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by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached on Lord’s Day Evening, May 13, 2007
at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles

“Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village” (Luke 10:38a).

“As they went” – that is, Jesus and His Disciples. “They entered into a certain village” – that is, Bethany (cf. John 11:18). As Jesus and His Disciples travelled toward Jerusalem they came to Bethany, which is about 2½ miles from Jerusalem, near the Mount of Olives.

“And a certain woman named Martha received him into her house” (Luke 10:38b).

Martha seems to have owned the house. Probably she was a widow who had inherited the house from her husband at his death. Her brother Lazarus and younger sister Mary lived with her. Martha was in charge of the house, which is why she worked so hard preparing the meal for Jesus and His Disciples.

“And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus' feet, and heard his word” (Luke 10:39).

Martha’s younger sister Mary “sat at Jesus’ feet.” That was the ancient way people learned. They sat at the feet of their teachers. When it says that Mary sat at Jesus’ feet, it means that she was His disciple, that she listened and learned from Him. While Mary listened to Jesus, Martha was busy preparing the meal.

“But Martha was cumbered [distracted] about much serving [with all her preparations], 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”(Luke 10:40).

Martha was cumbered, that is distracted, over-occupied, with the great meal she was preparing for Jesus and the Disciples. This does not mean she was a bad person. Not at all. It was courageous of her to be associated with Jesus at a time when the authorities were already planning to kill Him. She was also a caring person. She wanted to give Jesus the best meal possible. She came to Jesus and complained to Him that she needed Mary to help her.

“And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful [worried] and troubled [upset] about many things: But one thing is needful [only one thing is needed]”
      (Luke 10:41-42a).

Dr. Ryrie says this means, “One simple dish for the meal is all that is necessary, rather than the elaborate preparations Martha had made” (The Ryrie Study Bible). I think Dr. Ryrie has a point. I can’t imagine Jesus caring much about an elaborate, fancy meal!

“But one thing is needful [needed]: and Mary hath chosen that good part [what is better], which shall not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:42).

This must be a short sermon, for the sake of time. But I believe there are at least two main lessons in it.

First, those of us who have already been converted should be careful to balance the time we spend in serving Christ, and the time we spend in Bible reading and prayer. You may be working hard for Christ in the church, but you must not let this pull you away from daily Bible reading, meditation and private prayer. If we do not pray in private our work in the church becomes dry and powerless. On the other hand, if we do little work for Christ, our religion becomes dead. We must come aside, and take time with Jesus, as Mary did – and then go to work for Him.

Second, there is a word for you that are not yet converted. Jesus said,

“But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part [Mary has chosen what is better], which shall not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:42).

The “one thing” that is “needed” or “needful” is to come to Jesus, and sit figuratively at His feet – the very thing that sister Mary did! Come to Christ and the blessing of salvation “shall not be taken away from” you – any more than it could be taken away from Mary!

Jesus died to pay the price of your sin. He rose from the dead to give you life. His Blood will wash away the stain of every sin if you will come to Him as Mary did. May you do so very soon! Amen.

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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Luke 10:38-42.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Tell Mother I’ll Be There” (by Charles M. Fillmore, 1860-1952).