Sermon — Pr. Tony Sikora — Martha and Mary learn a Thing or Two

Sermon Text: Luke 10:38-42
Sermon Sunday: July 21, Pentecost 9 (Proper 11)

Grace, mercy and peace be unto you from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.  AMEN!  Our text for this morning’s sermon (July 21) is taken from St. Luke’s gospel account the 10th chapter.

Beloved in the Lord,

Steadfast Sermons GraphicWherever Jesus manifests His presence, He is there for our good, our comfort and encouragement.  Thus with Jesus in our midst we Christians are given to worship, to sing and to pray, to rejoice and be glad, to listen and be forgiven, even eat and drink.   His presence is our joy and His absence our sorrow.

In our text this morning we hear of Jesus entering certain village.  Jesus has come to Bethany and He has come to preach.  For the sure and certain sign of His presence for our good is His Word. Where the Word of Jesus is given there is Jesus giving it.  Where there are preachers preaching and hearers hearing there is Jesus in the midst of them even if only two or three are there.

Jesus is in Bethany to preach and teach the gospel.  He is there for Martha and Mary, for you and me.  Wherever Jesus is there is Divine Service for there is God in the flesh serving His beloved people, easing their conflicted souls with His grace and encouraging His children in the hope of eternal life.  Thus Jesus is welcomed and received by Martha.  He is invited to her home, invited to eat and drink at her table.  But Jesus has other concerns, other matters to attend to.  He is not come to serve His belly with mean nor to slake His thirst with wine.  He has come to serve not be served, to give Himself as a ransom for many, for all, for Martha and Mary, you and me.

Jesus has come to Bethany this morning.  So also He has come to this place, and for the same reasons.  You and I we have the same needs, the same burdens, the same wants and desires, the same sins as those in our text.  We are human, sons of Adam and daughters of Eve. To find God is our restless quest – whether we know it or not – for the heart is ever restless until it finds its rest in the Lord.  Such a rest the Lord would give you and me this morning.  Such a rest He offers as He enters into our midst to speak His Word of Grace.  Will you listen? Will you believe?

Or will you be like Martha?  Martha is busy, very busy.  She is busy and burdened with many things, things she assumes her sister Mary ought to be helping her with.  But Martha is busy with the wrong things.  She is busy with the maidservant’s work, work that was to be done by others and not the Lady of the house.  Martha is very pious but her piety is misplaced.  She assumes Jesus is there for a meal and she must labor in service to Him.  Martha is wrong about Jesus’ presence, wrong about her own works, and wrong about her sister.  Martha has chosen the lesser things.

How often are we like Martha?  How often are we encouraged by others to be like Martha – you know, to do something for Jesus, to do what we can, do what’s in us, to give Him our best, even give Him our heart?  How often do we choose the lesser things in this world at the expense of the more needful things?

We must confess that we are all too easily distracted from the Lord’s words.  We are busy, very busy, sometimes even busy for the Lord.  We’re busy with our jobs, our families, our health care.  In our busy-ness we worry about these lesser things and give no heed to the more needful things.  Americans today worry more about paying their bills and their cholesterol levels than they do about they’re eternal destiny.    Worry leads to anxiety.  And as with Martha and Mary, anxiety often turns us against one another.

We’re busy like this because we’ve been deceived into believing that Jesus wants this busy –ness from us in our lives and in our worship.  False teachers have succeeded in getting Christians to believes that Jesus has come to be served, praised, exalted by us poor sinners, that we’re the ones with the work to do, ladders to climb, disciplines to master if we want to see God and live.  We’re the ones who need to “Just praise the Lord.”

It’s no wonder we’re restless and lonely and feeling like we’re living an unfulfilled life.  It’s no wonder we’re anxious and distracted with many things.  It’s no wonder we turn against our neighbor.  It’s no wonder we’re exhausted and many just want to give up for lack of joy in their lives.

Getting Jesus wrong Martha gets everything wrong, including her own sister.  Frustrated Martha goes to Jesus, she prays in hopes He’ll make everything right.  And by that I means she prays in the hopes that He’ll make her sister right.  Martha is looking for change but she’s looking for change in other people and not herself.

When we find ourselves living, thinking and believing as Martha did in our text we may also find ourselves longing for change. Change is what Jesus wants to work for us and for all people.  But the change needed first and foremost is the change within ourselves.  We must repent.

