Faithlife Sermons

Martha and Mary

Sermon  •  Submitted
0 ratings

General ideas about passage

Luke & Acts Commentary

This story is found only in Luke’s Gospel and is one of Luke’s banqueting scenes (see “Major Features and Themes” in the Introduction). “Luke appears not to have placed it in chronological sequence, for Bethany was near Jerusalem and at a later time Jesus was still far from the capital (17:11). He might have placed it immediately after the preceding parable as a safeguard against any of his readers coming under the misapprehension that salvation is by works

Luke & Acts Commentary

Jesus repeatedly warned his disciples against undue anxiety, as he does Martha. They were not to worry about the cares of everyday life (12:22; cf. Matt 6:25, 34), for this is unproductive and incompatible with faith in a loving heavenly Father, who cares for the needs of his children (12:23–30). Even in the face of trials, disciples were not to “worry about how to defend yourself or what to say” (12:11–12; cf. Matt 10:19–20); God would supply all their needs if they would make his Kingdom their primary concern (12:31; cf. Matt 6:33; Phil 4:6–7; 1 Pet 5:7).

The Expositor’s Bible, Volume 5: Luke to Galatians Chapter XX: The Two Sisters (Luke 10:38–42)

Martha and Mary, apart from the corroboration of St. John’s Gospel, would not enable us to localise the scene. It is evident that St. Luke wished to throw around them a sort of incognito, probably because they were still living when he wrote, and too great publicity might subject them to inconvenience, or even to something more.

The Expositor’s Bible, Volume 5: Luke to Galatians Chapter XX: The Two Sisters (Luke 10:38–42)

It is a significant coincidence that St. John, speaking (12:2) of another supper at Bethany, in the house of Simon, states that Martha “served,” using the same word that Jesus addressed to her in the narrative of St. Luke. Evidently Martha was a “server.” This was her forte, so much so that her services were in requisition outside her own house. Hers was a culinary skill, and she delighted with her sleight of hand to effect all sorts of transformations, as, conjuring with her fire, she called forth the pleasures and harmonies of taste.


10:38 cierta aldea. Es decir, Betania (cp. Jn 11:1; 12:1–3).

This example warns us, that, in doing what is right, we must take care not to think more highly of ourselves than of others.


10:39 María…sentada a los pies. En el judaísmo no había lugar para discípulas. Jesús rompió este criterio al permitir a las mujeres que le siguieran; y aún más, como en este caso, las usó como modelo del discipulado.

10:39 sat at the feet of Jesus The posture of a learning disciple.


10:40 Marta se preocupaba. Marta, ocupada en los arreglos necesarios para la estadía del Señor, se resentía al ver a María escuchando a Jesús en vez de ayudarla en los quehaceres domésticos. Aunque la actitud de Marta es comprensible, su prioridad es incorrecta, y tipifica a los tres que querían ser discípulos de Cristo en 9:57–62.

Esta version dice distraida !!!
40 pero Marta estaba distraída con los preparativos para la gran cena. Entonces se acercó a Jesús y le dijo:
—Maestro, ¿no te parece injusto que mi hermana esté aquí sentada mientras yo hago todo el trabajo? Dile que venga a ayudarme. 1
1 Nueva Traducción Viviente. (2009). (Lk 10:40). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.
The Expositor’s Bible, Volume 5: Luke to Galatians Chapter XX: The Two Sisters (Luke 10:38–42)

” Her tone is sharp, querulous, and her words send a deep chill across the table, as when a sea-fret drifts coldly inland. If Mary was in the wrong thus to sit at the feet of Jesus, Martha certainly was not in the right. There was no occasion to give this public reprimand,

Matthew–Luke § 115. Martha and Mary (Luke 10:38–42)

Martha was distracted with all her preparations (v. 40): Out of a sense of responsibility as one hosting such an honored guest, Martha busies herself with preparations. She is probably preparing a special meal for Jesus and his disciples. In late antiquity the preparation for a large banquet could take all day

Matthew–Luke § 115. Martha and Mary (Luke 10:38–42)

Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me (v. 40): Those who have no sympathy for Martha have not had the experience of trying to prepare a special meal for a large number of people.

