By Lindsay Preston
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 ….” (Luke 10:38-42)
Silly question: Have you ever been performance-driven, even making up for the idleness of someone else to a point where it really rattled your lid?
Not-so-silly answer: Of course!
Just like Martha.
Luke 10 ends with Christ’s first of three visits to a much beloved household in Bethany, that of Martha and her siblings, her sister, Mary, and as recorded in John 11, her brother, Lazarus.
Out of the three, Martha was the ignition, and often made herself to be the fuel as well, just as outspoken as she was welcoming. It was her who ran to Jesus when he entered the village. It was her who greeted him again when he later returned.
On the first occasion and in Christ’s subsequent visits, she obviously assumed full charge of the meal preparations, and perhaps hadn’t yet honed her delegation skills. As though everyone should know their part, she multi-tasked in full throttle, performance personified—and then some.
Then she spots the idling Mary. Okay, the sister was sitting with Jesus, but there was still so much stuff begging to be done!
I like to think that Martha didn’t speak up right away. Whether motivated by the need to be valued or a sincere desire to bring her best, she threw herself even into some of the things she thought Mary should be responsible for. Frustration continued to brew. When the pot cover inside her head started rattling, she marched over to Jesus—and might he be just slightly remiss himself, allowing Mary a front-row seat while tired Martha picks up the slack?
Her frustration reverberated through her very first word, that hallowed title, “Lord.”
Then this shocker, “… do you not care …?”
Instead of calling Mary aside, Martha openly attempts to obligate a third party—in this case the Lord himself—to come to her corner. Nowadays, this might manifest as a social network rant; a Twitter tweet or a Facebook post excluding the name of the accused as everyone in my friend’s list, all my followers will know who the rant refers to.
There must have been a few seconds of utter silence after this pop: “Tell her then to help me.”
The strongest, most encompassing, and most effective emotion unsurprisingly comes calmly through the mouth of Christ.
“Martha, Martha ….”
The pot is simmering here as well. But with deep compassion. The for-God-so-loved-the-world kind. He calls us by name, and here Jesus dearly repeats that of the performance-driven Martha.
Humans repeat names too sometimes. To grab eye contact. The person spoken to usually gets to say, “What?” So that we follow with words—and actions, which we often claim speak louder than words.
But when God repeats your name, there is no need for, “What?”
You will know.
“Martha, Martha ….”
Her heart melted right there. She knew.
Adam and Eve had only to hear “the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden” (Genesis 3:8), and they knew. They knew their nakedness.
In your frustration, fear, guilt, or whatever emotion unclothes you, do the Matthew 6:6. Enter your room, shut the door. Hide, not as Adam and Eve did, thinking they could hide from the great I AM. Hide with Him. He will repeat your name.
Your name alone, from the omnipotent breath of God, is the faithful heart of the Holy Trinity expressing the one thing necessary.
Just like Mary.
Be still and listen; be still and know. Know not only that He is God but know who you are in Him. Know your identity. That you are his beloved. His bride. Know He has you engraved on the palms of his hands (Isaiah 49:16), your sitting at his feet established an eternity before you stood to perform thinking you must earn.
Sit or kneel listening at the feet of Jesus. Only in such a surrendered and intimate position can you receive your Paid-By-Christ identity when God repeats your name.