The following is an edited version of a sermon prepared and presented to Hickory United Church, The sermon was cut into two parts for easier reading.
Think of a time where you got so wrapped up in the work and preparation for something that when the time came for the event all your focus was on the work and in working, you missed out on the event itself. Or, maybe think of a time when something really good was happening, but in the midst of the good thing happening, all you did was worry and fret and that worrying and fretting kept you from truly enjoying the good thing that was happening.
Can you remember a time such as that? I can. Actually, I can think of about a dozen.
But this week, we looked at a story, that I think serves to remind us of what it’s like when we find ourselves in the middle of these difficult feelings and fears.
In the midst of what’s happening,
“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.”
Luke 10:38-42 NIV
Let’s talk about what we see happening here.
Jesus and his disciples are on the move. Travel itinerary is a little sketchy. All we know from these verses is that they are going from one place to the next. And as they travel, someone has offered them a place to stop and rest. Martha.
Martha lives in this village. She has a house. And, she has a sister, Mary. We don’t know the details of the invite, was it a long standing invite, one of those, if you’re ever in the area, stop by, kinda invites. Or as was the custom, open hospitality was often offered to travelers, and so perhaps as Jesus was passing through, Martha grabbed one of the disciples and said, hey, you all have been traveling, come on over and stay with us for a while.
However it went down, this moment brought with it a significant amount of work. Entertaining someone in Jesus day was quite a bit different then it is today.
We have been on both sides of hospitality. When friends unexpectedly stop to visit, generally we can walk over to the pantry and refrigerator and offer some kind of substance. And if we can’t, sandwiches or pizza is just a short drive away.
But there was no Subway you pass on your way home from church. No dollar general you run into for some prepackaged snacks. No, you had to run to the marketplace. You had to stop by the butcher. You had to involve yourself with hours of prep work.
And, it’s this prep work that gets Martha. Verse 40. "But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made."
Do you know I had nightmares leading into our week of VBS?
And then, there’s all the coordinating and the behind the scenes details that need to be addressed as the week moves forward. It’s a lot of work and I am so grateful I had a team to help make sure everything got done.
And, here’s Martha, working to make this visit happen.
But, maybe we’re thinking, work is good. It’s okay to productively busy. And besides, I like entertaining people. I like organizing events. I like staying active and feeling like I am contributing.
Yes, work is a good thing.
But this isn’t about work. This is about the distractions that we allow into our lives that take us away from what God is trying to do in our midst. Look again at verse 40. It doesn’t say, Martha, was busy in the kitchen serving as a good hostess. She was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She allowed the To Do List to To Do Her!
Even more, she put such a high priority on what had to be done, that she complained because she had all this work to do and no one was helping her, especially her sister, Mary! So she complains to Jesus.
This is about the distractions that we allow into our lives that take us away from what God is trying to do in our midst.
Jesus has been invited into your life, I mean home. And when he arrives, you busy your time with the distractions and miss the very fact that he’s sitting right here. Mary, recognized that what mattered most wasn’t that the house was perfect or the food was stupendous, or drinks were chilled, or the decor was just right. No, she saw Jesus, and she wanted to be with him.
And isn’t this true of us? Don’t we invited Jesus into our lives, and instead of just sitting down to visit with him, we run around busying ourselves trying to tidy up the mess in our lives, or fix the brokenness of our mistakes when all we really need to do is to stop and let Jesus be Jesus.
Martha complains to Jesus. But look at what Jesus says to Martha, in verses 41-42. “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.”
All week long to help the kids remember our Bible Point of the day, we had the kids shout out, Jesus Rescues!
- When we are lonely…Jesus Rescues!
- When we worry…Jesus Rescues!
- When we struggle…Jesus Rescues!
- When we do wrong…Jesus Rescues!
- When we feel powerless…Jesus Rescues!
It’s fun. And the kids get crazy loud. But I think as adults we sometimes think, it’s just not that simple. You don’t know all the things going on in my life. You don’t know all the things I’ve done over the years. You don’t know the struggles that I am dealing with. It might be okay for the kids to shout that out, but me…?
The thing is, Jesus does rescue. And Jesus will rescue!
So, let me ask you, what are the distractions in your life? How are you busying yourself? Why are you busying yourself? What fears keep you from being where you need to be? What’s keeping you from sitting at Jesus’ feet?
Jesus rescues. And, he wants to rescue you.
But do you know what the victim
needs to do in this situation?
I worked as a lifeguard for a number of years. As lifeguard in training, we learned to do is how to safely rescue someone. We’re taught that when the victim is scared and flailing around, how to safely approach and help them. We’re trained in how to get them safely to shore or the side of the pool. But do you know what the victim needs to do in this situation?
Nothing. Nothing. They just need to want to be rescued. It's the rescuer who does all the work. And praise God, that Jesus did all the work. All we need to say is, Rescue me.
Jay Higham is a veteran youth worker of over 25 years; having worked with students in the local church and Christian camping settings. Jay is currently serving as the student ministry director at a church, located in Western PA. Jay has been married to Amy for over 21 years. Together, they are raising 5 kids, (4 boys and 1 girl). Jay is an aspiring author, blogger, speaker, vlogger, and social media junkie. He is passionate about student ministry, family ministry, and training youth workers to love and serve their students with passion and excellence.