20 Norman Spencer Dr
Auckland 2104, NZ

Story of Martha and Mary

Rev Daniel Xi An Poon

Sunday, 2nd July 2023

A lot of times, when we face our everyday life, we will feel tired, and we will grow weary. No matter if it’s our work, our responsibilities, or the things we plan to do. We feel like we have done so much, but nobody sees it, and nobody recognises it. Slowly we feel tired, we want to give up, and we even want to run away. Today, praise God for His wonderful message in Luke 10:38-42. It’s a message talking to all of us, because we will all face crossroads in life, in our relationships with others, in our workplace, in our families, in our finance, and in our future. This message is a great gospel for us this morning. Luke 10:38-42 talks about two special women, and let us have a heart of understanding, a sound mind, attentive ears, and alertness. Let the story of the two sisters give us answers to life. Let us pray together.

Luke 10:38-42

38 Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.” 41 And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. 42 But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”

Many Things Many Disturbance 事情多煩累多

At the beginning of the story, we are told that Jesus went into a village with His beloved disciples. There were so many women in the village, but Jesus chose this woman’s house to stay in. This woman was well-known in the village and Jesus also knew her. Jesus came to her house, her name was Martha. Martha invited Jesus into her own house, she was an important person in her household. In verse 39, we also learnt that Martha had a sister, and her name was Mary. Mary was sitting at Jesus’ feet and listening to His words. Martha was doing a lot of things; she was diligent, and she worked hard. But here the Bible tells us that she was distracted with much serving. Marth’s heart was disturbed and troubled. A lot of times, we also do a lot of things diligently, we work so hard, and we don’t rest. We even believe that we do everything for Jesus, but our hearts are troubled and disturbed.

Self-Pity and Controlling 自憐自怨操控人

Not only Martha herself was busy, but she also told Jesus to send Mary to help. Martha was the one inviting Jesus to her house in the first place, because she knew the blessings Jesus could bring to her. But when she became busy, she started to complain. Martha complained to Jesus about her sister not helping her. What is more? Martha tried to control Jesus because she told Jesus to send Mary to help. This is also like a lot of us. We work hard for our family, our work, our society, our church, our city, and our nation. We do so many things and we think what we are doing are good things for everyone. But slowly we have complaints. We start to have little dramas playing inside our head: ‘Why am I the only one working?’ ‘Why is nobody helping me?’ ‘Why is nobody recognising me?’ Then we will try to control God, we tell God to send people to help us.

Align with God and Receive Blessings 與神對齊得福分

The Bible teaches us to look at things differently. We must know our inner person, that when we are in a ‘doing’ mode, the more things we have to do, there will be more troubles for us. Because when we focus on ‘doing’ things, we only see the never-ending list of things we must do, and we will become tired. When we are tired, we will build up negative emotions, and these emotions will overtake us. When we align our everyday lives with the things we want to do, we will start to have complaints and we will also grow self-pity. When we feel sorry for ourselves, we will then try to control God. Because we want to be understood, we want to be heard, and we want to be seen. Jesus taught us an important lesson in how He responded to Marth in verses 41-42, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”

Why did Jesus call Martha’s name twice? Because what Jesus was going to say was important. He wanted to get Martha’s attention. Also the name ‘Marth’ means ‘hostess’ and Jesus called Martha twice to remind her of her identity. Jesus recognised Martha’s identity as a hostess, not a maid servant. Jesus knew Martha’s heart, He said, “you are worried and troubled about many things.” Jesus was reminding Martha that she could have asked other people to do the things she had to do because she was the hostess, she had the authority. But we can see that Martha didn’t exercise her authority and was trapped in all the things she had to do.

We are often like Martha, we align our daily life with the things we have to do, but we don’t align our lives with our identity, and we don’t align ourselves with God. Jesus said, “Mary has chosen that good part” which was to align with Jesus. Dear brothers and sisters, we can see a big contrast here, Martha used her willpower to lead her body and actions, but Mary first align with Jesus. Martha invited Jesus to her house, she wanted the blessings Jesus could bring to her and she wanted to make Jesus happy. She had so many ‘wants’ but she was still using her own willpower. She ended up feeling tired. On the other hand, Mary chose the good part, to first align with Jesus, to align with God, she chose to see God first and not the things to do. It’s so easy for us to see the problems and try to solve the problems straight away. I am not saying that we should not solve the problems, but we should first align with God before everything else.

Psalm 103:8-9 says, “The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in mercy. He will not always strive with us, nor will He keep His anger forever.”

Why do we want to solve problems straight away and why do we want to complete the things we need to do straight away? Because we don’t want to fully rely on God, we want to follow our own schedule. We even think that we should not bother God on small things. But at the end we will feel tired.

Psalm 103:11-13 says, “For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us. As a father pities his children, so the Lord pities those who fear Him.”

God is merciful and gracious; He never gets angry about us not doing things fast enough. But in the Bible, it records how God was angry when people were not willing to wait upon Him. King Saul was a good example; he was worried about how the people think and did not wait for the instructions of God. And we come to know that his throne was later given to King David.

We are used to let our willpower pushing us to make decisions. But the Bible tells us to first let our spirit align with the Spirit of God, let God guide us to move forward, for He has mercy for those who humbly seek Him. Abraham Lincoln, the 16th president of the United States, once said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” If we want to make sure something is done well, it’s never about how quickly we get to it, but about our preparation beforehand. There is also a famous Chinese saying, “If a worker wants to do a good job, he must first sharpen his tools.”

Why do we grow tired? Why do we worry? Why do we get angry? Why do we have little dramas inside our head? Because we are unwilling to prepare ourselves by relying on God. We want to get everything done by relying on ourselves. If we continue to rely on ourselves, we will also be the ones who suffer at the end. God is telling us today to align with Him, this is the easiest way, and the greatest blessing.

There have been many different stages in my life when I tried to breakthrough in my environment. For example, I tried to do a lot of things to grow the number of people in our church and to transform the lives of our brothers and sisters. But a lot of time, I feel discouraged when I don’t see the results. This time when Pastor Chow and Shimu Chow came to New Zealand with the mission team, I learnt one very important thing from them, no matter what we do, we must first align with God. If we don’t align with God, then everything will just be a ministry. Also, when we don’t fully rely on God, then we will easily blame others and see the problems of others.

When we rely on God, He will work for the good for us. But God’s timing is not our timing, do we have the faith to wait upon Him just like how Abraham waited on God for the promised son, Isaac? In the past few weeks, I have been spending a lot of time praying and waiting on God. Everyday God will give me blessings and the strength to face all the situations. So no matter what happens, I will be able to face it with peace and joy.

Today I also want to impart this blessing to all of you, I want to serve anyone here, who feels tired, angry, wanting to give up, or wanting to run away. If you start to lose passion and peace in your family, in your workplace, in the church, or in relationship with others, the Holy Spirit wants to talk to you today. Let us first align with God and receive the best blessing He is to give to us.