Luke 10:39-42 Meaning and Commentary

Luke 10:39-42 Meaning and Commentary

Luke 10:39-42

39“She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Luke 10:39-42 Meaning

In Luke 10:39-42, Jesus visits the home of Martha and Mary, two sisters who have different priorities when it comes to hosting Him. Martha is busy with all the preparations, while Mary sits at Jesus’ feet, listening to His teachings. Martha becomes overwhelmed with her tasks and complains to Jesus about Mary’s lack of help. Jesus responds by praising Mary for choosing the better thing, which is to prioritize spending time with Him.

Luke 10:39-42 Commentary and Explanation

In Luke 10:39-42, we encounter a profound scene where Jesus visits the home of Martha and Mary. As we look into this passage, we witness contrasting attitudes toward hospitality and discipleship, prompting us to reflect deeply on our own priorities in serving Christ.

Upon Jesus’ arrival, Martha immediately busies herself with serving, a noble act of hospitality reflective of her sincere desire to honor their esteemed guest. Her actions highlight the cultural emphasis on hospitality in that time. However, as Martha becomes absorbed in the tasks of hospitality, her sister Mary adopts a different posture. Rather than bustling about, Mary sits at the feet of Jesus, fully attentive to His teachings.

In Martha’s frustration, we may recognize our own tendencies to prioritize busyness over spiritual nourishment. Like Martha, we often find ourselves consumed by the demands of our daily lives, neglecting the essential need to sit at the feet of Jesus and listen to His words. Jesus gently admonishes Martha, reminding her that Mary has chosen what is better, emphasizing the value of spiritual sustenance over earthly duties.

These verses echoes themes found elsewhere in Scripture, such as in Matthew 6:33, where Jesus instructs us to seek first the kingdom of God. It underscores the importance of prioritizing our relationship with Christ above all else, trusting that everything else will fall into place when we do so. Additionally, it echoes the sentiment expressed in Psalm 46:10, urging us to “be still, and know that I am God,” highlighting the significance of quieting our hearts and minds to commune with our Creator.

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Furthermore, this passage invites us to examine our motives in serving Christ. While Martha’s actions stemmed from a desire to honor Jesus, her focus on external tasks led to distraction and anxiety. Conversely, Mary’s choice to prioritize intimacy with Jesus demonstrates a profound understanding of true discipleship. Her posture of humility and receptivity serves as a poignant example for us, challenging us to cultivate a similar disposition in our own walk with Christ.

As we contemplate the lessons embedded in this passage, let us heed Jesus’ gentle rebuke to Martha and embrace Mary’s example of wholehearted devotion. May we strive to strike a balance between our responsibilities in the world and our commitment to cultivating intimacy with our Savior. Let us not be so preoccupied with serving Jesus that we neglect the most important aspect of discipleship—being with Him.

Context of Luke 10:39-42

Prior to this encounter at Martha and Mary’s home, Jesus had sent out His disciples in pairs to proclaim the kingdom of God and heal the sick. He had given them authority and sent them ahead of Him to prepare the way for His ministry. As we read in Luke 10:17, the disciples returned full of joy, reporting their successes in Jesus’ name.

It is in this context that Jesus visits Martha and Mary. Martha’s response of busyness and distractions can be seen as a reflection of the overall busyness and excitement surrounding Jesus’ ministry. However, Jesus takes this opportunity to teach Martha (and us) about the importance of balancing our tasks with spending time in His presence.

Breaking Down the Key Parts of Luke 10:39-42

1. Martha welcomed Jesus into her house and was busy with preparations. (Luke 10:38) – Martha’s heart was in the right place, as she wanted to serve and honor Jesus with her hospitality.

2. Mary sat at Jesus’ feet, listening to His teachings. (Luke 10:39) – Mary recognized the significance of Jesus’ presence and desired to learn from Him.

3. Martha became distracted and overwhelmed by her tasks. (Luke 10:40) – Martha’s focus shifted from being present with Jesus to being consumed by her responsibilities.

4. Martha complained to Jesus about Mary’s lack of help. (Luke 10:40) – Martha’s frustration reveals her expectation for Mary to prioritize the same tasks she deemed important.

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5. Jesus praised Mary for choosing the better thing. (Luke 10:42) – Jesus commends Mary’s decision to prioritize spending time with Him and hearing His teachings.

Lessons From Luke 10:39-42

1. Prioritize Jesus: As Christians, we must prioritize spending time in the presence of Jesus. It is in His presence that we find nourishment for our souls, wisdom, and a renewed sense of purpose.

2. Balance service and devotion: While serving others is essential, we should never neglect our relationship with Jesus. It is crucial to strike a balance between our responsibilities and our time spent at His feet.

3. Listen and Learn: Mary’s posture of sitting at Jesus’ feet represents a heart that is open and receptive to His teachings. We must cultivate a teachable spirit, eagerly listening and learning from the wisdom and truths of God.

4. Avoid distractions: Martha’s busyness caused distractions and prevented her from fully experiencing the presence of Jesus. We must identify and eliminate the distractions that hinder us from drawing closer to Him.

Biblical Translations of Luke 10:39-42

Luke 10:39-42 King James Version (KJV)

“And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word. But 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. And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”

Luke 10:39-42 English Standard Version (ESV)

“Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.’ But the Lord answered her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.’”

Luke 10:39-42 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

“Now as they were traveling along, He entered a village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. She had a sister named 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 10:39-42 New Living Translation (NLT):

“Her sister, Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet, listening to what he taught. But Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. She came to Jesus and said, ‘Lord, doesn’t it seem unfair to you that my sister just sits here while I do all the work? Tell her to come and help me.’ But the Lord said to her, ‘My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.’”

Final Thoughts

The story of Martha and Mary reminds us to evaluate our priorities and ensure that Jesus remains at the center of our lives. Let us not be consumed by the busyness of the world, but instead, choose the better thing – to sit at Jesus’ feet, listening and learning from Him. As we do so, we will find peace, guidance, and a deeper intimacy with our Savior.

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