Esta version dice inquieta
El Señor le dijo:
—Mi apreciada Marta, ¡estás preocupada y tan inquieta con todos los detalles!1
1 Nueva Traducción Viviente. (2009). (Lk 10:41). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.
Mary her sister chose rather to be fed by the Lord. She in a manner deserted her sister who was toiling about much serving, and she sat herself at the Lord’s feet, and in stillness heard His word. Her most faithful ear had heard already; “Be still, and see that I am the Lord.” Martha was troubled, Mary was feasting; the one was arranging many things, the other had her eyes upon the One.1
1 Augustine of Hippo. (1888). Sermons on Selected Lessons of the New Testament. In P. Schaff (Ed.), R. G. MacMullen (Trans.), Saint Augustin: Sermon on the Mount, Harmony of the Gospels, Homilies on the Gospels (Vol. 6, p. 427). New York: Christian Literature Company.


Luke, Volumes 1 & 2 Doing Martha’s Work with Mary’s Heart

We cannot do everything; there is not enough time. Like Mary, therefore, we shall have to choose and choose very deliberately. Life’s affairs will not automatically sort themselves into a true order of priorities. If we do not consciously insist on making “sitting at the Lord’s feet and listening to his word” our number one necessity, a thousand and one other things and duties, all claiming to be prior necessities, will tyrannize our time and energies and rob us of the “good part” in life.13

10:40, 41 Martha’s readiness to serve is laudable, but her distraction and anxiety signal an inner struggle arising from misplaced priorities. Her frustration finally erupts against Jesus, and she accuses Him of not caring about her plight (cf. the disciples’ desperate question amid the storm; Mark 4:38).

0:41 Martha, Martha The double use of her name serves as a gentle rebuke.

The rebuke that Jesus gave Martha was gentle; her heart was right; it was her priorities that were wrong. And, too, she was focusing on herself

10:41 My dear Martha. Lit., “Martha, Martha.” The reply of Jesus is sensitive and tender and perhaps indicates a tendency for Jesus to occasionally use doubled words (note “Simon, Simon” in 22:31). There are several instances in the Bible where a name is repeated in a significant manner for emphasis: Abraham (Gen 22:11), Jacob (Gen 46:2), Moses (Exod 3:4), Samuel (1 Sam 3:4, 10), and Saul (Acts 9:4; 26:14).

31 »Simón, Simón, mira que Satanás los ha reclamado a ustedes para zarandearlos como a trigo; 1
1 Nueva Biblia de las Américas. (2005). (Lk 22:31). La Habra: The Lockman Foundation.
Al caer a tierra, oyó una voz que le decía: «Saulo, Saulo, ¿por qué me persigues?». 1
1 Nueva Biblia de las Américas. (2005). (Ac 9:4). La Habra: The Lockman Foundation.
The Expositor’s Bible, Volume 5: Luke to Galatians Chapter XX: The Two Sisters (Luke 10:38–42)

It is easy to see from this where Jesus thought the blame should rest. It was Martha who had taken too much upon herself. Her generous heart had gone beyond her strength, and far beyond the need. Wishing to do honour to her Guest, studying to please Him, she had been over-lavish in her entertainment, until she had become worried—anxious, troubled, as Jesus said, the former word referring to the inner disquiet, the unrest of the soul, and the latter to the outward perturbation, the tremor of the nerves, and the cloudiness that looked from her eyes.


Luke, Volumes 1 & 2 Doing Martha’s Work with Mary’s Heart

“Don’t be so distracted and concerned about doing good that you neglect what is most important, namely, to sit at the feet of Jesus and hear the Word of God.”14 However, we need to think about this the right way. Our quiet time with Christ is not another item on our to-do list—yet one more thing that we have to do for Jesus; rather, it is an opportunity for him to do something for us

10:42 una sola cosa es necesaria. Jesús señala que sólo una cosa es de verdadero valor; es decir, el recibir la enseñanza directamente de Cristo, lo cual María había decidido hacer.

10:42 one thing … good part. Jesus was not speaking of the number of dishes to be served. The one thing necessary was exemplified by Mary, i.e, an attitude of worship and meditation, listening with an open mind and heart to Jesus’ words.

