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Martha’s Lesson

Pastor Jim Alblas

Pioneer Christian Reformed Church
3110 17 Mile Rd, Cedar Springs


In the last few days before Jesus went to the cross, one of the things He did was stop by the home of Mary and Martha. That visit provided a wonderful lesson for His two friends, particularly for Martha, and it’s a lesson that’s still helpful to us today. You can find the account of Jesus’ visit in Luke 10:38-42, but what follows is a retelling of that story from Martha’s perspective. As you read, imagine Martha is talking to you.

“I’m a little overwhelmed today. Has something ever hit you right between the eyes? I just experienced that. You probably heard Jesus was in town today. I invited Him to stay at my house for a while. I figured he could use a break from his travels. I thought it was the least I could do, after what he did for our brother Lazarus. So I invited Him in and I thought it would be nice to serve him a meal, too. Jesus would appreciate that. But it didn’t go so well. It didn’t go well because Mary, my sister, didn’t help with any of the preparations! I was trying to get all of this stuff together, to do something that would please Jesus, but I needed some help with it. And guess what she was doing? She was just sitting there. I couldn’t believe it. This wasn’t just peanut butter and jelly sandwiches; I was trying to make a good meal for Jesus and I had to do it all by myself!

I guess she was trying to be nice to Jesus, too, by listening to Him, but in my mind, I was thinking, ‘Come on Mary, what’s most important here? Would Jesus rather have a conversation, or a nice meal?’ You’d think she’d understand. You’d think I wouldn’t have to say anything, and that she’d naturally come and help. Jesus was always serving people; Jesus was always giving. He gave to our family. We could repay Him; we could say thanks. And, maybe part of me was trying to impress Jesus, too. I wanted to do something nice for him. But maybe I was trying to earn His favor, too. Is that so bad? But I couldn’t do all that alone… and Mary just sat there.
Well, I let Jesus know about it! I voiced my displeasure with her and I asked Jesus to tell her to help. As I look back, I can’t believe I ordered Him around like that, but I thought I was right. Hospitality was important! And while I didn’t say anything about my desire to impress Jesus, maybe I thought that was important, too.

But here’s the part that got to me. Jesus taught me what was really important. And I’ve been going over and over these words in my mind. Jesus said: “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

He didn’t say anything further, but I knew what He meant. He meant the conversation was more important. The meal wasn’t wrong, but the fact it kept me away from Jesus was wrong. Jesus didn’t need me to do all that work for him; he came to serve, not to be served. And I realized that if I was trying to impress Jesus, I didn’t need to do that either. He loved me, whether or not I had a meal for Him.
Now I’m not going to give up making meals for people or serving in other ways. Jesus did teach those things are important. I’ve come to realize that I shouldn’t serve to earn His favor; I should serve because I already have it. I’m so thankful that Jesus taught me that lesson today. It will stay with me forever.”
The Cedar Springs Ministerial Association invites you to the annual Good Friday Service on April 6, held this year at The Springs Church starting at 7 p.m. A dramatization of this very story of Martha, as well as two other biblical characters, will be part of this service where we remember the work that has been done for us.


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