Jesus answers Martha’s prayer, but not the way she expected. He rebukes her. He rebukes us.  He calls for change, repentance, turning away from the lesser things and towards the more needful.  So this morning Jesus calls you to repent, to turn away from the many distractions that burden your heart and to lend your ears to His voice. He invites you to draw near with open ears and listen rather than work.

It is the Word of Jesus that is the more needful thing.  Without Jesus’ Word there is nothing for faith to cling to and nothing for love to respond to.  Without God’s Word both faith and life fade, wither, die. But the one hearing Christ’s Word hears also His heart.  Jesus gives His Word that He make known His heart to your heart.  It is His heart that is to be given and received – not yours.  Your heart is to be regenerated by the working of the Holy Spirit through the Word of Christ.  Jesus’ heart comes to your heart when He speaks His Word into and through your ears.  There is no inner voice, there is no special revelation, there is no warm fuzzy feeling for your to cling to.  NO, Jesus gives His Word. His Word is light and His doctrine is life.

This Word and this doctrine hold before you not only the person of Jesus, but also His Work.  He who hears the Word of Jesus hears also the Work of Jesus.  The work of Jesus is this:  “while we were still yet sinners Christ Jesus died.”  We were alienated from God and our neighbor, hostile in mind and doing evil deeds.  Yet,  Jesus has now reconciled [you] in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him.  Thus, before any good deeds were done on your part Christ Jesus died.  Before you could praise His name Christ Jesus died.  Before you could utter a word, Christ Jesus died.  Before you choose to believe, make your decision for Him at camp, before you could do or feel anything, Christ Jesus died.  Your salvation was bought with blood before you were born.  On account of this great and mighty work, this dying and rising again, Christ Jesus forgives you all your sins.  He who has the forgiveness of sins has eternal life and salvation. For where there is forgiveness of sins there is eternal life and salvation. They all go together because these gifts all come from the same source, the same person, the same God:  Jesus!  Jesus is all about the forgiveness of sins.  He also about the giving of Himself to Mary and to Martha, to you and to the world.  It is for this reason He has come and for this reason He preaches!

Thus, Mary is praised rather than rebuked.  She has chosen the more needful thing.  Her ears are open and her heart is blessed. Jesus has come and He is speaking to her and with her.  There is nothing more needful in this life than the Words and promises of Jesus.  NOTHING!  Receiving Jesus’ Words Mary is receiving Jesus Himself.  She welcomes Him as she surrenders her ears to His voice. And behold, Mary is at peace.  She rests at His feet receiving from Him Words of grace and mercy, love and Hope, peace and joy.  All that she needs she is given freely from the mouth of God.

You, beloved are to be like this young woman.  This is the purpose of Divine Service.  You are to be at the feet of Jesus, to be where Jesus is found preaching His Word, sharing His heart, forgiving sins and offering Himself for your salvation.  What could be more important than this?  NOTHING!  Nothing is more important than Jesus’ Word and doctrine.  Through these Jesus works His change in our hearts.  He starts with us as we are.  He speaks with us, forgives us, and then teaches us what is in accord with His heart for one another and for the world.  Hearing and believing His Word we are set at ease.  The burden of lesser things has been lifted.  We are able to rest.  Resting we are given holy food – flesh to eat and blood to drink. Jesus is constantly giving, giving more of Himself, giving in ways we would not expect nor would reason accept.  Yet faith clings to the word.  If Jesus said it, if Jesus gives it, if it comes from Jesus it must be good for me.  Again, this is the purpose of Divine Service.  Jesus has come to serve not to be served and to give His life as a ransom for many, for Martha and Mary, me and you and the whole world.

Beloved in the Lord, choosing the more needful thing Mary has what cannot be taken from her.  Works come and go.  Distractions abound but each gives way to others.  There are times for serving both God and our neighbor, but the more needful thing is time for the Word and works of Jesus when and where Jesus manifests Himself.  This Word endures and cannot be stolen away.  With such a Word working on and in your hearts faith is given to flourish within clinging to Christ alone for salvation and then to express itself through love as we are moved to serve one another.  Thus first finding our rest in God we are empowered for service toward our neighbor.  This is God’s Word for you today.  Will you listen? Will you believe?  God grant that you do. AMEN!


The peace of God which surpasses all understanding keep your heart and mind through faith in Christ Jesus.  AMEN!

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