‘Now it came to pass, as they went, that He entered in to a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard His Word. But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to Him, and said, Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Bid her therefore that she help me. And Jesus answered and said unto her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are careful and troubled about many things: hut one thing is necessary: and Mary has chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.’ ”
This short narrative, I suppose, might be paraphrased something after this fashion: Martha and Mary were two most excellent sisters, both converted, both lovers of Jesus, both loved by Jesus, for we are expressly told that He loved Mary and Martha, and Lazarus. They were both women of a choice spirit —our Savior’s selection of their house as a frequent resort proved that they were an unusually gracious family; they are persons representative of different forms of excellence, and I think it altogether wrong to treat Martha as some have done, as if she had no love for good things, and was nothing better than a mere worldling. It was not so; Martha was a most estimable and earnest woman, a true Believer, and an ardent follower of Jesus whose joy it was to entertain Jesus at the house of which she was the mistress.
When our Lord made His Appearance on this occasion at Bethany, the ﬁrst thought of Martha was, “Here is our most noble Guest, we must prepare for Him a sumptuous banquet.” Perhaps she marked our Savior’s weariness, or saw some traces of that exhaustion which made Him look so much older than He was, and she therefore set to work with the utmost diligence to prepare a feast for Him. She was careful about many things, and as she went on with her preparations, fresh matters occurred to ruffle her mind, and she became worried; and being somewhat vexed that her sister took matters so coolly, she begged the Master to upbraid her. Now Mary had looked upon the occasion from another point of view; as soon as she saw Jesus come into the house, she thought, “What a privilege have I now to listen eagerly to such a Teacher, and to treasure up His precious Words! He is the Son of God, I will worship, I will adore, and every Word He utters shall be stored in my memory.” She forgot the needs both of the Master and His followers, for her Faith saw the inner Glory which dwelt within Him. She was so overpowered with reverence, and so wrapt in devout wonder, that she became oblivious of all outward things; she had no faults to ﬁnd with Martha for being so busy; she did not even think of Martha —she was altogether taken up with her Lord, and with those gracious Words which He was speaking. She had no will, either, to censure or to praise, or to think even of herself —everything was gone from her but her Lord and the Words which He was uttering. See, then, that Martha was serving Christ, but so was Mary! Martha meant to honor Christ, so did Mary; they both agreed in their design, but they differed in their way of carrying it out, and while Martha’s service is not censured (only her being cumbered comes under the censure), yet Mary is expressly commended, as having chosen the good part; and therefore we do Martha no injustice if we show wherein she came short, and wherein Mary exceeded.
Our ﬁrst observation will be this, the Martha spirit is very prevalent in the Church of God just now; in the second place, the Martha spirit very much injures true service,” and in the third place, the Mary spirit is the source of the noble form of consecration.