In which Jesus takes sides

by Craig on February 7, 2012


One way and the toilet paper is safe.
The other way it gets shredded…
and wanders room to room,
falling prey to the claws of Laska the Love Kitty.

So I’m wondering…
Who was right in Luke 10…
Mary, Martha, or both?

Mary comes off as the contemplative who would rather sit at the feet of Jesus then do dishes. Martha seems every bit the typical type A. I identify with the contemplative.

Now, I’m normally one for digging deep into all the nuances of a story. But this time I’m just going to read the story and see what hits me. Sometimes taking the “study every detail of the text” approach misses the forest for the trees.

I miss a lot of forests.

Also I can’t get to the Seminary library right now.

Martha “welcomes” Our Lord (v38).
I’m thinking that it was Martha’s house.
Mary, though a sister, was probably a guest.

Not only that, but Catholic Tradition believes her to be Mary Magdalene.

I know!!! Another time for that one. It would explain a lot.

For one thing it would explain why Mary would dismiss the cultural “no no” and cozy up to the feet of Jesus. In that culture, women, even Jesus’ mom, would “keep to their place” – listening from a distance.


Mary acted every bit of a disciple to a rabbi.

So Martha is busy “serving”, which would make sense if this were her home.
Mary is busy “listening”, which would make sense if she were a guest – and kinda special.

All opinions aside, Our Lord says that Mary chose the “good” part.

Given different circumstances maybe Our Lord might have said that the “serving” was the better part. But in this place and time, for whatever reason, it was better for, at least Mary, to listen.

Our Lord hearts the “doer”…
he also hearts the “listener”…
a time for every purpose (ECC 3:1).

James, Our Lord’s brother hearts especially the one who listens and then does. (James 1:22) I think Jesus was a lot like James. But in this one case, it was the time for Mary to “listen”, and not “do”.

Sorry if you’re a Martha…
I’m sure Jesus didn’t mean to insult you.


And for us Mary’s…
this was just one instance…
sometimes we need to be “busy serving”…
or anointing the feet of Jesus (JN 12:3).

But here’s the thing that catches me.

Our Lord calls Martha’s name twice, then says

“…you are anxious and worried about many things.”

This is what catches me.

These are two different words in the Greek.

I wonder if they mean different things.

Something important is there.

I’ll be digging today.

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Sylvia February 7, 2012 at 10:09 am

In a sermon long ago I heard someone point out that (many translations, and the Greek, say) Mary *also* sat at the Lord’s feet. And looking at the Greek majority text, I see two “kai”s in the same “sentence,” so it evidently the second isn’t just saying “and”(? You’d know better than I.)

Anyway, this man took it to mean Mary did something else besides *just* sit and listen, that she wasn’t shirking work, but when the fleeting opportunity to soak up Jesus’ words and presence arose, she took it, not letting anything else stand in the way.

Something else to add to the mix while you dig?


Craig February 7, 2012 at 10:49 am

well, I wasn’t going to dig too deeply into this – but you may just make me do so. I was only going to study deeply those two words that Jesus told Martha NOT to be – I wasn’t going to do any big translating or anything. But now you have me looking at the translation– the second “kai” or “and” could mean either “and” or “also” – but it doesn’t seem it would be a good translation for it to imply that Martha was also listening at the feet of Jesus – or that Mary was doing other things while she was listening. context is a big help here in the translation. of course it’s possible she may have helped to a point – and then sat down – that would be a good guess – but just a guess – grrrrrr – I was trying to keep things very simple – but now I have to dig – thanks a lot! ツ


Sylvia February 7, 2012 at 11:02 am

Yeah, I know. Thanks but no thanks! hee hee. Have fun!

(And if you want to delete my comment and pretend I never got into that, I won’t be offended. :) )


Craig February 7, 2012 at 11:31 am



Martha Orlando February 7, 2012 at 3:46 pm

Years ago, when I was worried and anxious about many things, this passage hit a home run with me. I felt Jesus spoke directly to this Martha’s heart. It was right then and there I decided to focus on turning my burdens over to Him and to learn to sit patiently at His feet like Mary. It’s taken many years to get to where I am today, but I can tell you that now, when I begin to fret over something or grow anxious, I pray to Him and ask Him to take away the angst I am feeling.
What a relief . . .
Looking forward to more of this story tomorrow, Craig!


Craig February 19, 2012 at 3:55 am

“turning my burdens over to Him” I know this lesson Martha – but I don’t use it enough. Thank you for this reminder, I think I’ll make good use of it today. And I think you know I’ve been fighting off pneumonia – so I hope you know I’m sorry for being so late to respond. I’m just now catching up on all of my comments. Thank you for this one. As I said – I’ll be making use of this lesson today. God bless you my friend!


Martha Orlando February 7, 2012 at 3:47 pm

Oh, and the toilet paper is “over” at our house. LOL!


