Are You a Martha or a Mary?
Junior Level

In today’s lesson we will learn about two women in the Bible who interacted with Jesus while He was walking upon the earth.  We are all created differently and unique by God.  No two people are exactly the same and that is a very wonderful thing.  God is the most wonderful artist.  We are not to compare ourselves to anyone else because God will never help you be anyone else but who He created you to be.  As we go along learning about these two women, I ask you to open your hearts and minds and notice their characteristics and think of your own then apply the lesson that Christ is teaching here to your own life and decide where you are on your walk with the Lord.  God Bless You.

Handout: Are You a Martha or a Mary?
Teacher's Guide: Are You a Martha or a Mary?

We will begin this lesson in God’s word in the book of Luke chapter 10.


Luke 10:38-42

38Now it came to pass, as they went, that He entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received Him into her house.

 39And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus' feet, and heard His word.

 40But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to Him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me.

 41And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things:

 42But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.

By reading these verses we can learn a lot about these two sisters.  Many people read these passages and they tend to be down on Martha or think that Christ preferred Mary.  If you have heard it taught that way before or had that thinking, I ask you today to just put that out of your mind and let’s see Martha in a bit of a different light today.  Who was she? 


Getting to know Martha


We see in verse 38 of this chapter that Martha had opened up her home and received Jesus.  In chapter 40 it tells us that she was cumbered about much serving.  That word cumbered in the Greek translation is perispao which means distracted.  I believe Martha was one who was a very chaste keeper of her home.  She made sure it was very neat and clean.  I believe she was a woman of order and she wanted things to go perfectly when she had guests.  She made sure they were comfortable and well taken care of.  There is a lot to be said about that.  She was not a bad person; she was willing to serve and to do what she needed to do for the others that were there in her home making sure they felt welcome.  Here she has the Lord in her home, serving Him a meal.  What would you do, if you knew the Lord was coming to your house for dinner tonight?  Most of us would be like Martha, so excited but also in a bit of a panic trying to get things perfect for Him wouldn’t we.  We would want to serve the best food and make sure He was comfortable.  We would want the house to be spotless even those places that are not visible, under the rug, in the corners because it’s not just any guest, it’s Jesus!  How easy would it be to be distracted with much serving? 


Getting to know Mary


There is only one sentence about Mary in these particular verses.  Verse 39

 39And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus' feet, and heard His word.

Notice that the scripture says she was CALLED Mary.  In verse 38 when God’s word is telling us about Martha, it says that she was NAMED Martha.  Why do you suppose that in God’s word it says Mary was called Mary and not named Mary?  God’s word is amazing and we know that all scripture is God breathed.  Many times He will word things in a way that we can miss important lessons.  It is amazing artistry the way God gave His word.  It is a beautiful tapestry of words woven together to teach us. 

While you are wondering why Mary is called Mary instead of named Mary, let me ask another question.  Why was she at the feet of Jesus instead of helping her sister?  The Bible does not tell us for certain but let’s explore this for a moment.  Let’s think about what the word Mary means.  As a name Mary is related to the Old Testament Miriam from the root word Mara which means bitterness.  Where have we seen this before?  In the book of Ruth chapter 1 verse 20 we have a woman named Naomi who has just left her home with her family because of famine in the land.  Then her husband and both of her sons die.  She is left alone with her two daughters in law.  Naomi then tells them to CALL her Mara because of bitterness.

Ruth 1:20 “And she said unto them, Call me not Naomi, call me Mara: for the Almighty hath dealt very bitterly with me.”

Could it have been that Mary was Called Mary instead of named Mary due to circumstances in her life that had left her in desperation, perhaps the death of a spouse or a child?  There are many circumstances which can leave us in desperation.  Could it be that is why when she was around Jesus, she was always found at His feet?  John 11:32 Mary is found at the feet of Jesus.  John 12:3, again she is found at His feet.    Sometimes desperation can be the most wonderful gift because when in desperation we are driven to bow down at the feet of Jesus where we can find healing for our broken hearts!   Praise You Lord! 

Life happens.  It can knock us around and it can beat us down.  At the feet of Jesus is where we find healing for our broken hearts.  I think Mary knew this.  She was in love with her Savior and she knew that at His feet is where she would find comfort and refuge and that is why she stayed at His feet!

