Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.
The DEEP

One Thing is Necessary

and it's not serving snacks to the guests.

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.”

What Martha was doing is important. If everyone only did what Mary did, and no one did Martha’s job, no one would get served. Making sure people got served is the reason the deaconate was instituted. So why does the Lord take Mary’s side in this?

Notice that Martha doesn’t criticize Mary; she criticizes Jesus. “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.”

Martha is doing something important, but that’s not the issue. Martha’s problem is she’s anxious and troubled about many things. Up until the moment when she lights into Jesus, everything is just fine. Martha is busy serving and Mary is busy listening to Jesus’ teaching. Martha was the one who welcomed him into her house. She’s the head hostess. Furthermore, Mary is performing a normal and useful hostess role.

Actually, it’s much more than a useful hostess role. When Jesus says, “One thing is necessary,” he’s referring to His teaching.

Martha has it exactly backwards. She thinks that her serving is necessary and that Mary’s listening to Jesus’ teaching isn’t. Jesus is saying that listening to His teaching is the necessary thing.

It’s why He’s there.


Jesus’ teaching is still the necessary thing. Most churchgoing adults get all their learning from the sermon on Sunday. That’s not enough for someone to grow.

So, how can you help? How can you get people to take up more learning?

The primary way is Sunday School (or other Christian education programs). Make these programs excellent and people will come. A little nudge now and then doesn’t hurt though. Tools like these devotionals are also useful. They are a good next step for folks who are already attending Sunday School.

And please pray for the people who teach and/or administrate these things (including me). Please lift up all those who are part of your learning. There’s a lot of work that goes on behind the scenes to make everything at Church run properly.

This can be stressful for the people who carry the responsibility.


The weekly study guides, which include discussion questions, are available for download here:

https://www.ailbe.org/resources/itemlist/category/91-deep-studies

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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