Sunday, April 11, 2010

[Matt's Messages] "Sitting at Jesus' Feet"

“Sitting at Jesus’ Feet” 
Certain of Jesus:  The Gospel of Luke
April 11, 2010
Luke 10:38-42

We’re back to our series entitled “Certain of Jesus - The Gospel According to Luke.”  This is actually the 23rd message in this series, and we’re not even half way through the book yet.

But today, we’re just going to advance five verses.  One little story tucked into the middle of this great book about Jesus.  It’s the story of Mary and Martha.

And it’s been a story I’ve been thinking a lot about these last few months because I’m planning to preach on it in a couple of weeks at the district conference in McKeesport.  I’d very much appreciate your prayers for me as I prepare my message for that conference.

In this story, there is a contrast between two sisters.  It’s a tale of two sisters: Mary and Martha.  Both are beloved of the Lord. Both are His friends.  Both are special women to Jesus.  But in this story, one sister has her priorities right and one has her priorities wrong.

And Jesus uses this to teach you and me a lesson about what is most important in life.  He calls it the “one thing needed.”

And this is what it is: “Sitting at Jesus’ Feet.”

Let’s read the story.  Luke chapter 10, verses 38-42.

“As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him.  She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said.  But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, ‘Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!’  ‘Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, ‘you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her’” [NIV].

I don’t know if Mary and Martha fought very often.

This is the only story in the Bible where they disagree with one another.

But on this day, they had their differences.

Martha was mad.

Isn’t that clear in verse 40?  “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself?  Tell her to help me!”

Martha was miffed.

In her eyes, Mary was falling down on the job.

Verse 38 tells us that 13 hungry men had dropped in on the home of these two sisters. Jesus and his twelve disciples were “on their way,” and they came “to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him.”

And Martha got busy with the preparations.  She got to cleaning, baking, cooking, organizing, sending someone to the market for a missed item, polishing the silverware, getting everything ready to please the Master.

But Mary, Martha’s sister, just sat there.  Verse 39.

“She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.”

That was somewhat unusual for a woman to sit at the rabbi’s feet learning.

But this was an unusual rabbi!
And Mary just sat there.

And it steamed Martha.   “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself?  Tell her to help me!”

Serving is really important!  Isn’t it?  Yes it is.

But that’s not what Jesus does.  He doesn’t say.  “You’re right, Martha.  Mary get up and get to work.  Off with you now.”

No, He very tenderly and very lovingly rebukes Martha.  V.41

“‘Martha, Martha,’ the Lord answered, ‘you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed.  Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.’”

Jesus is talking about priorities.

He’s talking about the number one priority that out rules all others.

“Only one thing is needed.  Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

What is that one thing?  Sitting at Jesus’ Feet.

What does that mean?  And what does that look like for us today?

My wife says that I can take something simple and make it complex.

So, I’m going to take that One Thing and split it into three this morning.

Sitting at Jesus’ Feet means:


That’s obvious from verse 39 itself.  “Mary...sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.”  Literally, “listening to His word.”

Mary was hanging on every word that came from Jesus’ mouth.

This sitting at Jesus’ feet was taking the posture of a disciple, a learner.

She was focused with all of her attention on what Jesus had to say.  What Jesus was teaching.

Can you imagine being in that class?  To listen with your own ears to Jesus’ wisdom and knowledge.  To start to see the dawning of the Kingdom of God in His words, the authority with which He spoke, and the tenderness in His voice as He shared words of grace and mercy and truth.

Mary sat enthralled by the Master’s teaching.

She prioritized listening to Jesus over everything else.

Listening to Jesus.

Now, this does not mean that Mary never served.  It doesn’t mean that Mary missed her obligations.

But she recognized that serving was not the priority here.  The Rabbi of Rabbis was teaching. The Teacher of Teachers was speaking. The Wisdom of God was in the living room. 

Mary was not going to be lost in the kitchen.

“Mary sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said.”

Now, the chief way that we do that today is by eating God’s Word.

We sometimes call it “Bible intake.”

The Bible is Jesus’ teaching.  It is how we listen to Jesus today.

Reading the Bible.
Studying the Bible.
Listening to sermons like this one on the Bible.
Memorizing the Bible.
Meditating on the Bible.

The Bible is Jesus’ Word.

So, if we’re going to be like Mary and sit at Jesus’ feet, we must prioritize our own time in His word.

