1. A CONTRAST IN PRIORITIES
As the narrative unfolded, we saw that two different people had the same opportunity--namely, to have the Son of God in their home! What a privilege! However, the sisters reacted in different ways to this blessed opportunity.
Mary, at least on this occasion, had a different priority than Martha. She chose to sit at the Lord's feet and hear what He had to say. That took precedence over everything else; it was most important to her. Mary approved that which was excellent (cf. Phil. 1:10). No, she did not discount the fact that food would be needed, but it wasn't a priority for her at the time, as it seemed to be with Martha. Let it be understood that there is certainly nothing wrong with food preparation. In fact, it is a noble act of service. However, when a task like preparing food becomes more important than learning from the Lord of the Universe, there is a problem! Spiritual needs should be placed above physical needs. Did not our Lord Himself say - "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God'" (Matt. 4:4)? Yes, bread is necessary, but, it would do a person no good at all if he or she ignored the word of God. The words of Jesus were Mary's first priority; clearly, such was not the case with Martha. It wasn't that Martha chose something wrong, she just didn't choose that which was best. Can you see the contrast?
2. A CONTRAST IN PRESSURES
Martha is described as being "distracted with much serving" (Luke 10:40). She was worried about it and burdened by it. She was overdoing the matter, and this brought unnecessary pressure and anxiety. She had reached the point, you might say, where she had too many dishes to prepare. And she brought the burden upon herself; no one had placed it upon her. This happens so easily, doesn't it? Adopting the wrong priorities often leads to unnecessary pressures.
For instance, the child of God whose prime interest in life is to please God and do His will is not caught up in the rush for the pleasures of this world ( I John 2:15). He is not trying to make a name for himself or gain as many possessions as he can accumulate. He is one of those people who is content with food and clothing (I Tim. 6:8). He is content in whatever state he finds himself in--whether he is living very humbly or whether he is abounding in worldly goods (Phil. 4:12). Yes, the child of God has pressures to deal with, but they are not anything like the person of the world who is struggling for power and wealth.
In Martha, I think we see a person drawn in two different directions at once. If she were to try to sit down and listen to the words of Jesus, she would be pulled toward the meal she thought needed to be prepared. Her mind would be distracted by the tasks that she thought needed to receive attention in the kitchen. Just think of it! Here is a woman in the presence of the Son of God. She has Jesus in her home, but rather than being a blessing, she is making Him a burden! She is so busy thinking of what she thinks she needs to do for Him that she ignores what He could do for her! There is an undeniable contrast in pressures between Mary and Martha.
Clearly, these contrasts are closely related to each other. When a person has a preference for the spiritual over everything else, then he will surely give spiritual matters a place of first priority in life. This will eliminate some of the pressures and distractions that the world deals with daily. Tomorrow we will share some concluding thoughts regarding Mary and Martha.