Anglican Morning Devotion for 27 October 2021 Anno Domini
A ministry of the Anglican Orthodox Communion of Churches Worldwide
“Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. 39And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word. 40But 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. 41And Jesus answered and said unto her, “Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: 42But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.” (LUKE 10:38-42)
Even the most dedicated of Christian people and, especially ministers, often get consumed in the mundane affairs of church life and omit the weightier matter of the purpose and Head of the Church – the Lord Jesus Christ. The modern church is burdened with five-year plans of men, building enlargement, finances, reaching new members at all cost without regard to the nurture of them in the Word, and a thousand other concerns of lesser interest of the Divine Mind.
You will recall the Rich Young Ruler who asked the wrong question: “And when he was gone forth into the way, there came one running, and kneeled to him, and asked him, Good Master, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” Mark 10:17. Of course, the mind of the young gentleman was upon the things that the world values and not the more profound things of Heaven. Nothing he could do would qualify the young man for eternal life. That matter is based upon faith and not works – ANY works. After revealing the young man’s assertions to have kept the Commandments to be untrue (for he had not kept the very First) our Lord said to him: “One thing thou lackest: go thy way, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, take up the cross, and follow me. And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions.” (Mark 10:21-22) Now if you have a DIFFERENT Bible such as the NIV, ESV, or NASB, you will miss the more profoundly important counsel of Christ in the above quoted text, “…. take up the cross.” Why would they presume to omit this phrase since it is so very important to the Christian walk?
The one thing that the Rich Young Ruler lacked was a recognition of Jesus Christ as Lord, and a willingness to surrender all else in following Him only.
Now, back to the introductory text concerning Mary and Martha at Bethany: Martha was forever busy in preparing her home and meals for her guests. She fretted about it all, and asked the Lord to rebuke Mary for not following her example. But Mary was not disposed to apply her attentions to anything else but the Lord when He was present with them. Mary was always at the feet of Jesus whether in tears or joy. Mary sat on this occasion at the feet of Jesus hanging on His every word. No man had ever thusly spoken. Mary’s concern was for the security of the soul while Martha emphasized the here and now of the worldly matters at hand. Martha was a driven worker – there was no sin in such work – but Mary had chosen the more important role as a listener whose spiritual health was of the utmost importance to her eternal soul.
You will remember outside the tomb of her brother, Lazarus, Mary again was found at the feet of Jesus weeping bitterly: “Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.” (John 11:32) Just days before His crucifixion, Mary again was at the feet of Jesus, this time to anoint Him for His coming burial: “Then took Mary a pound of ointment of spikenard, very costly, and anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped his feet with her hair: and the house was filled with the odour of the ointment. 4Then saith one of his disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, which should betray him, 5Why was not this ointment sold for three hundred pence, and given to the poor? 6This he said, not that he cared for the poor; but because he was a thief, and had the bag, and bare what was put therein. 7Then said Jesus, Let her alone: against the day of my burying hath she kept this. 8For the poor always ye have with you; but me ye have not always.” Though the Lord sat at meal with the company, nothing was more important than the service Mary performed at that moment. Unlike Martha who was busy with the mundane, Mary was careful about the divine.
Often very good and faithful Christian laity and clergy become focused so strongly on the work of maintaining the church building and grounds, seeing to the lesser matters of administration, etc., that they forget the weightier concerns of the Gospel. Our first duty as a Church is not the building in which we worship, but rather the One we worship in the building, or even under a brush arbor.