10:42 Mary knows that listening to Jesus is an extraordinary opportunity, to be given preference over other concerns (Mark 9:7).

7 Entonces se formó una nube que los cubrió, y una voz salió de la nube: «Este es Mi Hijo amado; oigan a Élb» 1
1 Nueva Biblia de las Américas. (2005). (Mk 9:7). La Habra: The Lockman Foundation.
Matthew–Luke § 115. Martha and Mary (Luke 10:38–42)

The reference to one thing that is really necessary, reminds us of the point that Jesus will make the night before his arrest: “For the poor you always have with you, and whenever you wish, you can do them good; but you do not always have me” (Mark 14:7).

Joshua’s (Josh. 24:15) !!!
Not acomparason of one choosing bad vs but instead of one choosing better // Main point
The Expositor’s Bible, Volume 5: Luke to Galatians Chapter XX: The Two Sisters (Luke 10:38–42)

But was Mary so utterly selfish? and did she sacrifice duty to gratify her inclination? Not at all, and certainly not to the extent our Marthas would have us believe. Mary had assisted in the preparations and the reception, as the “also” of ver. 39 shows; while Martha’s own words, “My sister did leave me to serve alone,” themselves imply that Mary had shared the labours of the entertainment before taking her place at the feet of Jesus. The probability is that she had completed her task, and now that He who spake as never man spake before was conversing with the guests, she could not forego the privilege of listening to the voice she might not hear again.

The Expositor’s Bible, Volume 5: Luke to Galatians Chapter XX: The Two Sisters (Luke 10:38–42)

He answers Martha in her own language, her native tongue; for in speaking of Mary’s choice as the “good part,” it is a culinary phrase, the parlance of the kitchen or the table, meaning the choice bit.

Moral of the story

Luke, Volumes 1 & 2 What Mary Chose

What Jesus said about the one needful thing also has a wider application. There is only one thing that is necessary for any of us. It is not anything that we can ever do for God. This was Martha’s mistake. She thought that what was really important was her service for God. Yet our service for God can never be necessary in the absolute sense, because he does not need us at all. As the apostle Paul said, God is not “served by human hands, as though he needed anything” (Acts 17:25). God can do perfectly well without our service. But we, on the other hand, are in desperate need of him. Therefore, what is necessary for every Mary or Martha is not to serve Jesus, but to be served by him.

To be more specific, the one thing necessary is to receive the Word of God through the ministry of Jesus Christ. It is by this Word that God gives us the saving knowledge of his Son. The one thing that is truly necessary for us, therefore, is to hear what Jesus has to say about the way of salvation:

Luke, Volumes 1 & 2 What Mary Chose

With this in mind, Jesus told Martha that her sister had made the right decision: “Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:42). This expression fits the context perfectly, because the Greek word for portion (merida) often refers to a meal. While Martha was preparing one meal, Mary was having another, better one. She was feeding on the Living Word.

Strictly speaking, Jesus did not say that Mary chose something better, but simply that she chose “the good portion.” Nevertheless, he still seems to be making a comparison. It is good to serve the Lord, as Martha did, but better still to love him and learn from him. To be sure, practical service has its place in the Christian life. Jesus values our service; more than that, he demands it. In fact, as Mary sat listening to Jesus she may well have heard him say something about serving God by serving others. But what we do for Jesus is not the heart of our relationship with him. He prizes our friendship and our fellowship more highly than all our service. He wants us to be with him and to know him. He wants us to give ourselves to him, just as he gives himself to us. The good portion is Jesus himself.

Martha redeemed

Luke, Volumes 1 & 2 Doing Martha’s Work with Mary’s Heart

she made one of the first great confessions of the Christian faith: “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world” (John 11:27). Martha got it. When the crisis came and she had to look death in the eye, her theology did not let her down. When she was in the living room with Jesus, she learned what was most necessary of all: not anything that she could ever do for God, but what God was doing for her through Jesus Christ.

19 y muchos de los judíosa habían venido a la casa de Marta y Maríab, para consolarlasc por la muerte de su hermano.

