By Marcelo Tolopilo
In the last two articles of The Lighthouse, we have unfolded Luke 10:38-42. In our succinct exploration of this text, we have looked at Martha’s distraction from Christ and Mary’s singular pursuit of Christ’s presence. In this edition, we want to briefly think about what principles in Mary’s example are worthy of imitation.
Certainly, her singular pursuit of Christ’s fellowship stands out immediately as the primary example we must follow, but how did Mary approach Christ? What are some principles in her approach to the Lord Jesus that we can identify and subsequently follow? Let’s read through the text and then highlight three observations that will help us cultivate our depth of fellowship with the Lord Jesus.
Now as they were traveling along, He entered a village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. She had a sister called Mary, who was seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to His word. But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.” But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:38-42).
The first principle I would like to point out is a simple observation that is nonetheless an essential prerequisite for deepening our intimacy with Christ:
1. Mary ceased from all her many activities and simply came to the Lord for His fellowship. I have no doubt there was a tremendous buzz of activity in Mary and Martha’s home as these dear ladies prepared for the company of the Lord, His men and quite possibly a handful of other friends Jesus had in Bethany. The “to do” list was assuredly long and detailed, and Martha “the keeper of the list” was devoted, too much so, to its conquest.
Martha, as I pointed out in a previous article, was quite distracted, literally “drawn away” from fellowship with Christ by her “much service.” The unfortunate reality recorded by this text is Martha was so engulfed with her work that she was simply too busy to fellowship with the Lord Jesus. Her service was noble at the outset (preparing her home for the Lord’s visit), yet somewhere down the line her “preparations” had become the eclipsing priority of her life – and not the Lord Jesus!
Mary, on the other hand, understood nothing was more important than meeting with Jesus and when He arrived in her home, she set aside her many responsibilities to dedicate her heart’s attention to the Master’s company. Mary recognized her absolute need to devote time to fellowship with Christ. This is a simple point, yet so easily set aside in the demanding stride of life.
Often when I counsel believers who feel dry in their spiritual journey it is due to their failure to prioritize fellowship with Jesus Christ. We get so busy with the race of living that we relegate any semblance of fellowship with Christ to dinner-time/bed-time prayers and Sunday morning meetings. Jesus longs for our fellowship often, even in the midst of our demanding schedules. It is critical that we look to Him early and often for His transforming fellowship. Secondly,
2. Mary displayed a teachable spirit, exemplified by her humble posture and attentive ear. She had a sister called Mary, who was seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to His words (verse 39). Mary took the lowly position of a disciple absorbing the life-giving words of the Lord Jesus. By contrast, Martha seemed to take a more self-willed and somewhat deafened approach. The term “came up” in verse forty means “to set upon” or “to stand upon” and can even be rendered “to confront.”
Martha rushed upon the Lord not to humbly hear His words, but to give Him her strong impressions wrapped up in a rhetorical question and an inflammatory demand, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.” Martha assumed a pontificating position and accused the Lord of not caring. Mary, by contrast, submitted herself to the Lord and readied herself to receive instruction.
When we approach our Savior’s company, we would do well to humble our hearts before Him, recognizing His Lordship over us and our need to be nourished by His proven and perfect words. This brings us to our third and final principle in Mary’s example of fellowship with Jesus.
3. Mary sought Christ through His word. This observation is easily lost to many, but critical in rendering this scripture useful in our lives. The seminal value of Mary’s example is that she sought the Lord’s fellowship through His words. “Mary was seated at the Lord’s feet, listening to His word.”
What made the Lord knowable was His instruction, so He came preaching and teaching. The method through which He made His person and mission known to Israel and to the world was His discourse. This is why in the gospel of Luke, Jesus testified, “I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, for I was sent for this purpose” (Luke 4:43), that is to preach, to make His words known to man so that men might know Him.
It is no different for us today. Jesus is not walking the shores of Galilee instructing the people, nor is He teaching in the courts of the temple or Judean synagogues, but He still speaks clearly and powerfully through the testimony of the Bible. We come to know Christ and fellowship with Christ by listening to His word which He has given us in His all-sufficient scriptures, “the word of Christ” (Colossians 3:16). Through the years I’ve learned that the depth of our intimacy with Christ is directly proportional to our understanding of Him through the Bible. To that end then, “Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you” (Colossians 3:16).
If you and I desire to deepen our fellowship with the Lord Jesus, then we must make time for Him, humbly recognize our need for Him and His instruction, and eagerly drink in His self-revelation, the scriptures. There is no other path to intimacy with the Savior. May the Lord draw you to His glorious, joyous presence!
But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.
(2 Peter 3:18)