Sermon Outline On Luke 10:38-42
Jesus was on His way to Jerusalem and he had stopped in Bethany at the home of Mary, Martha and Lazarus. Bethany was only a few miles walk from Jerusalem but far enough away to enjoy some peace and quiet with his friends. Now Martha was doing what all good hosts do. She wanted Jesus to be comfortable and well fed during His stay so she was busy playing out her role as a host and a woman and preparing the meal for the evening. The problem? She had no help. Her sister Mary was only to be found sitting at the feet of Jesus just as if she was one of the men! Who did she think she was sitting there with the men, learning Jesus teachings and not helping her! Notice that the author says that Martha was distracted by her tasks. It wasn’t that her sister wasn’t helping, or the commotion of the men talking that really bothered her it was the distraction of the tasks. I think deep-down Martha wanted to be sitting at the feet of Jesus also hearing his stories and teachings but she was trying to fulfill the expected role of the woman that day by trying to prepare a meal but the task was distracting her.
She tried to blame Mary for her frustration and even tried to get Jesus to side with her by asking Jesus to send Mary in to help her. The truth is Martha was jealous but conflicted about what she should do.
Jesus simply said (v. 41-42), ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her’. Dinners come and dinners go but at that moment in time the best thing for anyone there was to receive the Bread of Life through Jesus’ teachings. Martha needed to shed the worries of societies roles and expectations and instead to come and relax and learn with Mary and Jesus and the others. Mary had chosen the greater part and that part was not society, not expectations but instead to be with Jesus to listen and to learn.
The truth is we should not really read this passage without the story before it. It is the story of the Good Samaritan. Let us read versus 29-37. Once again we see in this story roles and expectations. A man had been robbed and beaten and stripped and left for dead. Society said if you should find someone like this he was considered unclean. So, along came a Priest and he saw this man. He knew he had to be unclean because of the blood and he did not want to be contaminated and be unable to go into the Temple so he went to the other side. After all, wasn’t his job at the Temple for all of the people more important then this one life?
Second, a Levite came along. One of the workers of the Temple. A Levite never went into the Holy of Holies like the priest but he knew the teachings and it was best for him to stay away also.
Finally, along came a Samaritan. One that the Jews despised because they did not follow all of their laws even though they believed in God. The Samaritan had compassion. He did not worry about the hurt man’s nationality or beliefs. He did not worry about whether or not the man could repay him. He simply helped a man who was in need of help. So he treated his wounds and took him into town. We do not know if he could not stay to care for him because he was a Samaritan or if he had other business, but it didn’t matter. Because, the Samaritan paid the innkeeper to care for him and that he would pay him more upon his return if it was needed.
This man ignored societies rules, the rules of the Temple and priests and simply helped the man. This man was the neighbor to the man in need even though he knew nothing about him. Not even his name. The Samaritan chose the greater part.
We have two paradoxical stories. One is a story about seemingly doing nothing but sitting and listening. The other is a story about action and being involved. Both stories protest against the rules set by society and the roles these two people played. This story tells us how societies rules can bring great injustices if we only look a them and not who God calls us to be. Both stories are who God calls us to be. To love God with all of one’s heart and one’s neighbor as oneself means that every now and then we must reject society’s rules in favor of following God’s Kingdom in our lives.
There are times we are called to sit and be still and hear God’s Word being spoken to us. And, there are times that we are called into action even if that action makes us uncomfortable. If we ask Jesus which person we are to be, the Good Samaritan or Mary, the answer would be yes to both. And, we need to remember that the answer may not always be defined in the way we think it should be defined. We need to listen for God’s answer.