Sermon: Devoted or Distracted (Luke 10:38-42)

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Devoted or Distracted?

Here before us today is another account that has only been preserved for us by Luke.  This is the encounter Jesus has with Mary and Martha.

This text is all about welcoming a guest.  It’s about hospitality.  Under normal circumstances, Martha’s acts would be correct and Mary’s would be wrong.  Here, however, the scene is much different.  The guest reclining in their home is not a normal visitor but the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  The Visitor has Word of eternal life.  The Words Jesus shares with this household are the Words of the Gospel, the Kingdom, and discipleship.

It’s not by accident that this text follows the account of the Good Samaritan.  The lawyer was one who refused to be even hospitable to the man in need.  Here we see to women who welcome Jesus into their home.  No doubt this was a town in which the disciples had already been as they were sent on ahead by Jesus.

Mary, not Martha gives Jesus the welcome He seeks by listening to His teaching.  Jesus is concerned with genuine hearing of the Word.  The Lawyer in our account last week heard what Jesus said but did not really hear.  Mary, on the other hand, gives Jesus her undivided attention…she is hearing like Jesus desires.

Notice as I read, the difference between distracted sinful Martha and Mary who is on the edge of her seat as she listens to every Word Jesus has to say.  Also notice that in her distractedness, she becomes agitated because her sister is not concerned with the things she is anxious about.

This is God’s Word…

Lk 10:38 Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house.

Lk 10:39 And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching.

Lk 10:40 But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.”

Lk 10:41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things,

Lk 10:42 but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

1. Mary’s Devotion

Lk 10:39 And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching.

Last week we looked with great interest at a man who refused to listen to Jesus’ Words.  Luke has recorded for us other examples of various people and groups who also refused to listen to His Words.

We have an example of a young lady who is the picture of discipleship.  Here devotion to Jesus is seen very clearly as we’re told she was sitting at the feet of Jesus listening to His teaching.  Her attention was fixed on Christ and His every Word.  The words of Jesus had captivated her and it was as if she was transported to another world.  The cares of this life had left and all she was focused on was the teaching of Jesus.

We’re not told what He taught about…perhaps He was in the midst of explaining the Gospel to her.  He may have been describing experiences and sharing their meaning.  He, might have been instructing her as to how to be a better follower.  Whatever Jesus was saying to Mary, she was glued to His every Word.

Her posture is important.  Luke tells us she was sitting at the feet of Jesus.  This is an ancient tradition that a student or disciple would sit at the feet of the One with authority.  So her posture shows that she was the student and He was the Master Teacher.  She was submissive to His authority.  The Bible says, she sat and listened.  She was one of the ones who was really hearing His Words.  She was taking them in and pondering their meaning for her.  She was a true disciple.

Do you sense the peace in Mary’s heart?  She is calm and content to listen to and be with Her Lord.  The time she is spending with Jesus is more important to her than anything else.

2. Martha’s Distraction

Lk 10:40 But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.”

Lk 10:41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things,

Mary is at peace listening to Christ but Martha is distracted, literally, Martha’s mind is pulled in every direction—Hendriksen 598.  Martha’s mind is caught up in superficial things.  It’s entangled in the business of the hour.  She is anxious and troubled.

Jesus pinpoints two enemies of discipleship:

Distractions and Anxiety.

These were sinful distractions.  That’s something most people overlook.  Martha was not just doing something good at the expense of something better she was flat out sinning.  These distractions caused her to be anxious and troubled.

Phil 4:6 do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

Mt 6:34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

We all have a little Martha in us that we need to root out.  What are the things that you get entangled in at the cost of something crucial?  Martha’s priorities were wrong.  She was not at peace.  She is serving while Jesus is sharing the Gospel.

Is your mind caught up and entangled with things that at the end of the day, really don’t matter much?

Another place in the New Testament, Jesus calls this idolatry.

Martha’s mind was stuck in this world and all her responsibilities while Mary’s thinking was in the other kingdom.  Martha was stuck in sinful anxiety while Mary was at peace.

I want to show you what the sin of being distracted does to us.  Notice again Mary’s posture and what Luke says… sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching.

Mary is submissive.

Distractions cause us to loose our interest and ability to submit to Christ’s teaching.  Martha was so busy and so missing the point that rather than submitting to the authority of Jesus, she barges in and tries to tell Him what to do… And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” Can you believe that Martha would be so arrogant as to tell Jesus what to do?  She is not submissive.  What is it that is so important that Martha would interrupt Jesus right in the middle of His teaching?

We can become consumed with things that really simply don’t matter.  What is distracting you from sitting at the feet of Jesus and listening to His Word?

The best place to do this is in the local church on Sunday mornings.  Are you distracted when you come to worship?  Do you arrive early anticipating what the Lord will reveal to us or do you just barely make it?  Are you often late?  Do you leave right after because you have some pressing distraction?  What about time to spend alone with the Lord in prayer and Bible study?  Do you struggle to find time?

What’s the answer to the sin of distractions?

Sit down and do some soul searching and make a list of priorities.  It may be that you should give up some things…maybe a lot of things.  Are you so busy, you can’t serve the Lord in the local church?

We must understand that distractions are sin and therefore, the answer is to repent and make changes.

One indication of distractions in your life is that you don’t submit to the Word of God.  You’re too busy to submit.  You’re too busy doing everything that you believe that if something is going to get done, you must do it.

What Martha was really telling Jesus was to be quiet until the important things are finished and then after they are done He could teach.

Jesus was more concerned for Martha’s soul than anything else…

But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things,

Mt 6:19 “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal,

Mt 6:20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.

Mt 6:21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.    

Where was Martha’s heart?  Was it on the things of God or the things of earth?  Where is your heart?

Anxiety is produced when we care too much about the wrong things.  Anxiety is a good indicator that something is wrong.  You can take a pill to lessen it and make it more bearable but anxiety is speaking to you about the condition of your soul.  Jesus was lovingly telling Martha that something was very wrong with her thinking and her soul.  Jesus is expressing disapproval and grave concern.

There were more important things at the moment than an elaborate meal.  Martha was missing the Gospel.  Her mind was literally thinking about everything except what it should have been thinking about.

3. Mary’s Good Portion

Lk 10:42 but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

Martha was troubled about many things…only one thing is important.  Christ’s Word.  Listening and submitting to the Word of God is the good portion that will not be taken away.

Can there be anything more important than complete and undistracted attention to Jesus Christ?

Mary was listening to His Word and becoming a disciple.

Perhaps Martha’s heart was opened as she realized that the things she had been doing were trivial compared to listening to the words of Christ.  The Bible doesn’t say but something changed in Martha’s heart at some point.  Her treasure was changed from earthly things to heavenly things.  At some point she got it and everything clicked.

Jn 11:17 Now when Jesus came, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days.

Jn 11:18 Bethany was near Jerusalem, about two miles off,

Jn 11:19 and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them concerning their brother.

Jn 11:20 So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary remained seated in the house.

Jn 11:21 Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.

Jn 11:22 But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.”

Jn 11:23 Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.”

Jn 11:24 Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.”

Jn 11:25 Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live,

Jn 11:26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?”

Jn 11:27 She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.”

Is your life full of distractions?  Do you find yourself anxious and troubled?  Allow those emotions to point to the fact that something needs to be different.  Let the superficial go and grab hold of the eternal.  Be devoted to Christ and not distracted from Christ.  Martha did it and so can you…

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