What is the Good Portion? – Luke 10:38-42
Opening Thoughts: Have you ever invited someone over to your home for a meal and when the day came you felt totally unprepared? The result of the evening was that you spent the majority of the time fussing over the event and little to no time actually sitting down to have meaningful conversation with your guests. I wonder if your guests would’ve rather had a nice visit with you instead of seeing you as a waitress? My prayer is that today’s discussion in Luke 10 will cause many of you to closely examine your lives and start to see what Jesus views as valuable service. Prepare to be changed.
Luke 10:38-42 ESV .. Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”
Jesus is Invited: How many times have you heard the term “You need to invite Jesus into your heart”? I can tell you with certainty that I have heard that phrase too many times. I wonder how silly it would have sounded if Jesus would have lead the thief on the cross in a prayer to invite Him into his heart? The thief heard the words of Jesus while he was hanging there and God opened that criminal’s eyes to the disgusting nature of his own sin and depravity, which lead him to repentance and putting his trust in the Savior. If we simply tell people to invite Jesus into their heart we lead people into a false hope and security. Invitation does not equal salvation.
Distracted by Serving: In this text we see that a woman named Martha invites Jesus to be a guest at her home. The idea is that as soon as he gets there she is so distracted with things and preparations that she has no time to sit down and listen to Him. Danae and I have spoken with so many people in the church that are busy serving with food hampers, cleaning the church, youth group, choir, singing on the worship team, preparing for outreach events, moms groups, dads groups, cell groups, home groups, community groups, addiction recovery groups, singles groups and the list just keeps going. We’ve also heard many of these same people say, “I just don’t have time to read the Bible” or “with my busy schedule I’m just too tired to read and study”. We too were once those people, like Martha, one time in our lives we had extended an invitation to Jesus to come into our hearts but paid little attention to His commands as we were too busy serving Him in a variety of ways. Then one day a few years ago we came to the realization that we were lost, hopeless slaves to sin that were caught up in serving a Jesus we did not know, and frankly who did not know us. Matthew 7:21-23 hit us square in the middle of the eyes and we fell to our knees trembling before a holy God. That night we repented of our sin and fixed our eyes on Jesus, on whom they are still fixed.
Listening to His Teaching: Obviously if this was anyone other than Jesus this story would be rather irritating. Martha invites Jesus to her home and her lazy sister sits at His feet gazing into His eyes, listening to His instructions.
On the natural level, lazy people irritate me as well. I used to work with this girl in a Ford dealership where she and I were responsible for unloading stock orders. She was about 6 years older than I and was super lazy. I got to know her tricks right away, after about 20 minutes of unpacking she would take a restroom break (which was located at the front of the store, and we were all the way in the back). After about 30 minutes or so of me slaving by myself without her help I would take a trip to the front of the store where I would find here having coffee and chatting it up with the parts guys. There’s a word for people like this in the workforce and it’s called “Slacker”.
Although it looks like this is the case with Mary, it could be no further from the truth. The text says, “And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching”, obviously we cannot sit down at the feet of Jesus physically because He does not exist with us physically, but we have been given something that is filled with His teachings, and that is His Word, the Bible. The Word is a lamp unto my feet and light to my path. So if the Word is a light to our feet, the absence of His Word and teachings is walking in darkness. In the times of the Old Testament shepherds would put candles on their feet so they could have light directly on their path, it was treacherous walking in the dark without the ability to see what was directly at their feet. By shedding light on their path they avoided any holes, stumps or cliffs that would otherwise be undetectable. The Word of God exposes the darkness in our lives and reveals our sin, it exposes our nature and causes us to repent escaping false assurance and certain death. As we read in the passage below, John says it’s possible to actually walk in darkness while perceiving to have fellowship with Him. Of course this is only one way fellowship, where we talk the talk, walk the walk and profess to know Him all the while being busy serving without hearing or obeying anything He has to say.
1 John 1:6 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.
One Thing is Necessary: There is one word in this whole text that is likely overlooked but what I feel is of utmost importance, and that is the word “portion”. Jesus uses this word when responding to Martha’s complaint that Mary is not doing anything, let’s read it again.
“And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”
Jesus says to Martha that she is anxious and troubled about many things, but only one thing is necessary. When Jesus says the word necessary I think we should sit up and pay attention. Think about it, if you were being taught how to skydive and as you were about to jump the instructor said, “Listen closely, what I am about to say is necessary to survive the jump”, it’s safe to say most of us would be all ears. It would also be very important not to be distracted by many things just before a jump like that. In essence this is exactly what Jesus is saying, “Martha, you are so distracted by many things that you are missing the only thing that’s necessary.”
The Good Portion: I can’t tell you enough how I hope you hear these words of Jesus and that they ring clear to you. Jesus is about to say something that should shock us out of the chaos that much of the church has been accustom to these days. Are you ready? Jesus says to Martha, “Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” In order to understand how important these words are let’s take a look at a few other passages from the Old Testament.
Psalm 16:5-6 ESV .. The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot. The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.
Psalm 73:26 ESV .. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
Psalm 142:5 ESV .. I cry to you, O LORD; I say, “You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.”
Numbers 18:20 ESV .. And the LORD said to Aaron, “You shall have no inheritance in their land, neither shall you have any portion among them. I am your portion and your inheritance among the people of Israel.
Lamentations 3:24 ESV .. “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, therefore I will hope in him.”
The “Portion” was actually a piece of land, and inheritance. The Levites were not allowed to own land for themselves in the OT because as we read in Numbers 18, the Lord was Aaron’s portion. He was to be the one they desired alone and the things of the world should pail in comparison to Him. The Psalmist says that the Lord is his portion and he has a beautiful inheritance, he also says that although our physical bodies fail us God is our portion forever. And in Lamentations it says that the Lord is his portion, therefore “I will hope in Him.”
Closing Thoughts: A person that has been changed by the grace and mercy of Jesus Christ will put all other distractions aside. Someone who has truly been changed by the Holy Spirit and has a new covenant with God will place Him above all else, whether it be family, car, home, work, house maintenance, kids, serving etc. Don’t fall for the lie that just because you invited Jesus into your home that He is your PORTION, he may not be. Examine your life, do you love HIM? Do you love His WORD? Do you study about HIM in the BIBLE? Do you place your alone time with Him above all ELSE? If so, then you are demonstrating fruit of someone that has their portion in Christ and not in the world. A portion that will NEVER BE TAKEN AWAY FROM YOU!
Preparing The Way