In the Presence of Jesus
As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” (Luke 10:38–40)
Sweet Martha opens her home and takes under her care our Savior, receiving Him both kindly and hospitably. This is no small matter. There were no grocery stores or take-out restaurants. I am sure that she had to grind wheat to make bread, milk the cow or sheep or goat for milk, and slaughter the fatted calf or whatever for some meat. You get the idea here! Preparations for entertaining in that day were both difficult and time consuming!
Mary meanwhile, was soaking in the presence of Jesus! Having him in her home was too good to be true. She certainly was not going to be distracted by the details of a meal. Those details could wait, but she could not. Her focus was on finding fulfillment where need used to dwell.
Each one of us was created to fellowship with God. He is a “with” us God! It has been this way from the beginning. We find Him walking in the garden in Genesis calling out for Adam and Eve even after they had eaten the forbidden fruit:
Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the LORD God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?” (Genesis 3:8–9)
He still calls to His children, wayward or not. He delights in our being with Him. We often are caught up in doing things for him, but He simply wants to be with us. I think that is why we are called human “beings” instead of human “doings!”
Martha was busy! Her attention and concentration and focus were on the details of the preparations and the meal. She was preoccupied with her service to Jesus. How very easy it is for us to get distracted in the same way! Our motives may be as pure as refined gold, yet our focus is pulled away from the most important. The tyranny of the urgent creeps in and overtakes us!
In Come Away My Beloved, Frances J. Roberts states:
“I want your life, character, and personality to be as beautiful and lovely as I visualized you to be when I created you. Live close to Me, and let Me remold and re-create until I see in you the image of all I want you to be … I do not want you to work for Me under pressure and tension like a machine–striving to produce. I only want you to live with Me. I have waited for you to wear yourself out. I knew you would find it eventually–the secret of silence and rest, of solitude and of song.”
Silence, rest, solitude, and song sound great to me! They can be ours if we, like Mary, choose to be in God’s presence. What Martha was doing was important; it just wasn’t the most important.
Jesus actually modeled this for us in Matthew, prior to the Sermon on the Mount. He and His disciples were confronted with a vast sea of hurting humanity. The Bible tells us:
News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed, and he healed them. Large crowds from Galilee, the Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea and the region across the Jordan followed him. (Matthew 4:24–25)
Can you even imagine the mayhem? This was the disciple’s introduction into following Jesus. I am confident that they felt as helpless to help the hurting as they actually were! This is where we all begin! We are all helpless to help apart from the Spirit’s power within us. What follows is incredibly interesting! Jesus does the unexpected:
Now when he saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him, and he began to teach them. (Matthew 5:1–2)
He sat down and taught! He did not begin by doing the obvious, which would have been the physical healing; He began by doing the spiritual work! He gave everyone a chance to be in His presence. He was showing the disciples what they would need to accomplish the task ahead of them. A task that was monumental and far beyond their ability! Oh if we could only appropriate this into our own lives! I am convinced we would not be so frenzied and defeated. Jesus desires to work through us with His power, for His glory, for our good, and for the furtherance of His Kingdom. Our own strength will fail us; it is only through His power that we will be sustained.
This is why we must come to Him daily to renew our strength and to regain our focus. Jesus could have just started by healing the masses, yet He chose to give the people himself.
Take It to Heart
In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:6)