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2011/12 Luke Study 34 Wits UBF 11. Mar.

2012 South Africa

MARY HAS CHOSEN WHAT IS BETTER Luke 10:38-42 (Key verse 42) but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her. # Thanksgiving Topics # 1) I thank God for the words God gives us each day. The word of God is the words of life and truth. May God bless our Luke 1:1 Bible study and testimony writing. 2) I thank God who brought us to the worship service. While living in this complex society, its indeed a miracle to come to the service on Sunday morning. 3) I thank God who helped us to find the venue for the internal Africa regional conference on August. God may help shepherd James to book the venue this week. I always get a title of the Sunday message from the scriptures. The title Mary Has Chosen What Is Better is also from the scriptures. If I differently entitle this message, Id like to set a title Devoted or Distracted. These two words, begins with D, sounds similar, but they have an extremely opposite meaning. Depending on which one you choose to be, you life will be different in the end. Before we begin to study the passage, lets question to yourself; Am I distracted by many things? or Am I devoted to one thing? The passage today is about the encounter Jesus had with Martha and Mary. Jesus and His disciples were on their way when they arrived at a village. Martha opened her house to Jesus and probably His disciples too (38). According to Johns gospel Martha and Mary were the sisters of Lazarus who lived in Bethany, a village about 3-4 km from Jerusalem where Jesus was eventually killed on the cross. It seems that one day Martha and Mary suddenly had 13 guests drop in for dinner. Jesus and His disciples had been travelling in the area and unexpectedly dropped in the house of Martha and Mary. What would you do if you suddenly had 13 guests drop in for dinner? Perhaps you would decide to order out for Pizza or hamburgers. Or you would go out to a restaurant in the famous 7th Street. But none of these were options for Martha. She could not order out for fast food or go out to a restaurant. There were no freezers to keep ready-made foods in. Martha probably had to grind up some flour and bake bread. Martha probably had to kill and cook a chicken or maybe even a lamb.

Martha probably had to milk the cow, and had to go to the city well for fresh water. Maybe she had to do some house-cleaning too. In case Jesus and His disciples would stay over the night, she had to prepare extra beddings and toiletries too. Obviously she didnt have extra beddings and toiletries for 13 people, so she must have went neighbors to borrow them. Under normal circumstances, Marthas acts would be highly appreciated. If the todays passage is about welcoming a guest or hospitality, Marthas acts would be exemplary. She was competent, willing to sacrifice, wellintentioned, somebody who makes things happens. Here, however, the scene is much different. The guest reclining in her home was not a normal visitor but Jesus the Messiah. That is the reason Marthas hard work was differently noticed in the passage. Look at verse 40. It says Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. Here the word distract needs our attention. It means to cause to turn away from the original focus of attention or interest. The Greek word translated as "distracted" literally means "to be pulled, dragged away." Can you picture a team of workhorses pulling a big tree stump out of a field? In the same way, Martha's service pulled or dragged away her attention from Jesus. Martha wanted to listen but she only heard bits and pieces of the conversation. Being a good hostess that she was, she was constantly jumping up and down, doing all the work of feeding 13 unexpected guests. She wanted to listen but was distracted by the pressure of being a good hostess. In direct contrast to Martha was Mary, her sister. Verse 39 tells us that Mary "sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said." Mary sat at the feet of Jesus Christ. She quietly sat there listening to Jesus. Martha, it seems, did not appreciate this. While running back and forth Martha noticed that Mary was sitting down with Jesus. Martha was so busy with the guests for dinner, but her sister was sitting down. So Martha went to Jesus and said, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me (40b). Did you notice what Martha said? This is interesting. Martha said "my sister has left me to do the work by myself." In other words, Mary had been helping Martha, but now she thought it was more important to sit down and listen to Jesus. She had been working with Martha; but now she said "Enough!" threw down her apron, and sat at Jesus' feet. Mary found what was better and she chose it which was listening to Jesus.

