July 21, 2019: What We Need Most

Sixth Sunday after Pentecost

In Jesus’ encounter with the two sisters in Luke 10:38–42, it’s easy to sympathize with Martha, isn’t it? When Jesus accepts her dinner invitation, we picture Martha working like crazy. We see her setting the fine china, slaving in the kitchen, lighting the dinner candles. But while Martha runs back and forth, sister Mary just sits there, listening intently to Jesus, not lifting a finger to help. Is it any wonder Martha feels frustrated?

But when Martha asks Jesus to call Mary to task, he comes to Mary’s defense instead, saying “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.”

Poor Martha! By opening her home to Jesus—doing her Martha Stewart best to get every detail just right—isn’t she simply serving Jesus? Aren’t we all called to serve Jesus? Isn’t this a basic component of Christian discipleship, using our gifts and talents to serve our Lord?

Dedicated service is an important part of following Jesus. But here Jesus seems to suggest that it’s not the first priority. Even more than Jesus wants our service, Jesus wants our friendship. He wants time with us—time when we give him our undistracted attention, our listening ear, our open heart, our honest selves. This is the “better” part . . . the part we need most. Even more than our deeds, Jesus wants us.

When did you last take time just to “be” with Jesus? When did you last step away from life’s busyness and distractions, and offer Jesus the gift of your undivided attention, your fully present self? Do you have such times factored into your daily routine, your weekly schedule? Are they a priority?

Serving Jesus is important! But may our service for Jesus never distract us from spending time with Jesus. This, according to Jesus, is the “better part” . . . what we need most.

David Geyer, pastor, College Hill Moravian Church
Bethlehem, Pennsylvania