Craig February 7, 2012 at 4:01 pm

Martha, I know exactly what you’re saying – and still I hold onto many of mine – now that Sylvia has forced me to hit the books and really study this story – I’m wondering what surprises there will be – there are always surprises when I dig deep.

And about your toilet paper – over is actually the more accepted way – but it’s not possible with a love kitty who considers everything a toy. If it’s “over” he can unroll it – if it’s under, he can’t – problem solved ツ

oh, and the next post here will actually be Thursday – I just can’t find enough time to read people I heart – nor to live life – with each post taking three hours to write – and two blogs – I’m trying a new thing starting tomorrow – I’m going to post a post every day – but I’m going to alternate blogs – that’ll still be seven posts a week – so whenever you come here and don’t see a new post – one will be waiting on the other blog. K?


Martha Orlando February 7, 2012 at 8:29 pm

I can’t believe you can find time for all that you do, Craig. You must take time for life and love and “not be anxious” as I will always tell myself. And, telling you, now.
Laska is one smart kittie . . .
There are ever surprises on the horizon; I have found this to be so beautifully true when I study God’s word and pray that He speaks to me. He does; not always what I expect, but that is fine.
He speaks . . .
Will be looking forward to your next post, Craig!


Katie February 7, 2012 at 10:08 pm

I think we all need part Mary and part Martha. Martha was welcoming and serving. Mary was listening and learning. We need to do both and different times in our lives.

I do agree…. there is more about Martha being anxious and worried. She was so focused upon details, she forgot the big picture of being with Jesus. I look forward to how you see this after digging.


Craig February 19, 2012 at 3:58 am

balance – I’ve known for the longest time thats an important key – why do I forget so often what I know to be true! Oh me of little faith! I haven’t forgotten the Martha/Mary thing – I’ll be getting back to it this week. God bless you Katie! And thank you for the reminder of balance..


Dawn February 8, 2012 at 4:59 pm

Dear Craig,

I will be happy to hear about the anxious and worried about many things. I’ve often wondered why both were mentioned. I’m dealing with my fourth installment of Dark Night of the Soul and going through the dark night to purge the sin of wrath. Ann talked about those dark nights today when she said

No one enters into the real joy of the Lord in spite of the hard times —- but squarely through the door of the hard times.

Oh, what he needs to do to burn off our dross.

Love this community within a community,

PS The toilet paper roll had to be taken off the dispenser and it now sits on top of the counter by the sink here, otherwise the queen muttly eats the toilet paper!!!!


Nacole February 17, 2012 at 2:57 pm

Dawn, i love that quote by Ann. her writing slays me. when i read that particular piece of hers you referenced, it dissolves me into tears everytime–it hits home for me.

much love to you,



Daniela August 19, 2012 at 12:32 am

Oswald Chambers in one of his January devotional bubrls asks this question, paraphrased: What’s the greatest obstacle to knowing Jesus? His answer: Serving Him, an answer that so reminds me of this passage of scripture. We tend to be Martha Christians focused on serving, when we must take time to be Mary Christians as well. Serving is not bad, and if fact is an evidence of grace, but like anything good, it can be a bad god.


Craig August 19, 2012 at 10:17 am

Daniela, thank you for the awesome comment. Somehow you got caught by my spam catcher as a spam comment. I read them before I delete them. And I’m glad I found yours. You are so right – too much one way or the other is wrong – we need balance. No? And by the way, Já mluvím trochu české . Je to krásný jazyk , ale těžko se to naučit. :) pa pa – and thank you, and God bless you.


Craig February 19, 2012 at 4:05 am

Dawn, first of all I’m sorry for being so late to respond – it’s this darn pneumonia – it takes everything out of you – and what it doesn’t take – the sleep thing takes – hard to lift my head – I know you’ve seen this – I know you get it. Still, anyway, sorry.

And this, so true , “Oh, what he needs to do to burn off our dross.”

and Dawn, thank you so much for remaining part of my community within a community (◔‿◔)

PS and thank you for the muttly news! if I leave the toilet paper on top of the toilet – it’s a total green light – an open invitation for Laska to play with the toy (◔‿◔)


Nacole February 17, 2012 at 2:55 pm

im a Mary–to the extreme, and struggling with this lately. because my family needs me to be more balanced. my mom always reminds me that being this way is a good thing–because she was an extreme Martha, and never really had time for us. but still, i need a balance. i will try to continue reading this! so glad to be back–your place encourages.


Craig February 19, 2012 at 4:09 am

Nacole, I think I’ve told you about the pneumonia that I’m fighting – it’s hard right now to even raise my head – it’s not going to be a short fight – it never is – the sleep thing leaves me prone to it – anyway – it’s just my thorn – I only say this to say I’m sorry for being so late responding to so many of your comments.

And I can see you as a Mary – as you put it – to the extreme. You and I both know that balance is key – we both just need to act on what we know – you know?

And Nacole – YOU encourage ME. God bless you my friend!


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