2011/12 Luke Study 34 Wits UBF 11. Mar. 2012 South Africa

We all know that the Christian life is a life of faith expressed in works. This means that all Christians, like Martha and Mary, should show their love and their faith in their services for the Christ and others. Like Martha and Mary, we are called to minister to do works in the name of Christ. It can be helping other people or participating in charities. It also can be more church related; preparing church functions, preparing lunch for church attendants or laying bricks for improving a church building. We deeply love Jesus and we express our love and faith in Him by doing these things. Martha expressed her love and faith in Jesus by being a good hostess of Jesus and His disciples. But Marthas problem was she was too busy to forget one thing, the most important thing. Martha was being so distracted with all preparations until she neglected what is better. She was being so distracted with serving people until she neglected there was Jesus, the Messiah. Jesus said, "Martha, Martha, 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 (41-42)." Im not sure Mary realized at that time that Jesus was on the way to Jerusalem to be killed on the cross. It means Martha and Mary would never see Jesus again. Whether she knew it or not, she knew she had to spend time with Jesus, listening to the words of eternal life. Nothing, absolutely nothing, was more important than listening to Jesus words. Why are we to spend time listening to Jesus? Remember the time Jesus was transfigured on the mountain? In front of Peter, James, and John, Jesus' appearance and clothing changed. And, Elijah and Moses appeared and talked to Him. Suddenly, a cloud came and surrounded them. The voice of God came from the cloud, saying, "This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him (Lk.9:34). The most important one thing is listening to Jesus because He is the Son of God, the Creator of the whole universe. His words are the words of life. To listen to Him is to drink from the well of living water. To listen to Him is to drink of the only water that quenches the thirst of our soul. Of course a new car, a fulfilling job, an immaculate house, happy guests, a booming business, a relaxing vacation, invigorating exercise, a winning soccer season, or graduating a university - all of these are very important in life. But they are unimportant next to Christ Himself. Remember what Jesus said? "What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole

world, yet forfeits his soul? (Mt.16:26) As Jesus said only one thing is needed. Knowing Jesus, listening to Him is the most important thing in life. Everything else is, or should be, secondary. If we are not listening to Jesus we are turning our backs on God's wondrous and free salvation and eternal life. If we are too busy serving this and that in and outside the church until we neglect listening to what Jesus says, this is a problem. If we are too busy to listen to Jesus through daily prayer and meditation, regular Bible study and attending the Sunday service, this is a big problem. It seems we have done so many things, but except one the most important thing in life. Then we will lose everything in the end. Do you know how to wash a car? To clean your car you need to do many things. You have park the car outside to dry it. You have to fill a bucket with water and add car wash soap. You then have to brush your car with a soft sponge section by section, starting at the top. The most important part is after your car is washed, you have to rinse it with water and dry the vehicle with fresh towels. This is the most important part to remember if you dont want the soap and dirt to dry on the paint and stain it. You have done so many things spending hours to wash your car, but if you miss this one last step to rinse your car with water and dry it with fresh towels you have to do it all over again. If you miss this one last step you will lose everything you have done before. Im not now talking about how to wash your car. What Im talking about is there are a few things or one thing you have to really concern about. Depending on how you manage a few things or one thing which is very important or the most important, your life will produce a very different result in the end. This is about socalled priority. Especially the Christians priority is about our choice between devoted to one thing and distracted by many other things. Priority is a very commonly used word in our time. Our society becomes more frantic and disjointed. The societys request of get-thisdone-asap becomes more demanding and the people in this society have to do so many different things in a limited period of times. So the word priority seems to be constantly on the lips of people who are trying to sort out life issues in terms of the things they need to be committed to. We have books on priorities, setting priorities, you can hire people to come in and teach you how to prioritize things. It's really become a very, very popular word because it seems to be a very great need in our

2011/12 Luke Study 34 Wits UBF 11. Mar. 2012 South Africa

complex time. When we say "priority" we usually mean the important thing, or what is the main thing, or what is most necessary. We all know what the word "prior" means. It means before, or ahead of, or preceding. A priority then is something that comes before everything else. It precedes everything else. It's ahead of everything else. It is then what is supreme, what is essential and what is foundational in our lives. So when you talk about priority, you're really saying what in my life comes before anything else? What is before anything else and everything else? What is the number one priority for our lives as a Christians? What is the number one priority? Not two, not three. We are not talking about priorities. We are talking about priority. In the Bible, David and Paul had this perspective. In Psalm 27:4, David said, One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple. In Philippians 3:13, Paul said Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, David had reduced his life to one thing, one single priority and he said it was to dwell in the house of God and behold the beauty of God. Pauls number one priority was to know God and to be conformed to His likeness. David and Paul knew there was only one pursuit and one priority. Behind all of that in our lives there is one simple thing that is the Christians single priority. The good news is there is only one, but the bad news is if you miss it, youve missed all that follows. If you get it, the rest of the Christian life will unfold. If you miss it, you will limp without possibility of adequate blessing and usefulness. Martha loved Jesus so much. She was ready to do anything for the Christ. She was willing to sacrifice herself for serving Jesus and His valued disciples. But Martha was pulled away by the busyness of physical preparation. Nothing is wrong with hospitality. Its actually commanded in the Bible. Her devotion to the guests is commendable. And, of course, she was doing all those preparation for the Lord. But in the process she just had her priority completely twisted. Martha was fussing around all over the place trying to get down the way she wanted it done and lost sight completely of a rare privilege to hear the Lords universe teachings privately and personally at her own home. When Marthas priority was messed up, she started losing the joy of the service for the

