The Gospel: Luke 10:38-42
As Jesus and his disciples went on their way, Jesus entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to what he was saying. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me." But the Lord answered her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her."
Prayer: Lord, you have promised that when two or three gather in your name you will be present with them. We depend on that promise today and pray that you will move among us. Lord, we pray that have you inspired Mike's preparation, that you will enliven his presentation and that you will empower our application. Amen
The Message: We are continuing our journey this morning through the Gospel of Luke. As I was preparing for writing my message this week I was listening to a commentary group who were reviewing the information we read in the Gospel this morning. They used an interesting phrase and I wanted to bring it up this morning as a possible insight to help us all understand our Scripture readings each week.
They used the phrase: "Luke's Jesus." I don't know if you have heard that phrase before now. It is an interesting way to look at and to understand the writings of the Gospels. Of course you can apply that phrase to each of the Gospel writers as well. Matthew's Jesus or Mark's Jesus or John's Jesus.
Each one of the Gospel writers was writing to a particular group of people. They wanted to convey a particular concept or view of who Jesus was and what Jesus' major focus or emphasis was. They wrote their accounts in the way that highlighted for them how he went about doing ministry.
It is the same Jesus but the writers of the Gospels had a particular emphasis that they wanted to convey. Or a particular audience in mind as they are writing. Some of that was a cultural, some of it was from a particular religious background, some of it was to draw those outside the Jewish faith to a belief and understanding of who Jesus was. Luke's gospel is clearly written more for a gentile audience. Luke intended his Gospel to be read primarily by gentiles, and he presented Jesus Christ as the Savior of both Jews and Gentiles. Luke specifically addressed His gospel to “Theophilus” (Luke 1:3), which in Greek means “friend of God” or “beloved of God”
Matthew's Gospel was written to the Jewish people of his day, Debates concerning Jewish identity following the siege of Jerusalem and the destruction of Second Temple in 70 CE, at the hands of the Romans, form the backdrop of Matthew's assertions of the Jewish character of Jesus' life and teachings.
Mark's explanations of Jewish customs and his translations of Aramaic expressions suggest that he was writing for Gentile converts, probably especially for those converts living in Rome.
John’s Gospel differs from the Synoptic Gospels in several ways: it covers a different time span than the others; it locates much of Jesus’ ministry in Judaea; and it portrays Jesus discoursing at length on theological matters. The major difference, however, lies in John’s overall purpose. The author of John’s Gospel tells us that he has chosen not to record many of the symbolic acts of Jesus and has instead included certain episodes in order that his readers may understand and share in the mystical union of Christ’s church, that they “may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name”
So, when we come to reading the Gospels we will find different approaches. There will highlighting of different experiences because of the author's intention to communicate to a specific audience. Being aware of who the Gospel was written for should help you in understanding what it is saying.
Now, I am not going to spend a lot of time on this point this morning but I would encourage you to think about what this tells you about your own understanding and comprehension of the scriptures, particularly the Gospels?
When you find yourself with the opportunity to share about the love of Jesus and the life and work of Jesus you will do it from your particular perspective. In other words here this morning it would be fair to say that we have a wide variety of comprehensions of who Jesus is. Then as we have the opportunity to share about him we will share from our own particular perspective or view point. In other words we have Ed's Jesus, Barbra's Jesus, Nancy's Jesus, Sue's Jesus and so on and so forth. That is an interesting concept isn't it. One we could spend quite a bit of time exploring and examining.
But that is also one of the primary reasons we come together at church. It is why we come together for community worship. It is also why we need to participate in the other activities of our faith community. We need to come and engage with others who do not see Jesus exactly the way we do. We need to be challenged about our understanding of who Jesus is. We need to interact and have conversation with people who see and understand Jesus very differently from how we do. Then, maybe, possibly, we might catch a glimpse of who Jesus really is.
But we should get back to Luke and his Gospel, his Jesus for this morning. Is there anyone here this morning who is hearing this story - the story of Mary and Martha - for the very first time?
OK so this is a very familiar story. One that is often used in all kinds of ways to convey all kinds of meanings and understandings of Jesus and his ministry.
This morning I want to focus our attention on the phrase that is used to describe Martha and then spend a little bit of time examining what it might mean for us.
We are familiar with the story. Jesus is passing through and stops off at Martha and Mary's house. Well actually if we read a little more closely we see that it is Martha's house and she welcomes Jesus. This is not a scheduled visit. Martha probably had no idea that she would be hosting Jesus. I don't think we would be extrapolating too much to think that Martha is fairly "house proud." She probably is probably caught unawares by this visit. She wants to make the best impression she can on her guest.
This scripture reminds me of my Mum. It reminds me of how she struggled with her decline in health. She would get so frustrated when guests would come to see her and she was not able to offer them her usual level of hospitality. More than once she would despair after they left that they would be disappointed in her because she couldn't offer them a cup of tea and something home made.
The people who came wanted to just sit and spend some time with her and catch up on how she was doing. Often she would become agitated and distressed because she wanted to do more. She sometimes missed out on the opportunity to experience their love and concern because she was distracted by her inability to serve them.
Instead of being bolstered by their love and support, instead of being able o share the joy that they felt in seeing her and being with her she would reflect on the time they were there with despair and self recrimination.
Martha in Luke's Gospel appears to miss out on what she could have experienced with Jesus because she was unable to be share the moment. "But Martha was distracted by her many tasks"
Then she moved from her own disappointment to criticism and seeking to rebuke her sister for not being willing to get involved. Martha misses her opportunity and then she tries to drag Mary into her misery.
"Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me."
Aren't we all glad that we don't do things like that in our relationships with the other people in our community here at Christ Church. That we do the things that we do as acts of service and as a reflection of our own understanding of what Jesus has done for us. We don't compare and contrast our role and our commitment to those others around us.
I believe that the key word from this passage is distraction or distractions. Now don't get me wrong I believe that Martha had the best possible intentions when it came to what she wanted to do for Jesus while he was visiting her home. The things that she was involved in were good distractions, worthwhile distractions, but when you come right to it they were still distractions.
In fact Jesus speaks directly to her and addresses that issue: "But the Lord answered her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things."
We don't even have to go on and look at what Jesus says about Mary. We could stop right here and we would have plenty to reflect on from this passage.
Luke's Jesus, this Jesus who Luke wants his gentile listeners to come to understand, is not caught up in all things being right and proper and in good order. Jesus is not interested in the distractions which are drawing Martha away from being in fellowship and relationship with him. I will say it again, these are good distractions, worthwhile distractions. Martha is doing them with the best intentions in the world. But they are distractions
As we look at our own lives, as we look at the things that we do within this community what might we discover about our distractions might be. How do we allow our distractions to become more important than our fellowship with Jesus or our service for Jesus? I was reminded of my sermon, from a few weeks ago, on having an undivided heart.
As we look at Luke's Jesus in our passage from Luke 10: 38-42 I believe we can identify one of the key elements for determining the future of Christ Church. Is Christ Church a place where we do all that we do for the sake of Grace? Or are we "worried and distracted by many things?" Do we try to drag others into our lack of peace and grumbling service?
Perhaps we need to spend some time this week reflecting on the Collect for this morning:
"Almighty God, the fountain of all wisdom, you know our necessities before we ask and our ignorance in asking: Have compassion on our weakness, and mercifully give us those things which for our unworthiness we dare not, and for our blindness we cannot ask; through the worthiness of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen."
Bishops & Father Mike