“Only one thing is needed.  Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

How are you doing at listening to Jesus?

How are you doing at listening to Jesus in His Word?

I’ve noticed that a lot of people try to have a relationship with Jesus without listening.

They think that their praying is enough.  I talk with people who say that they pray, but they feel far away from God.  And they don’t understand why they don’t hear from Him.

But relationships are two-way, aren’t they?

There is talking and there is also listening.

And the chief way that we hear from Jesus now is hearing Him in the Bible.

Are you reading your Bible?

Do you set aside time to read your Bible?

Only One Thing is Necessary – Sitting at Jesus’ Feet.

Are you studying your Bible?

Do you work at trying to figure out what it means?
Do you meditate on what you find in there?

Do you mull it over and think about and make it a part of your day and your conversations and your journaling?

Do you memorize the Bible?  “I have hidden Your Word in my heart that I might not sin against you.”

Do you listen to the sermon?  Do you take heed to what you hear?

How are you doing at listening to Jesus?

Mary listened to Jesus.  She prioritized it above everything else–including even serving Jesus.

Sometimes those of us in Christian leadership can make the mistake that Martha did.

She made the mistake of thinking that serving Jesus was more important that listenin to Him!

And no wonder we get worried and distracted about ministry!  I realized this week that I was worried and distracted about my district conference message about being worried and distracted!

Because I was not focused on Jesus.  I wasn’t listening to Him.

There is nothing more important than sitting at Jesus’ feet.

What practical steps do you need to take to prioritize listening to Jesus?

Some of us need to establish a quiet time.  Or I like to call them a noisy time.  A time for serious Bible intake.

I’ve recently adjusted how I do my Bible reading because I found that it was getting de-prioritized. 

It was still getting done, but on the side.  Not front and center.

So moved where my reading Bible sits, and I changed my habits about when it gets read.

What do you need to do to get the Bible into you?  To listen to Jesus?

Maybe it’s join a Sunday School Class or Link Group or come to Prayer Meeting on Wednesday nights.  The details of all of those groups are in the bulletin this week.

Whatever it is–do it!

Because there is nothing more important.  One thing is needed–sitting at Jesus’ feet.

And that means listening to Jesus.

It also means #2. LINGERING WITH JESUS.

And by that, I mean that this is not just a academic pursuit.  It’s not teaching for teaching’s sake.

It’s Jesus’ teaching.  This is personal.  Mary wanted to be with Jesus.

She drew near to Jesus.

Martha was right.  Mary had left her to be with Jesus.

She was sitting with Jesus.  She was lingering there in His presence.

She was focused on Jesus.  This is personal.

Mary sat at the Lord’s feet.

How are you doing with lingering with Jesus?

Being in Jesus’ presence?

Of course, we’re always in Jesus’ presence.  Through His deity and the Holy Spirit, Jesus is omni-present, so we can’t get away.

But this is the language of relationship–“drawing near,” “being with,” “sitting at His feet.”

How are you and I doing at that?

Here, I think about our prayer life.

A prayer life that is focused on Jesus.  Attentive to Jesus.  Not like Martha who is worried and upset and (v.40), “distracted.”
Martha talks to Jesus, but it’s out of desperation and distraction. She’s stressed out.

She is not at peace. She’s not resting. She’s not sitting. She’s not trusting.

She’s not focusing on Jesus.

What is your prayer life like right now?

Can I recommend a book to you today?

I love to recommend good books.

This book is called “A Praying Life,” and it’s by Paul Miller–the guy who wrote, “Love Walked Among Us.”

I’ve read a number of books on prayer, and I can easily say that this is the best book I’ve ever read on prayer.  And Heather would agree.

The advertising for the book says that it’s a book for “Badly Praying Christians, which is about 95% of us.”

Most books on prayer make me feel tired after I read them.  Oh, I have to do that?

This book got me praying as I read it!

The subtitle of the book is “Connecting with God in a Distracting World.”

And there’s the tie-in with Martha.  Martha was distracted.  She was worried and upset.  King James says she was “careful and troubled.”  Full of cares and full of troubles.

Martha needed to linger with Jesus.

She needed to rest at His feet.

She need to give over her burdens to Him and listen to Him.

“Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed.  Mary has chosen [to linger with me], and it will not be taken away from her.”

What are you worried and upset about right now?

What has you distracted?

Linger with Jesus. 

The one thing that is needed is time with Jesus.

But, but, but, but I have all this work to do!

