“But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:42)
A few years ago, Dr. John MacArthur wrote a book entitled “Twelve Ordinary Men,” in which he gives a brief biographical sketch of the twelve men Jesus chose to be His apostles. The book is a very interesting read as MacArthur scours the scriptures looking for every detail he can find about their lives. The book saw such success that MacArthur was approached with the idea of writing another book in which he would choose twelve women from scripture and write how their lives were an important part of Bible history. This book has the title “Twelve Extraordinary Women.”
This year I settled on a theme for Mother’s Day in which I would examine the story of Mary and Martha found in Luke chapter 10. I did a lot of research into the subject reading from several different authors including Dr. MacArthur’s book. Since this is a very familiar Bible passage, you would expect many of the authors would have the same perspective on the story. This is often the case in reading commentary and we would expect it to be so since everything in the Bible has been preached over and over for centuries. However, MacArthur’s book has a little different flavor because it is meant to be biographical rather than straightforward exposition.
In the message today, I want to speak mostly on two areas that MacArthur emphasizes: the relationship between work and worship, and the need to focus intently upon Jesus. In the process, we will look at the personalities of Martha and Mary and how Jesus related to these two women that He regarded as close personal friends.
I am especially struck by Jesus comment in Luke 10:42 in which He says, “But one thing is needful…” There are various interpretations of this statement. Some take it to refer to the meal that Martha was preparing. Jesus says that He and his disciples do not need elaborate meals, but one course is good enough. I find this interpretation far beneath the profound implications of the passage. Others say the one thing needful is Christian piety. Still others say it is religion. I believe Jesus is speaking of His own words. The “one thing needful” is to listen to the teachings of Jesus. All else is secondary. There is nothing we should take more care to do than to listen to the words of Holy Scripture.
Remember, the context of this passage is an event that happened in the home of two women. This was not in a church building; this was not a Bible conference, or a women’s retreat. This was the home. In this home, listening to Jesus was more important than any work that needed to be done. We don’t expect Jesus to come physically to our homes, but this does not mean He doesn’t speak to us. He speaks through the pages of the Bible. The scriptures are God’s words to us and they are still “the one thing needful.”
How much is the Bible a part of your home? Are you too busy to listen to Jesus? Keeping a nice clean home, cooking meals, doing laundry, taking care of the children—all of this is important but none of it ranks higher than listening to Jesus. I encourage you to make the Bible central in your home. Then like Mary, you have chosen the good part that will never be taken away.
Pastor V. Mark Smith