Martha squeezed her way through the crowd of people in her home who came to hear Jesus speak. She carried a large bowl filled with pomegranates, grapes, and figs. She set these on the wooden table and went back to get the bread she had made earlier in the day. Where is Mary? She thought, as she tore the bread into bite-size pieces and set the chunks on a clay platter. Again, she fought her way through the throng of people to put the bread on the table.
A crippled man dressed in rags, sitting on the dusty floor near the doorway to her kitchen, the doorway she had come in and out of nearly 100 times in the past hour, reached out and touched her hand as she passed. “May I have some water,” he asked. She pushed a strand of hair away from her face as she looked down at him. “Sure,” she answered realizing her own throat was parched. She hadn’t had time to eat or drink anything yet today. Again, she wondered, Where on earth is Mary? I can’t take care of all these people myself. She found a mug, poured some water into it, and handed it to the man.
The room was so full of people. Many of them had traveled miles to hear Jesus speak. They were all hungry and thirsty and she wanted to provide food and drink for them. She wanted them to find her home a refuge, a place to relax and to soak up the words Jesus spoke. Words that had power to touch peoples lives, and change them forever.
When Jesus was present, you never knew what would happen. Just recently he had healed a boy possessed by an evil spirit. A week ago he had feed thousands of people with only five loaves and two fish. She could hear his familiar voice resonating throughout her home, but she didn’t have time to listen to his message. It was her duty to take care of all these people.
A young man dressed in a purple robe lined with expensive satin came towards her. “The bread is gone, do you have any more?” She recognized him as one of the vendors in town who sold spices in the market place. “I do. I will be right back with another plate,” she answered. As she pushed her way toward the kitchen, anger rose in her chest. She felt her heart begin to beat quickly. She glanced around the room trying to find Mary. She needed her help, desperately. “Where is she?”
Martha stood on her tiptoes and looked over the heads of the crowd to where Jesus sat. He sat on a wooden chair next to the fireplace, which she noticed needed more wood. Then she spotted Mary. She was sitting on the floor at Jesus feet. The bubble of anger she felt a few moments earlier burst. She couldn’t believe her eyes.
Didn’t Mary know how much work it took to serve all these people? And, Jesus instead of rebuking Mary for not helping was allowing her to just sit at His feet. Meanwhile Martha ran around like a chicken with her head cut off. She forced her way towards Jesus and Mary. She had been running herself ragged taking care of all these people while Mary was just sitting on the floor! Mary hadn’t even noticed that the fire was going out. Couldn’t she at least take care of the fire? Why should I have to do all the work? Martha fumed.
Forgetting about the wealthy young man who asked for more bread, Martha continued towards Jesus. He saw her coming and paused for a moment, knowing she wanted to talk to him. Her anger towards Mary consumed her.
“Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her to help me,” Martha demanded.
Jesus looked into Martha’s eyes, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken from her.” Jesus’ words pierced her heart.
She felt the tears well up in her eyes. Jesus, who had the power to heal, and to do miracles, had been right in her midst teaching, and she had spent the time busy and anxious and totally missing the blessings he offered. She looked at Mary who seemed so peaceful. She had a glow about her, a joy Martha didn’t have.
Jesus continued speaking to the crowd as Martha placed a few pieces of wood on the fire. She stopped and really listened. “…This is how you should pray, ‘Our Father, who art in Heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done…” What a fool I’ve been, she chided herself. I invited Jesus into my home but I’ve been too busy to enjoy his presence. She didn’t want to miss another word so she sat down next to Mary, and put her hand on Mary’s hand. Mary smiled and leaned into Martha as together they sat at Jesus feet, warmed by the glowing fire, and listened to His words that offered hope, wisdom and life.
As Christmas approaches many women get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the season. Like Martha, women become anxious and very, very busy. Instead of a time of peace, Christmas has become a time of stress and anxiety. Many women overspend, become exhausted from all the activities, and try to meet extremely demanding expectations – like fixing a Bon Apetite meal, decorating their homes to look like the pictures in Martha Stewart Living, and creating unrealistic Hallmark family moments.
No wonder a recent online survey discovered the words that first come to a woman’s mind during the holiday season are “stress,” and “anxiety”. In this same survey, many women confessed they struggled more during the holidays with depression, and many turned to over eating and alcohol to decrease their anxiety. Let’s be honest, we’re still struggling with the same issues Martha did. We get caught up in being busy, we fret over what gifts to give, we focus on decorating our homes, and fixing impressive foods. Many of our motives are good – to serve others, to create an inviting environment, to create meaningful traditions, but if the result is stress and anxiety, then we’re on the wrong path.
Remembering the birth of Jesus should be a time of peace. He is the Prince of Peace and He longs for us to rest in Him, not be busy because of Him.
So, this year I challenge you to experience Christmas like you never have before. Spend time each day at Jesus feet. Find a quiet moment and a quiet place and read the Bible, soak in the words He is saying to you.
Don’t let another Christmas pass without remembering what it’s all about. Celebrate Jesus birth with a new heart, a heart desiring to know Him and enjoy Him. Don’t have another Martha Christmas - this year have a very “Mary” Christmas.
Below are Bible reading suggestions for the month of December from the book of Luke. May you find Him closer to your heart this year..…
As you read, ask yourself two questions each day:
1. What are Jesus actions, words and attitudes in this passage?
2. What is He saying to me that I can apply to my life today?
December 1 – Luke 4
December 2 – Luke 5: 1-26
December 3 – Luke 5:27-39
December 4 – Luke 6:1-26
December 5 – Luke 6: 27-49
December 6 – Luke 7:1-23
December 7 – Luke 7:24-50
December 8 – Luke 8:1-25
December 9 – Luke 8:26- 56
December 10 – Luke 9
December 11 – Luke 10
December 12 – Luke 11:1-36
December 13 – Luke 11:37-54
December 14 – Luke 12:1-34
December 15 – Luke 12:35-59
December 16 – Luke 13
December 17 – Luke 14
December 18 – Luke 15
December 19 – Luke 16:1-18
December 20 – Luke 16:19-31
December 21 – Luke 17
December 22 – Luke 18
December 23 – Luke 19
December 24 – Luke 20
December 25 – Luke 1:26-56, and Luke 2:1-20
December 26 – Luke 21
December 27 – Luke 22:1-38
December 28 – Luke 22:39-71
December 29 – Luke 23:1-25
December 30 – Luke 23:26-56
December 31 – Luke 24
May you be filled with great joy, and continue to worship Jesus.
Blessings in the New Year to you and your family!
Jeannie Blackmer is a wife and mother to three boys. She’s authored three books, contributed content to more than 20 books, and written articles for a variety of magazines. She loves her family, chocolate, scuba diving and salt. She also loves hearing others stories and believes we need to be real to experience real community.