One Needful Thing
We commonly disagree about what is important and what is secondary. Some things are necessary and needful, while other things, while they may be good, are not as important as primary things are. And we have to be able to discern what is most important and what is of lesser importance. Many choices in life boil down to good, better, and best.
In our passage today, two sisters have a disagreement over priorities. One values discipleship and relationships, while the other values things and appearances. Discipleship and relationships are important, and so are things and appearances. But they are not equally important.
Occasionally we have to choose between two good options, and it’s at those times that we need to think about what would be the better choice. Not that either choice is bad, but that one choice is better than the other is. This passage helps us make the better decision.
Mary, Martha, and their brother, Lazarus, lived in Bethany, just outside Jerusalem, on the eastern slope of the Mount of Olives (cf. John 11). So Jesus has now traveled all the way from Galilee in the north down to Judea, about 100 miles journey.
The Bible tells us that Mary and Martha loved Jesus. They both had trusted in him as their Lord and Savior; they believed that he was the Messiah. They both enjoyed listening to him speak. They both enjoyed hosting Jesus in their home. Both are engaged in doing good things. But when there is an opportunity to sit at Jesus’ feet and listen to him teach, you leave the kitchen and stop worrying about the food and the household duties. When Jesus comes to your house, you drop everything, sit at his feet, and hear his words.
This is a rather short passage, but it teaches a profound truth. The one needful thing, the good thing that is more valuable than virtually anything else we can do, is worship. Worship should be a top priority, even more central to us than service is.