Mary’s Choice


The text for this sermon is Luke 10:38-42, the story of Mary and Martha hosting Jesus in their home.  Pastor Jim Kniseley presented this sermon at Resurrection on July 18, 2010, the Eighth Sunday after Pentecost.


Our VBS kids are used to playing “I Spy.”  Let’s do it again to get us thinking:

·         A woman who loves Jesus

·         A woman who wants to listen to Jesus

·         A woman who is willing to make time in her busy schedule for God

·         A Woman who cares less about what others think and more about what

Jesus thinks


The answer of course is “Mary” and her picture is on the front of today’s bulletin.  We see two women, the sisters Martha and Mary, and we see Jesus.  Martha is doing her work and Mary is sitting at the feet of Jesus.


Some of us have heard this story numerous times.  I hope all of us can learn something new today that will help us in our spiritual growth as followers of Jesus.


This true story, it’s not a parable, is a reminder that Jesus is not afraid to bust through society’s norms.  In Jesus’ day it was expected that women  worked in the kitchen and did all the household chores.  They did not sit at the feet of teachers and engage in spiritual and theological conversation with men.  Martha understands this expectation very clearly.  It is Mary who dares to cross the boundary and do what was supposed to be done only by men.  And here’s the kicker:  Jesus gives his approval.  He tells Martha that her sister has chosen the better way.


Many of us here feel some heart-burn when we hear this story.  We identify with Martha because that’s how we’ve been brought up.  Stay busy, use your gifts, fulfill your responsibilities, don’t be lazy, do your part.  I’d like to think that if we could have Jesus and Martha and Mary here with us today and ask them some questions, we’d find that Jesus would have say that each needed to have a little more of the other in them.  Mary probably needed to do some more work and Martha probably needed to slow down more and listen.


We have Martha’s and Mary’s here at Resurrection.  You can imagine some of the excuses I’ve heard about why someone can’t attend worship on Sundays:


·         That’s our family time

·         I do lawn work on Sunday mornings

·         We go to brunch

·         I take off going to church in the summer



I much prefer these reasons some of you have given us for why you do make time for worship on Sundays:


·         It’s our way of honoring God

·         We make time to give thanks to God

·         It starts the week our right

·         It is important for us to be with the family of faith

·         We want to obey the 3rd commandment about keeping the Sabbath

·         It makes me feel good


Child psychologists and educators tell us how important the first years of life are for learning.  I know how this applies to our faith life too.  It is important that we instill in our children at a very young age the love of Jesus.  We promise to do so at their baptism and we fulfill this by bringing them to church to be with God’s people in worship and learning.  Some have said to me: but little children don’t get anything out of sermons and much of the worship service.  Here is where the role of parents comes in: children seem to absorb much simply through observation and being.  If coming to church and singing and praying are important to mom and dad and the kids see it, it becomes important to them too.  If bringing your children to Vacation Bible School as one of the ways to learn about Jesus is important to parents, it becomes important to the children too.


Did you notice that the end of the story about Martha and Mary seems to not have an ending?  We do not know if Martha decided to let her work go and sit down and listen to Jesus or not.  What do you think she did?


Maybe the key question for all of us today that comes out of this story is this:


What if saying yes to the kingdom of God means saying no to the world?  Do I want to be a good man or a good woman in the eyes of this world, or a better one in the eyes of Jesus?


Let me end this sermon by getting you involved.  The kids seemed to like it when Bwana Pastor Jim and his trusty helper Bib Courtney did a Rap and Cheer.  When I point at you, I want you to shout out “I’ll follow Jesus.”


·         Here we are at RLC                                                             “I’ll follow Jesus”

·         Read God’s word in the Holy Bible                                  “I’ll follow Jesus”

·         Heard the Story of Martha and Mary                                “I’ll follow Jesus”

·         Listened to Martha’s Complaint about Mary                   “I’ll follow Jesus”

·         Heard Jesus say “she’s chosen the better way”                        “I’ll follow Jesus”

·         Today, Dear Friends, let’s do the same                           “I’ll follow Jesus”

·         And All God’s People Said                                                            “Amen”