“You are anxious and worried about many things”

We all get caught up in the big news stories and emotional dramas of the day. In Luke 10:38-42, we learn what Jesus has to say about it.

Jesus entered a village
where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him.
She had a sister named Mary
who sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak.
Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said,
“Lord, do you not care
that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving?
Tell her to help me.”
The Lord said to her in reply,
“Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things.
There is need of only one thing.
Mary has chosen the better part
and it will not be taken from her.”

When I first heard this story many years ago, I felt sorry for Martha and wondered why Jesus sided with Mary. After many years to consider these words, I better understand it.

This isn’t about Martha doing all the work and Mary sitting idly by. This is about Martha being so focused on worries and anxieties that she misses Jesus’ very words. Perhaps you can imagine Martha off to the side muttering to herself while Jesus speaks, working on making food and cleaning up and doing other busy work, not hearing a word that Jesus is saying. Likely where this is happening is a small place, perhaps a one or two room home — we don’t know. It might even have been outside in a courtyard. But in any event, I’m betting that Martha was within earshot of Jesus. And she was more focused on working by herself than on what Jesus was saying.

Now think about how things are going in our world today. People are so concerned with terrorism or national politics or local crime that they forget to listen to what Jesus has said. In churches big and small, you hear those who preach pick out select scripture to condemn leaders or sinners or those they deem at the root of every evil. They stoke the fears and anxieties of their congregations. And politicians do this as well. Yet how often do they highlight the words of Jesus the Christ who does the opposite? Jesus doesn’t stoke fears, he welcomes the stranger. He heals the sick and brings the dead back to life! He comforts widows and orphans and cares for the needy. He redeems the lost and refuses to condemn the sinner. He elevates the repenter and rewards the faithful. Yes, he mentions the crucifixion to come, but not it a way to bring about worry and anxiety — rather, as a way to bring clarity of mission to His disciples. It’s always the good news Jesus promotes, not the bad. Jesus lifts up people, He doesn’t bring them down.

Far too often we give in to our worries and anxieties, and there are those who are eager to take advantage of it. Jesus tells us to listen to Him instead – to choose the better part – and not have His good news taken from them.


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