This story, only in Luke, is told in a few puzzling and powerful verses.
The sibling rivalry between Mary and Martha intrigues us to take sides.
The good housekeeper cleans up after the devoted follower who anoints Jesus’ feet with the family’s best oil. Martha doesn’t begrudge the oil—her sister enacts a profound ritual—but Mary could clean up! Instead Mary sits at the master’s feet, listening, while Martha, standing with her “to do” list, ignores his message and feels cast down.
Jesus muses, “Few things are needed—indeed only one.”
Martha remains unsatisfied with this great lesson Jesus gives her. One can almost hear
Martha’s defense. “If Mary helped, I too might have time to listen and think wise thoughts.”
Perhaps Jesus says, “Thank you for opening your home to me. You have already done the one thing that I needed from you. Lazarus and Mary are tired. Now is your time to be with me.”
Martha, addicted to her complaints, again ignores his gift of being with her! Truly Mary has chosen better.
Eleanor Johnson, Fenwick