Day 16 - March 3, 2018

Learning at the Feet of Jesus

Luke 10:39

“Mary…sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said” Luke 10:39, NIV

This is a familiar story, the one where Martha is preparing a dinner for her guest Jesus while Mary takes in his teachings (Luke 10:38-42). Martha’s preparations have distracted her (10:40) and she finds her tasks crowding out what is more important, namely learning from Jesus. Her numerous chores for preparing dinner led her to insist that Jesus instruct Mary to begin (resume?) helping her. Jesus mildly reprimands Martha for that request and replies, “There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:42, NLT). The praise of Mary doesn’t mean the meditative life is preferred over the life of service; rather in life—which is made up of numerous “mini” moments—we should always be willingly to listen to Jesus and submit to His will.

Mary’s position at Jesus’ feet identifies her as his disciple. Luke presents a somber reminder that Jesus’ way is one of total commitment to Him. The words “As Jesus and the disciples continued their way to Jerusalem,” (Luke 10:38, NLT) open our story and remind us that our Lord is on his way to his crucifixion (9:51). To be recognized as a disciple at this stage of Jesus’ ministry was to identify with what it cost to follow him. And in following him one must seek to learn all one can. Mary has discovered that in the busyness of everyday life we must take advantage of the times Jesus speaks to us. 

Martha is not chided because she is working hard but because she allowed her work to deafen her ears to the voice of Christ. Work can be one of the greatest ways to glorify God but not if it becomes what defines us. If anything, what this story tells us is that Mary is accustomed to hearing what Jesus must teach her. She chose this way, not simply in her thoughts but also in her actions. At this critical time in Jesus’ ministry she is deliberately seeking Jesus in the time she has been allotted. And what she has learned is that the best way to follow and remain committed to Christ is to learn from him in humility, open always to his teaching. This is a permanent life choice that will not and cannot be taken away. As we explore Mary’s grief in my next devotion we will see this decision pays dividends when life is dark and threatening. 

Dear Lord, please teach us to listen for you in midst of all the busyness of life, so that we don’t miss any of what you want us to learn. In Jesus’ Name, amen.
submitted by the Reverend Dr. Richard Menninger, Retired Andrew B. Martin Professor of Religion

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