Yes, you do.  But that’s not the one thing that’s important.

Jesus is.

Sitting at the Lord’s feet.

Listening to Jesus.
Lingering with Jesus.


Just plain old loving Jesus.

Because that’s what it comes down to, isn’t it?

V.42, “Mary has CHOSEN what is better.”

What has she chosen?

Jesus Himself.

She has loved Him. She has valued Him. She had adored Him.

She has worshiped Him.

Sitting at Jesus’ feet is treasuring Him above everything else. And that’s what we call worship.

And it’s what we call “love.”

Loving Jesus.

Martha may have been trying to love Jesus by serving Him.

But it’s clear that her focus was not on Jesus Himself.

It’s clear because she got so miffed at Mary and even at Jesus’ Himself.

“Lord, don’t you care?”  “Tell her to help me!”

Which is using Jesus, not worshiping Him.

And certainly not enjoying Him.

Mary had it right.

Mary had chosen what is better.  V.42.  Literally, “The better portion.”

Jesus Himself.

And it will not be taken away from her.

Sitting at Jesus’ feet was loving Jesus.

Treasuring Him above all other things.

Mary did that again, didn’t she?

In John chapter 12, this same Mary took a “pint of pure nard, an expensive perfume; she poured it on Jesus' feet and wiped his feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the perfume.”

John says that Judas objected, saying, “Why wasn't this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year's wages."

A year’s wages?!

That’s extravagant worship.

But Jesus said, "Leave her alone.  It was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial.”

Perhaps Mary, sitting at Jesus’ feet, had understood what the other disciples had not.

That Jesus was going to die.  And she was anointing Him, preparing Him for burial.

She was pouring out all of her treasure on Him because He was worth so much to her.

She was, in costly worship, loving Jesus.

How are you and I doing at loving Jesus?

Do we chose Him above everything else?

Do we chose Him as our One Thing?

If we do, it will not be taken away from us.

Listening to Jesus.
Lingering with Jesus.
And Loving Jesus.

Sitting at Jesus’ Feet.

Worship at the Lord’s Table

One more thing about this story.

I think there is also here, a picture of the gospel.

Martha is trying to serve.  She’s trying to do something FOR Jesus.

And we can get to thinking that salvation comes by our doing things for Jesus.

But Mary receives from Jesus.  She is a picture of someone who receives a gift of grace.

Martha spells things D-O.  Do.

But Jesus spells things D-O-N-E.  Done.

He’s done everything for us that we need.  Including dying for our sins in our place which is what this table represents.

And those who come to this table are not worthy of it.

We are not good people who come to serve God.

We are sinners who needed to be saved.  And Jesus did it for us.

We just receive it.

Mary is a picture for us of sitting still and letting Jesus do the work.

Oh yes, there is a time for serving.

I’m sure that when Jesus was done teaching, He’d probably say, “Okay, let’s wrestle up some grub.”

But serving comes after sitting.

Serving comes after being served.
Serving comes after been saved.
And it comes out of being saved.

“Only one thing is needed.  Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

If you have received Jesus as your Savior, and are walking with Him, then you are invited to eat and drink this meal with us today.

Use this time to linger with Him, thanking Him for all that He has done for you.

If you have not received Jesus as your Savior or are not walking with Him right now, then we ask that you not eat and drink this memorial meal with us.

Instead, use this time to think about the gospel.  About Jesus.

About how awesome Jesus is in every way.

How worthy He is for us to listen to, to focus on, to love, to adore, to treasure.

And how loving He has been to give Himself for you and me.

You know, I believe that Martha learned her lesson.

Because when her brother Lazarus died, and Jesus came to visit. She was upset because He hadn’t come in time to heal him.

“But Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?’” 

And Martha said, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world.”

She had been listening.  She had been sitting at Jesus’ feet.

Messages So Far In this Series:

Certain of Jesus
The Back-Story of Jesus
The Birth of Jesus
Jesus - A Very Special Child
Preparing the Way for Jesus
Jesus Is the Son of God
Jesus in Galilee
Jesus and the Sinners
Jesus Brings Real Joy and Rest
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part One
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part Two
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part Three
Jesus' Followers Are Different: Part Four
Amazing Jesus
Disappointed with Jesus
Loving Jesus Much
Jesus' Real Family
Jesus Is Lord
Who Is Jesus?
Following Jesus
Sent By Jesus
Q&A With Jesus