She was just being Martha. She was just doing what she was good at, what she was gifted to do. She was just preparing the food that the group of hungry travelers needed. She was just fulfilling her responsibilities as the head of her house. But she was also distracted, worried, bothered, disturbed.
Her sister on the other hand was just being Mary. She was just listening to Jesus, considering what He was saying. She was just sitting at His feet as a student before a teacher. She was just beholding His beauty, meditating on His words, heeding the call of God in her Savior.
And that is what got Martha's goat. "Lord, please tell her to help me!"
Martha was a doer. Mary was a thinker. Martha made to do lists and goals and plans. Mary went with the flow of life. Two polar opposites perhaps. Two distinct personalities.
"Martha, Martha. Mary has chosen the one thing that will never pass away, the one good thing."
So was Jesus telling Martha to quit being Martha? Was He saying she needed to be a Mary instead?
Later, when Jesus makes another visit to their home after Lazarus had died and been buried for four days, who is it that runs out to Jesus acknowledging that He was the Christ, the Son of God, the One who could make anything happen by asking His Father? It was Martha. And where was Mary? Still sitting in the house. It was Martha who called her sister to come see Jesus. Martha was doing. Mary was sitting.
Again, Jesus comes to Martha and Mary's home town and is served a meal by none other than... Martha. And His feet are anointed with costly perfume by...Mary. Martha was doing. Mary was sitting.
Jesus' reply to His friend, Martha, draws her attention as well as mine to what really matters: seeking Him. Jesus didn't tell her to stop doing or stop being Martha. He wanted her (and me) to seek Him first and THEN be Martha. Maybe she had gone over board in her preparations. Maybe not. But it is a given that her attitude was in need of an adjustment.
I see that Martha didn't stop being Martha. But she did seem to learn to chose that one thing that doesn't pass away, the one good thing that is necessary. She learned from the merciful rebuke of the Savior and the example of her sister. Seek Jesus first.
It's okay to be a doer. It's okay to be the thinker. Who we are is designed by God and makes us perfectly suited to fulfill the ministry He has for each of us. As for me? Well, I am no list maker, goal oriented, can't sit down until everything is done Martha. I can identify better with Mary's tendency to sit and be laid back and go with the flow. But I can still have my Martha moments when I am worried, bothered, distracted by what I "need" to do. No matter which end of the spectrum we land on, we both must seek the one thing that is necessary before we do or think or sit or whatever it is we feel called to do. Listen to Jesus. Let Him lead me instead of running off or sitting down relying on my own insight.
"Occupied with Jesus, then occupied for Him."--Lois Reynolds Carpenter