Posted by: Walk.Build.Proclaim | June 11, 2013

Mary and Martha

The story of Mary and Martha in Luke’s Gospel (Luke 10.38-42) is a story that is very familiar to us. In fact, it is probably a story that we can all relate to on some level in our own family experiences.  There is company coming over for dinner. The house needs to be cleaned up, dinner needs to be made, the table needs to be set. Of course there is that one key piece of the meal that we need to run back to the store to get.  If everyone pitched in and did their “fair share,”  this dinner party would look effortless. There always seems to be someone that isn’t participating in the flurry of activity around them, as they are engaged in conversation with the newly arrived guests or distracted by something else.

This is the same scenario that Mary and Martha are facing. Martha is fervently giving directions to people as they are preparing for Jesus’ arrival at the sister house for dinner. Where is Mary? She is sitting at the feet of Jesus listening to what he has to say. When Martha tries to get Mary in trouble for sitting at Jesus’ feet and not helping with dinner preparations, what is Jesus’ response: “Martha, Martha, the Lord answered, you are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one.Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Why have I chosen these two women to get the “Red-Shoe” honor this week. Because each woman was doing what they felt needed to be done. Martha was trying to make sure that everything was perfect for her very important dinner guest. Often times the person organizing the meal or event is the one that is overlooked. While it may appear as though Martha was complaining about the lack of her sister’s help, she was also trying to make her guest feel welcome and have a nice meal ready upon his arrival.

Martha was a woman on a mission. NOTHING was going to stand in her way!

Martha was a woman on a mission. NOTHING was going to stand in her way!

Mary, on the other hand, was a much more relaxed hostess. She was engaging in conversation with their guests. Mary had complete confidence that her sister had everything under-control and thus felt that her place was to sit at Jesus’ feet. This is also an important aspect of entertaining guests, to make them feel comfortable and listened too.

Mary was much more of a soft-spoken gentle soul. She was content and comfortable sitting at Jesus' feet.   She was a gracious and understated hostess.

Mary was much more of a soft-spoken gentle soul. She was content and comfortable sitting at Jesus’ feet.
She was a gracious and understated hostess.

There are many lessons that anyone could walk away with from the Mary and Martha story. There have been a couple of different books written about this story, do you find yourself to be more like Mary, quiet, introspective or more like Martha – always doing?  We as women (men, too) should be encouraged to find the balance of Mary & Martha in our lives.  Next time you’re at a family event if you are more of a Mary, then try to lend an extra hand to the Martha’s.  If you are more of a Martha, try to find some of your inner Mary, and mingle with your guests. The fellowship is just as important if not more important than the meal. Always remember that BOTH of these women are Red-Shoe worthy!

Prayer: O God, heavenly Father, whose Son Jesus Christ enjoyed rest and Refreshment in the home of Mary and Martha of Bethany: Give us the will to love you, open our hearts to hear you, and strengthen our hands to serve you in others for his sake; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, now and for ever.



  1. My wife Stacey chose Martha as her confirmation name because she is the patron saint of cooks. I think that Martha sometimes gets a bad rap. While Christ does say that the contemplative life is the “better part,” the overall teaching is one of balance. I wrote a post on this called Martha, Martha, Martha

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Gary Neal Hansen

Theology. It's good for you.

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