Meditation for Donna Jean Jones Dec. 17

Luke 10:38-42 Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him as a guest. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he said. But Martha was distracted with all the preparations she had to make, so she came up to him and said, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do all the work alone? Tell her to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things, but one thing is needed. Mary has chosen the best part; it will not be taken away from her.”

This is a familiar story for us ladies, but I would like for us to consider a few new thoughts as we look at it this morning. First, this narrative was never intended to be reduced to a rivalry between the Marys and the Marthas in the church. When we study this we typically simply say “Are you a Martha?” – The worker bee or “Are you a Mary?” – The contemplative prayerful sitter; Martha bad – Mary good!

Also, this narrative was not intended to be only about busy women in the church – the underlying truths are not gender specific, the truths revealed are for everyone. Additionally, I think the narrative also applies to the seasons in our life, for example when we are in the midst of our busy lives, starting careers or we have children at home – we all seem like Martha, then when we are older and have more quiet time or when we are limited by our energy or health – we all seem like Mary.

Last, this narrative directly follows the parable of the Good Samaritan, which ends with Jesus saying to his disciples and the expert in the law – “Go and do likewise”

Martha was doing likewise; she was busy doing what needed to be done. What I want us to notice is that Jesus identifies Martha’s real problem, she was distracted by the preparations – she was worrying about the many things of life, then by the time she speaks to Jesus she is exasperated and demands that Jesus send Mary to help her!

When Martha complains to Jesus, He sees through her hurt and harsh words to the heart of the problem. “Martha, Martha you are troubled about many things”. Jesus isn’t criticizing her for her good works, but he is concerned that she is anxious and troubled – worrying about the things of life. We should also note that Martha wasn’t the only one who was worried in this group; later the disciples try to discourage Jesus from going to Jerusalem because they too were worried about the plots to kill Jesus.

Notice too that Jesus wasn’t commending Mary for her lack of action, He was commending her for being a disciple, for listening and learning – Listening and Learning are important! This should be our priority.

Jesus was inviting Martha to move from being distracted to be attentive to Him. When we busy ourselves out of fear or anxiety – we become too busy to listen and learn. When we are troubled about many things – they crowd out what is most important. Jesus was inviting Martha to reconsider what is really important, to realign her priorities to what is of first importance. I think we can see that Jesus’ words to Martha are an invitation rather than a rebuke.

Mary wasn’t worried about “all these things” like Martha, she was hanging on every word from Jesus and she was very bold to sit at his feet, the place traditionally reserved for male disciples. Mary broke through the barriers in life to listen and learn at Jesus feet. Like the woman who risked rejection just to touch the hem of Jesus’ garment in order to be healed. They both risked rejection, they boldly put aside the worries and troubles of that day and were both commended by our Savior.

When Donna came into our fellowship it was easy to see that she had a heart like Mary; Donna took every opportunity to study and hear God’s Word and to sit at Jesus’ feet. She would often say to me that she was sorry she couldn’t do more, but what I observed was that in this season of her life Jesus allowed her the great privilege to sit, to meditate study and pray at Jesus’ feet. She was a disciple who was listening and learning. Donna delighted in our JOY of Living bible study group, often when we were engaged in discussion she would quote from memory scripture that we should remember and consider. She was a disciple who learned, listened and remembered the goodness of God.

Later Martha, who as we have noted is best known as being too busy to sit down and talk with Jesus, is revealed as a woman of deep faith in the Gospel of John. Martha, Mary and Lazarus are at home in Bethany when Lazarus becomes very sick, they send a message to Jesus asking him to come quickly saying, “The one you love is sick”. Now, Jesus was not that far away and we remember that Jesus has already demonstrated that he has the power to heal the sick and raise the dead. In Luke 7 – Jesus raises to life the dead son of the widow of Nain when he sees the funeral procession. In Mark 5 – Jesus brings back to life the daughter of Jarius’ from a great distance. But this time Jesus stays where he was for two more days. By the time Jesus arrives at Bethany Lazarus has been dead and in the tomb for four days.

This time Martha runs to meet Jesus while Mary sits in the house. Martha expresses her great faith saying, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will grant you.” Lazarus’ death meant more than grief and sorrow to the sisters, he was their source of their financial security – even though he was young he was the male heir. Additionally, we are told of the great love Jesus had for this family. The gossip among the mourners was negative, some of them said, “This is the man who caused the blind man to see! Couldn’t he have done something to keep Lazarus from dying?”

Jesus replied, “Your brother will come back to life again.” Martha said, “I know that he will come back to life again in the resurrection at the last day.” Martha considers Jesus’ words as a customary statement of comfort in her mourning, but is she again worried about many things? – I would be.

Then Jesus said to Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live even if he dies, and the one who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” She replied, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God who comes into the world.” John 11:25-26

Jesus responds to Martha’s grief with profound truth and powerful action by demonstrating his great love for this family and His great love for each one of us. Note it is not just time for grief and comfort – but time for action – go and do likewise. In this resurrection from the dead Jesus demonstrates what God will do for us. Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead because Jesus is the RESSURECTION! Jesus is the LIFE that gives us hope, He is “the way the truth and the Life, no one comes to the Father except through the Son”, Jesus. Our HOPE is the same as Donna’s HOPE. Our HOPE was forever guaranteed when Jesus rose triumphant from the grave. If death could not hold Jesus, then neither will it stand between us and our Savior. Our hope of life beyond the grave is grounded on Jesus’ promise, and His promise is certain because of His power over death and the grave.

