There was a guest in the house. An important guest. A beloved guest.
And, what do you do when a beloved friend comes over? You clean. You cook.
And that’s exactly what Martha did. She got the house ready. She provided food, refreshment, and hospitality.
And that’s all good and fine… except her sister was no help at all. She was out in the living room with Jesus. She was out listening to Jesus’ sermon, sitting at his feet.
And boy did that set Martha off.
This story is often interpreted as showing the two modes of discipleship: Mary showing us learning from Jesus, and Martha showing us how to serve like Jesus. And, there’s obviously something to this interpretation.
But, we also see Martha as an icon of something else: a person overwhelmed by distractions and anxiety.
“Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things.” Those words, spoken two thousand years ago, could just as well be spoken today. We are a world that seems to thrive off of being worried and distracted.
This story then, is about us. It’s about us being the kind of disciple that is focused only on what truly matters.
Mary is sitting at Jesus’ feet – which is how ancient students sat before their teachers. In the ancient world, teachers sat on a chair or stool to teach, and their students would sit on the floor in front of them. Part of the scandal of this story is that Mary is clearly showing her desire to be a student of Jesus’ at a time when women were rarely given the opportunity to be a student.