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Choosing the Better Part

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Sermon Outline Sermon Title:  “Choosing the Better Part” Sub Title: Distracted by many things Text:  Luke 10:38-42   Location Message Delivered       Date Preached Northeast Community       17 Apr 2005Southern Baptist Church  

Luke 10:38-42

38 Now as they went on their way, he entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home.

39 She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to what he was saying.

40 But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me."

41 But the Lord answered her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things;

42 there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her."


Tag; “Choosing the Better Part”

Story context

Now, the context for this scripture was that Jesus had set his face to go to Jerusalem in order to die on the cross for the sins of mankind.

This was a heavy burden on his heart as he waited on the Lord God for direction and the right timing.

In Luke's account we are now some six months away from the final Passover feast.

It is now October 15, and the Lord was in Bethany, two miles outside of Jerusalem.

Verse 40 further gives us the context and defines some of the customs and traditions of the day

40 But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me."

According to the customs or traditions of that day, Martha had every right to respond the way she did.

The code of hospitality was when someone comes to your door, be it a friend or even a stranger, welcome them and prepare them a meal.


Martha was doing exactly what she was expected to do -- the right and proper thing.

It was the socially acceptable thing to do.

Well what about Mary actions?

Verse 39 says She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to what he was saying.

Now Mary’s Actions were not only unusual but socially unacceptable.

According to every custom of the day, she should have been assisting Martha.

The hospitality code and other customs of that time allowed for nothing else.

And yet, she sits down at Jesus' feet and listens to his teaching.

In their day, a woman was not permitted to fill the role of a disciple.

It was socially unacceptable.

Only males could serve as disciples to the great teachers of that day;

Only males could discuss with their teacher the meanings and nuances of the Torah and other religious writings. 

And  Mary’s actions, if discovered by would bring shame upon her household. 

To go outside the social customs was to risk your reputation and that of your family, and that was a very serious thing.

What help did Mary Give?

10:40 (New King James Version)

But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, "Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me."

This scripture shows that Mary was helping Martha.  It seems that they both  began to prepare the meal.

As they went about their task, it appears that they both were conversing with the Lord as well as listening to him

In time there was something about the words of Jesus that drew Mary away

She listened intently and then just quietly sat at the feet of Jesus, eager to hear every word that he spoke.

Mary lost the main focus of the moment.  For before her, sitting in her home, was the Son of God. The Messiah

Maybe there was something about the character and conversation of Jesus that drew Mary to stop what she was doing.

Our Lord may have been telling them about the coming events in his life, for soon he would go to the cross. 

Being so near Jerusalem and realizing that within six short months he would offer himself up as the final Passover Lamb. 

Jesus may have speaking of his forthcoming death, burial, and his resurrection.

Maybe his conversation and perhaps the tone of his voice drew Mary to the point where she found herself sitting at the feet of Jesus. 

She was hungry, but not for the present meal.

She was hungry for spiritual food.

Mary wanted to hear the words of eternal life, and here HE was in her home-who wants to eat!

She was being fed, deeply by the Lord himself.

Now Mary is mentioned three times in the Bible

Each time she is at the feet of Jesus: John 11:32- She shares her woe;    John 12:3 - She spends her worship; Luke 10:39 - She soaks in His Word

Now Martha's hospitality and diligence in her work is commendable. 

She exhibited great faith, and she lived out her faith in the action of serving others.

But Martha was distracted.

She was distracted by many things. 

She allowed even her service to God to distract her from enjoying His presence in the person of Jesus Christ. 

Her priorities were distorted as she chose good things over the better way.



Her work became more important than her Lord.  Her PURPOSE was DISLOCATED –  What began as a way to serve Jesus slowly became a way to serve self.  Martha became more concerned about pleasing self than pleasing God.  She even got in Jesus' face and began to boss Him (God) around (v.40).  Her PERSPECTIVE was DISILLUSIONED.  Satan didn't take Martha out of the kitchen.  He just took away her purpose for being in the kitchen.

She forgot that the meal was to honor Jesus, not herself.

If Satan can't get you out of the church, he'll disillusion you in church.



Like Mary we can experience God the if we rid ourselves of distractions and focus on Worship as on the better part. 

** Talk about Choir Members and Musicians choosing service over worship **

(Next Slide) #1 Reason for choosing work our worship

·     I have always done it this way or our


Mark 7:9 & 13 (Next Slide)

7:9 And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition.

7:13 Making the word of God of none effect through your tradition, which ye have delivered: and many such like things do ye.

Our service must include sitting (Next Slide)

Romans 12:1 & 2

12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.
 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Closing Remarks

Martha stands as a warning to us to not get so caught up in the activities of serving God that we forget or are too busy to spend time with Him.  Service is an important part of the Christian life, but it can't take the place of Christ Himself.  Our relationships, with God and with people, should take priority over tasks and earthly things.

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