20 Entonces Marta, cuando oyó que Jesús venía, lo fue a recibir, pero Maríaa se quedó sentada en casa.

21 Y1 Marta dijo a Jesús: «Señora, si hubieras estado aquí, mi hermano no habría muertob.

22 »Aun ahora, yo sé que todo lo que pidas a Dios, Dios te lo concederáa»

23 «Tu hermano resucitará», le dijo* Jesús.

24 Marta le contestó*: «Yo sé que resucitará en la resurreccióna, en el día final»

25 Jesús le contestó: «Yo soy la resurrección y la vidaa; el que cree en Mí, aunque muera, vivirá,

26 y todo el que vive y cree en Mí, no morirá jamása. ¿Crees esto?».

20 Entonces Marta, cuando oyó que Jesús venía, lo fue a recibir, pero María se quedó sentada en casa.
21 Y Marta dijo a Jesús: «Señor, si hubieras estado aquí, mi hermano no habría muerto. 1
1 Nueva Biblia de las Américas. (2005). (Jn 11:20–21). La Habra: The Lockman Foundation.
20 Cuando Marta se enteró de que Jesús estaba por llegar, salió a su encuentro, pero María se quedó en la casa.
21 Marta le dijo a Jesús: —Señor, si tan sólo hubieras estado aquí, mi hermano no habría muerto;
22 pero aun ahora, yo sé que Dios te dará todo lo que pidas. 1
1 Nueva Traducción Viviente. (2009). (Jn 11:20–22). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.
11:21 if You had been here. Cf. v. 32. Not a rebuke of Jesus but a testimony of her trust in His healing power.1
1 MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Jn 11:21). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.
11:22 whatever You ask of God. Based on her statement in v. 39, Martha was not saying she believed Jesus could raise Lazarus from the dead, but that she knew He had a special relationship to God so that His prayers could bring some good from this sad event.1
1 MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible: New American Standard Bible. (Jn 11:22). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers.
11:22 even now. Martha still expects some miracle, although it seems that her brother is beyond recovery. When Jesus speaks of resurrection, she relates it to the distant future, the “last day” (v. 24). Martha’s faith is better informed than the faith of the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection (Matt. 22:23).1
1 Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2015). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (2015 Edition) (p. 1878). Orlando, FL: Reformation Trust.
11:22 Aun ahora, yo sé. Marta no espera que Jesús lo resucite inmediatamente. (El vers. 39 muestra su escepticismo). Lo que parece afirmar es que su fe en Jesús no ha desaparecido, y que todavía confía en El y en su poder milagroso.1
1 Hernández, E. A., Lockman Foundation. (2003). Biblia de estudio: LBLA. (Jn 11:22). La Habra, CA: Editorial Funacion, Casa Editoral para La Fundacion Biblica Lockman.
The Expositor’s Bible, Volume 5: Luke to Galatians Chapter XX: The Two Sisters (Luke 10:38–42)

Martha was all absorbed in the thought of what she could do for Him, and she forgot how much more He could do for her, giving to her chafed spirit quietness and rest, even amid her toil. The Divine Peace was near her, within her home, but the hurryings of her restless will and her manifold activities effectually excluded that peace from her heart.

And how many who call themselves Christians are true Marthas, serving Christ, but feeling the yoke to chafe, and the burden to weight them! perhaps preaching to others the Gospel of rest and peace, and themselves knowing little of its experience and blessedness—like the camels of the desert, which carry their treasures of corn and sweet spices to others, and themselves feed on the bitter and prickly herbs

Luke 1–12 for You Chapter 11: Listening and Speaking (Luke Chapter 10 Verse 38 to 11 Verse 36)

Martha is confused about who is the one truly spreading the feast in her home. If she would only stop for a moment, she would see that Jesus really wants to serve her with his teaching.

Luke 1–12 for You Chapter 11: Listening and Speaking (Luke Chapter 10 Verse 38 to 11 Verse 36)

But the one thing most necessary in our lives is to invest our time in listening to Jesus’ teaching. As with any other relationship, our relationship with Jesus is based on spending time with him. We do that not primarily by serving him but by getting to know him through his word. Clean houses and full bank accounts will not endure past the grave, but our relationship with Jesus through his words now, and face to face one day, can never be taken from us (v 42).

Related Media
Related Sermons