Only One Thing Is Necessary?
Imagine a celebrity is in town and he’s staying at your house. Would you work to make things “just right?” Wouldn’t you try to make sure your house was clean and the food was perfect?
Jesus was in Bethany at the home of his friends, Mary, Martha, and Lazarus. Jesus was in the main room talking with the other guests. Martha was in the kitchen (or however they did things) preparing for the meal. Mary, her sister, was in with Jesus, just sitting and listening.
Like I probably would, Martha complained to Jesus. He was giving her best helper an excuse to take a break. Indirectly, Jesus was holding up progress according to Martha. She needed some help, but Mary was sitting at his feet.
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 10:41-42 NASB
What did he mean “only one thing is necessary” and why did he go on to say that “Mary has chosen the good part”? Cooking and making preparations are things that need to be done. People need to eat. Some things are optional and others are not. Jesus boldly states that only one thing is necessary. When that one thing is in place, everything else fits nicely.
Choosing What Can’t Be Taken Away
Could he mean that being with Jesus, or listening to him and learning from him was the only necessity in life? Mary has chosen the good part, the part that won’t be taken away from her. She spent time with Jesus and that can’t be taken away. Preparing the meal, serving others, while important, isn’t the most important thing. The most important thing is spending time with Jesus.
Meals still have to be prepared, and kitchens need to be cleaned. We can’t simply leave that work for someone else. Could it be that Jesus is talking about priorities, here? What’s most important, that the meal get prepared on time or that your sister gets to spend some time listening to Jesus? I wonder if Jesus would have said something different if Martha had the attitude of a humble servant. If she was serving so her sister could listen, would Jesus have responded differently?
When you work, who is it for? What is your work about? Are you there for you? Or are you there for the Lord, serving the people he brings across your path? Have you chosen the better thing, the one that can’t be taken away?
This is the 3rd post on the words “one thing” from Scripture. You can see all the posts here.