The text for this lesson is Luke 10:38–42.
- The one truly necessary thing for happiness that endures for eternity is the Word of God.
- Law:Cares of this world, which may be good of themselves, may lead to anxiety, despair, and unbelief when they crowd out hearing and believing the Word of God.
- Gospel: The Word of God grants eternal peace and happiness and protects us from turning the cares of this world into anxiety and despair.
- Jesus continues His journey to Jerusalem and stays with His friends Mary and Martha on the way. From John’s Gospel (ch. 11–12), we know that Mary and Martha are sisters of Lazarus, whom Jesus raised from the dead. The siblings were close friends of Jesus and lived in the town of Bethany, a few miles east of Jerusalem. Jesus began His triumphal entry into Jerusalem from Bethany, where He stayed during Holy Week. The Mount of Olives is also near Bethany (Mark 11:1–12).
- It is significant to notice that this account immediately follows the parable of the Good Samaritan. In this parable, Jesus teaches that fulfilling God’s will means acting compassionately to all people in every circumstance. In the commentary, we’ll consider how this event offers further insight into the parable.
- As Martha and Mary welcome Jesus into their house, each exemplifies a good way to receive the Lord. Martha busies herself with “much serving” (Luke 10:40), which probably focused on feeding a large group of people, such as the disciples who accompanied Jesus, and perhaps mutual friends who lived in the village. Such preparations may have been even greater than our preparations for a large holiday, for it likely would have meant preparing the meal from scratch, including the slaughter and preparation of an animal. Apparently, Mary is not the only one neglecting to help Martha; it appears that no one else has stepped in to help either, as Martha complains of serving “alone.”
- Such service—to provide for the temporal needs of others—is good. Various New Testament passages commend hospitality and caring for the temporal needs of others, especially fellow Christians (e.g., Hebrews 13:2; Romans 12:13; Galatians 6:10). Such hospitable and caring practices are fundamental ways of fulfilling the law of love (Romans 12; Galatians 5:14). Martha’s deeds are implicitly connected to the parable of the Good Samaritan, related just prior to this passage. Just as the Samaritan provided for the physical needs of the victim, so Martha provides for the physical needs of Jesus and the disciples. Indeed, Jesus had commanded to do as the Good Samaritan had done.
- Yet, here He points out an even greater good: hearing and treasuring the Word of God. Mary sits at Jesus’ feet, the posture of a student, taking in everything Jesus says. This is more than just intellectual study. This is spiritual affection for God, incarnate in Jesus, and all that He does and says. This is faith: to receive and to treasure the words and acts of Jesus.
- Here we see it is Jesus who best exemplifies the Good Samaritan. It is Jesus who provides His Word to forgive sins, binds up the sinner, and restores to eternal life. We, too, should care for others, showing Christian love. Yet, ultimately, the one, absolutely necessary thing is to receive love from Jesus: to receive His care, His Word, His “good portion” for our everlasting life (10:42).