The Only Necessary Thing
The last five verses of Luke 10 record a visit Jesus and his disciples paid to the house of Martha and her sister Mary. In these five short verses, Jesus declared that Mary has found the only thing worth being concerned about.
“As Jesus and the disciples continued on their way to Jerusalem, they came to a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. 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.’”
There is little variation in translation of the last verse; other translations say, “But only one thing is needed or necessary.” The original Greek suggests that Jesus is speaking first of material things when he says things or details in referring to what Martha is worrying about. But, when he refers to the one “thing” that is needed or worth being concerned about, it is a reference to a spiritual thing as opposed to a physical or material thing.
As verse 40 points out, Martha was distracted by the big dinner she was preparing. What are the big dinners in your life? What is distracting you from sitting at the feet of Jesus and listening to what he has to say?
It can also be understood that Jesus is referring to the meal Martha was preparing. In fact, some of the earliest translations focused on the meal, that Jesus was being quite literal in telling Martha that he and his disciples didn’t need a lot of food. There was no need for the fuss over a big meal. This is echoed in the Scriptures: God doesn’t want our sacrifices or burnt offerings, there’s no need to fuss over trying to prepare a huge meal for him.
"I want you to show love, not offer sacrifices. I want you to know me more than I want burnt offerings." (Hosea 6:6)
“'What makes you think I want all your sacrifices?' says the Lord." (Isaiah 1:11)
"You do not desire a sacrifice, or I would offer one. You do not want a burnt offering." (Psalm 51:16)
Mary was showing Jesus her love; she was focused on sitting at his feet and listening to him. Martha was distracted. God wants our love; He wants us to know Him. He desires for us to sit at his feet and learn, to grow in relationship with him. This is the only necessary thing. Mary discovered it. Have you?
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.