstart girl who shunned scorn and ridicule when she barged into a Pharisee’s house and poured oil on Jesus’ feet, then wiped them with her hair. Now, in her home, she dared sit at the feet of Jesus.
Martha thought it was unfair that Mary left her in the kitchen.
How did Jesus respond? “Martha, Martha. You’re so busy serving me to earn my approval and please me that you miss what being in my presence is about. It’s more about being with me than doing for me. You do your best for me AFTER you’ve been with me, BECAUSE you’ve been with me. Mary is doing the right thing. And what she has done will not be taken from her.”
Contrary to her sister, contrary to Jewish customs, contrary to her social role, Mary was determined to listen to the One who rescued her from her life of sin. To Mary, being in the presence of Jesus was the most important thing.
How about us? How important is listening to Jesus? Sitting quietly in His presence? Just listening? As we encounter the world today will others sense that we’ve been sitting at the feet of Jesus? Or will they think we’ve been stewing over a pot of vegetables in the kitchen?