At this time of the year, I would like to challenge us to think like Mary even when we need to act like Martha. Do not become so busy worrying about the things of life, our grief and our to-do list, to be distracted from heart of God. Be a disciple of Jesus, listen and learn from Jesus and go and do likewise. Jesus’s words to Martha are the same to us “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live even if he dies, and the one who lives and believes in me will never die”.

Jesus says to us what he said to Martha – Do you believe this?

I will end with the Lyrics of a praise song we sang on Sunday, it reminded me of Donna and her life of being a disciple of Jesus –

From O Come to the Altar, by Elevation Worship

Are you hurting and broken within?
Overwhelmed by the weight of your sin?
Jesus is calling
Have you come to the end of yourself?
Do you thirst for a drink from the well?
Jesus is calling
Bring your sorrows and trade them for joy
From the ashes, a new life is born
Jesus is calling
O come to the altar
The Father’s arms are open wide
Forgiveness was bought with
The precious blood of Jesus Christ
Leave behind your regrets and mistakes
Come today, there’s no reason to wait

Ephesians 2:7-13

Paul continues with “But God!” when we were dead in our sins God made us alive with Christ, God raised us up and seated us together with Jesus. This was all done by God’s grace, because of His great love for us. We now learn why God did this, He did this to demonstrate in all time “the surpassing wealth of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus”. God provided the way for mankind to be put back into a right relationship with our Creator, through Christ’s sacrifice and the demonstration of God’s power in His resurrection we are transferred from death to life.

God’s kindness towards the entire world including all mankind is clearly seen in creation, in the beauty of earth, the changing seasons, new life, the knowledge to make advances in science and the creativity to produce art. When we have an attitude of gratitude for all blessings from our Creator God we put into practice a proper Christian worldview of thankfulness for these blessings. At times our imagination can drive our expectations about what we deserve to great heights, and then when reality is revealed we can become stuck in our disappointment, driving us to negative thoughts and destroying relationships. When we actively practice thankfulness we reject the strivings of our culture that says we deserve more. We are reminded that “God has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms in Christ”.

In addition to the natural blessing we receive from God, He has extended His blessings further to redeem us from our sin. “For by grace you are saved, through faith and this is not from yourselves, it is a gift of God; it is not from works, so that no one can boast”. It is important to note:
1. This is the perfect tense in Greek which indicates both completed action, “you have been saved” and continuing results, “you are saved”.
2. Faith is not a “work.” Faith does not merit salvation; it is the means by which we accept God’s free gift of salvation.
3. The source of my salvation is not me; the source of my salvation is God alone; it is a free gift from God – grace.

“When someone gives you a gift, do you say, “That’s very nice—now how much do I owe you?” No, the appropriate response to a gift is “Thank you.” Yet how often Christians, even after they have been given the gift of salvation, feel obligated to try to work their way to God. Because our salvation and even our faith are gifts, we should respond with gratitude, praise, and joy”. LIFE Application Bible

Next Paul directs our thoughts to our actions, we are not saved by our works, but once we are saved by grace we learn that “we are God’s creative work, having been created in Christ Jesus for good works that God prepared beforehand so we can do them.” Remember from the beginning of chapter 2, we are told that before we believed we “were dead in our offenses and sins, in which you formerly lived according to this world’s present path.” Previously we walked in the ways of the world, but now that we believe we are to walk in the ways of God, join God in His work, following God’s laws and His leading is the very best life God has prepared for us.

“No, we neither make nor save ourselves. God does both the making and saving. He creates each of us by Christ Jesus to join him in the work he does, the good work he has gotten ready for us to do, work we had better be doing”. Ephesians 2:10 – The Message

From 2 Corinthians 9:8-12 we learn “God is able to make all grace overflow to you so that because you have enough of everything in every way at all times, you will overflow in every good work”. God provides what we need, His grace will overflow to us and we will overflow in every good work all this will result in overflowing thankfulness to God. From 2 Timothy we learn that “Every scripture is inspired by God and useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the person dedicated to God may be capable and equipped for every good work”. It is important to note that walking the path God has for us is doable, we are equipped, we have enough of everything we need and His grace will overflow to us.

Paul returns to the topic of who we were before we believed, “Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh who are called “uncircumcision” by the so-called “circumcision” that is performed on the body by human hands. That you were at that time without the Messiah, alienated from the citizenship of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world”. But we remember that earlier in this letter Paul tells us that God chose us before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before Him in love. Now we are told how this happened, “But now in Christ Jesus you who used to be far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.”

This reminds us of the instruction from God for the Temple sacrifices in Jerusalem, for the purposes of forgiveness of sin and restoration into a right relationship with the LORD. When the people of God presented an unblemished animal for sacrifice at the Temple they would place their hands on the animal’s head to transfer their sins to the animal. Then the animal would be killed and their blood sprinkled on the altar, “According to the law almost everything was purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness”.

Hebrews 9 explains how Christ did this for us, “He has appeared once for all at the consummation of the ages to put away sin by his sacrifice…Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many to those who eagerly await him he will appear a second time, not to bear sin but to bring salvation”. But God! We who were separated from God because of our sins, are now brought near to God, we can now stand in God’s presence because of the sacrifice of Christ Jesus. When we say His blood this means Christ’s death, His sacrifice, Jesus died for us so that we can be made clean and stand tall before the LORD of the Universe washed clean from the stain of our sins.