Mary vs Martha

We must aim to replicate Mary’s attitude in life, listening to the Lord rather than simply hearing his words

…Mary…sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.’

What an experience it must have been to sit at the feet of the Lord! To look at Jesus and to hear what he said must have had a huge impact on Mary. Mary had the right attitude when the Lord arrived at her sister’s home: listening to the Lord and what he desires us to do is something which all must do, and there is nowhere better to listen to him than in his presence and at his feet.

Yet, whilst Mary was sat at the Lord’s feet listening earnestly, her sister Martha was not:

Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made’.

Martha’s attention was diverted from the Lord, to whom she had opened her home and, as a result, was not learning all she should have from him. Sometimes, we can be like this. Having let the Lord into our lives, we can forget he is there, or even ignore him entirely, focusing on the unimportant things in life: money, TV, gossip – these things can all get in the way of our relationship with Jesus.

But when Martha asked the Lord to tell her sister to help her, he could finally teach her something important:

…only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Martha learned a valuable lesson that day. Mary had sat listening to Jesus, learning from what he was saying to build upon her relationship with him, and Martha had been too busy worrying about making provisions and doing good works. These things were necessary, but shouldn’t have been her priorities on this day. She now knew that only one thing was needed: the Lord Jesus Christ in her life.

We must aim to replicate Mary’s attitude in life, listening to the Lord rather than simply hearing his words, and we must not let the things of this world hinder us from developing our relationship with our saviour; because even though the Holy Spirit is always with us, we can only get to know him by making time to listen to what he tells us.

Read about Mary and Martha in Luke 10:38–42

Comments 1
  1. Thanks for a well written, succinct article! I would add that Martha often gets a bad press – but as you readily acknowledged, “Martha received him into her house.” (Luke 10:38) It was Martha who first recognised His worth and invited the Lord to spend time with them. To me that is very precious – despite her tendency to become overly concerned with practicalities, she was the first to realise that the Lord was a worthy visitor and one whose company was to be desired. It was to Martha that the wonderful truth that Jesus is “the resurrection and the life” was revealed in John 11 and it was Martha who ‘nailed her colours to the mast’ with a clear confession of faith” – “Yes, Lord; I have believed that you are the Christ, the Son of God, even he that comes into the world.” (John 11:27) No matter how different our personalities, we’re all on a spiritual journey and we never stop learning from the greatest teacher who ever lived! Thanks again for your exposition.

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