Martha, she was serving God too.  She was doing those things which needed to be done.  She was busy for the Lord.  Can you relate to that?  She was working hard to serve Him.  She was so busy serving Him that she passing up deep relationship with Him.  We can do that sometimes can’t we?  Sometimes we can get so busy doing work for the Lord that we miss Him.  Doing God’s work is a wonderful thing and it is very needful, but we can’t get so distracted and overwhelmed with it so much that we forget the important part.  We must not forget that at His feet is where we find strength to go on and be effective for His glory. 

Martha saw her sister just sitting at the Master’s feet and soaking up His words.  She was upset that Mary was not helping!  She went to Jesus about this.

 40But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to Him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me.

Martha feels alone, and she doesn’t understand why it is ok to Jesus that she is working so hard to serve Him and Mary is just sitting there.  She said Lord, don’t you care?  Does it even matter to You that I’m working so hard alone?   Don’t You care that I’m doing my best to serve You while she is just sitting?  Have you ever wondered those things?  Perhaps you are going through a hard time and it seems as if God isn’t listening to your prayers and you find yourself wondering if you or the things you worry about even matter to Him?  Yes, you do matter and it is good that you are serving Him.  It was good that Martha was serving Him with care.  However, her care had turned into a distraction and anxiety.  Let’s look again at how Jesus responded to her. 

 41And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: 42But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.

I imagine Jesus just looking straight into her eyes and maybe a slight smile on His face as He said it.  Martha, Martha you are careful and troubled.  The word careful used here in this passage of scripture in the Greek is merimnaō which means to be anxious.  Martha was asking Jesus if He cares, as in tender care, about her efforts of trying to care for Him.  He said Martha your care has turned into anxiety.  You’re so busy trying to serve me that you have become distracted from what is important and your care has anxiety driven.  Has your service and activities become a distraction?   Has your care become anxiety driven?  We are told to care but when we slide into anxious care that part of our care has become sin.

Philippians 4:6 “ 6Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.”

Again word careful used here in the Greek is merimnaō or anxious.  Yes there are things that need to be done.  There is work that we must do.  God’s word tells us in James 1:22 “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.” However, we must not get so busy that we get distracted from what is really important and that is intimacy and relationship with Christ.   Jesus said,

Luke 10:42 “42But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”

Dear Martha, your service is good, but the important part is our relationship.  That is the thing that can never be taken away from you.  It will last forever.  It is what will make you strong so that you can do what I would have you to do.  At my feet listening to my word is where you will find my tender care for your heart and your mind.  Let me heal your pain, tell me about your anxieties, tell me the things are you are concerned with.  Connect with me and learn of me.  Let me hold you close to my heart and grow there.  You can mature in faith at my feet Dear Martha so that your service for me will be more effective.  At my feet is where you will find my tender care that will cure your anxiety.

1 Peter 5:6-7 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that He may exhalt you in due time: Casting all your care (merimna; anxiety) upon Him; for He careth (tenderly) for you.

Beloved, I ask you to open your hearts and minds today and hear those words from the Lord to you personally.  Yes serve Him and do the work He has called you to do, but be wise and understand that at His feet we find strength to do that work.  Relationship and intimacy with Jesus is vital.  Without it we are just going through the motions.  We are just living in religion not relationship.  God wants relationship with His children otherwise He would not have become our Father when we are born into His family! 

Romans 8:16 “The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God.”

God wants interaction and intimacy with us as His children.  He is Father to us!  That is the most amazing gift.  Let us not become so distracted with everyday life that we forget that.  We only have a short time on this earth.  Let’s be wise and live skillfully and invest in those things which really matter and that will last forever.  We can leave behind a legacy that will bring glory and honor to our Father so that others will be drawn to Him.  Let us choose that good part that shall never be taken away.  God Bless you all.

Dear Heavenly Father,

We bow before You today, with thanksgiving in our hearts to You for who You are, and what You do.  We will proclaim it forever that there is none like You nor will there ever be.  Lord thank You for being Father to us and for loving us that much.  Help us today to serve You Lord but not to be distracted with things so much that they become a source of worry and anxiety to us.  Help us to stay daily at Your feet so that we may grow in grace and in faith.  Teach us about You so that we will know who You really are.  Help us to draw closer to You because we know that You will draw closer to us when we do.  We love You Lord and we ask for strength and more intimacy with You.  We ask that You keep us in Your favor and Your grace and help this ministry to reach many with Your truth and Your love so that Your name will be lifted up and glorified.  We love You Lord and thank You for the many blessings You give us everyday.  In Jesus name we pray.  Amen.

September 30, 2018