guests. Martha became upset and angry at her sister. She became frustrated and got mad. Martha loved Jesus and she was a close friend of Jesus. But when she missed the priority, she eventually missed everything she had. On the other hand, her sister Mary took the privilege. Mary chose to take a privilege to hear the absolute truth from the very mouth of God incarnate. Mary couldnt miss this opportunity to hear the words of God from the Messiah. Mary was not sure when she would see Jesus again. She had to grasp this opportunity to meet Jesus and to hear His words, the words of truth and eternal life. Mary was very lightly mentioned in the passage and yet she became the central figure in the story. She became the example for all of us for the rest of our Christian experience. Actually all we know about her is that when Jesus came to her house, she was listening to His words seated at His feet. But thats enough to tell us about her. She knew Jesus came to town to the village where she lived to teach. She knew Jesus came to her house to teach the word of truth. And she listened to Jesus. She knew Jesus was the Lord, the Messiah. Therefore to her listening to Jesus words was the number one priority in her life. In the ancient Jewish society a woman wasnt allowed to be seated at Rabbis feet. A woman could learn in the back or in the womans section. But to come up and be at Jesus feet, Mary was as close as she could get, as near as she could be. Marys position indicated her intense interest in Jesus teaching. Mary got as close as she could get not to miss a single word. She was literally pinned to the most powerful, clear, truthful teacher who ever spoke. There she was right alongside Jesus, sitting at His feet. Mary didnt care about the conventional sense about a woman at that time. She listened to Jesus words. A lot of people says, "Lord, Lord, I know you and I believe in you," but they didnt know their number one priority is to come and hear what Jesus says, to know His words. These people are always busy doing many things at work, at home and even at church. But they miss one thing, the most important thing, listening to the words of God. Even so many churches are distracted by many secondary things. They concern about improvement of church building. They concern about charities. They concern about choir. They concern about healing. They are all important, but they are all secondary things. The number one priority in the church is listening to what Jesus says. It can be done

2011/12 Luke Study 34 Wits UBF 11. Mar. 2012 South Africa

through personal prayer, a personal or group Bible study and listening to the message at the Sunday service. Even though we do a lot of things in the name of Jesus, if we miss this number of priority, listening to the words of God, learning and teaching the Bible, we miss everything. We will lose a joy of serving Jesus. Instead we will complain about other people who are less dedicated to the church. We will lose insight and wisdom of what is right and what is wrong. We will be too much focused on things on earth rather than things in heaven. The single priority for all Christians is to hear the revealed word of God because that is prior to every other spiritual duty. Meditating and teaching the words of God was the number priority of Jesus. Jesus taught the words of God all the times. Jesus knew the hidden motives and intention of the people who came to Him. They came to Jesus for healing. They came to Jesus for food. But Jesus always taught the words of God first because He knew the words of God was the words of eternal life and salvation. Lets go back to the questions again that I mentioned in the beginning. Are you distracted by many things? or Are you devoted to one thing? Our lives are so full of the unnecessary. The problem is they control us. They ruin our attitudes toward God and His words. They twist our number one priority. We get frustrated over stuff politics, stuff that we get ourselves involved in daily. Instead commit your life to one thing. Deuteronomy 8:3 says Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. Thats our prior thing. Nothing is better than hearing the Lord speaks. Nothing is that important. Nothing compares to that. When that opportunity is there, you must grasp it. Our life is too short to be distracted by what is not necessary. Our life is too important to be distracted by what are secondary things. We mustnt lose the number one priority, listening to the words of God. Thats why coming to the Sunday worship service is the most important thing that we mustnt lose it. Though we participate in many other church activities if we lose it, we will lose everything. We came to the worship service today. Considering our life issues, problems, many things have to be done quickly, it is only by Gods grace to be here to listen to the words of God. The Lord is with us. Its foolish to be distracted by secondary things while Jesus is with us. Jesus said to Martha and Mary Only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her (42). No one and nothing has

the right to take the words we have from the Bible. No job, no person, no possession, no activity, no politicians, not even church activities have the right to keep us from hearing the words of God. No one and nothing has the right to keep us from listening to the words through Bible study and worship service. Not even church activities, not even any pastors or ministers has the right to keep us from hearing the words of God. That is the only one thing we should remember all the times. Martha, Martha, 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." Amen!
## Payer Topics ## 1) To pioneer 233 countries by 2041 2) General Director Msn. Abraham Kim 3) Africa Regional Conference in 2012 a) Acts 1:8 You will be my witnesses." b) to raise missionaries to pioneer 55 nations in Africa - West: Msn. Peter Park (Nigeria, Ghana, Cameroon) - East: Msn. Luke Lim (Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Kenya, Sudan, Egypt) - South: Msn. James Lee (South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Botswana, Namibia) 4) UP UBF Bible Conference (30th Mar ~ 1st Apr) 5) Wits UBF - Luke 1:1 bible study and testimony writing - Shep. Jacobs Sunday message - To purchase a Bible house - Shep. Lesedi for his PhD study in Canada - Shep. Desmond to find another job - Sis. Kagiso for getting a permanent job - Sis. Kamogelo for her heath, get a study loan - Shep. Matthew/Joans family