Branson Bible Church
Sunday Service 02.21.2021
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  • Jesus, Thank You
      • Psalm 73:25–28ESV

  • 10,000 Reasons
  • Sovereign Over Us
  • I Surrender All
      • Luke 10:38–42ESV

  • Sit or Serve?

    Mary is sitting, and Martha is busy serving. So she’s totally justified in her complaint, right? Well, apparently not.
    I mean, they’re hosting Jesus and lot of other disciples. There’s so much to be done, and of course the hostess wants it done well for their honored guest. But there Mary sits, just listening to Jesus. Shouldn’t she instead be up serving? ...Apparently not.
    And they share this home, so surely she can share in this responsibility. Surely Martha is justified in her complaint? Unless there’s something better, a higher priority. That is exactly the point Jesus makes.
    Martha isn’t justified in her complaint to Jesus because Mary has found, perhaps incidentally, that the higher priority, even more important than serving well, is learning from Jesus.
    I am at once convicted and passionate about this key truth in God’s word today! As we’ve been journeying expositionally through Luke together, this has to be one of my favorite passages so far. That’s because of what it teaches us about discipleship (the Christian life):
    Loving God requires listening to Jesus. Learning from Jesus precedes living for him.
    THE priority of the disciple, of the Christian walk, is to sit at the feet of Jesus, listening to his teaching. By hanging on his every word we will love God and learn how to respond rightly to him, how to order our lives in right relationship to him.
    First, let’s understand how Martha is busy with…

    Much Ado About Something... Just Not The Main Thing

    (Because there will be an emphasis today on reading and studying God’s word to understand and apply it, let me offer a really simple set of questions to ask as you study, especially with narrative. - Who, when & where, what & how, and why (What’s the main point? and Who cares, why does it matter)?
    Who is involved?
    - We have Martha and Mary and Jesus as the primary players.
    We get the vibe that Martha is the big sister, right? Or at the very least the matron of the home (since the text calls it her home... even though we learn in John 11:1 that this is also where her siblings Mary and Lazarus live, and it’s in Bethany)
    Martha’s motivation, at least initially, seems to be that she genuinely wants to be a hostess, and to do it with excellence. But (v. 40) she has burdened herself to the point of rushing around, drawn off and distracted (distressed and disturbed)… with much serving. Serving others is supposed to be a good thing. It is a good thing. The question soon becomes, is it the most important thing?
    What’s Mary doing? Well, she’s not helping! (That’s Martha’s perspective.) From Jesus’ perspective, we learn that she’s doing an even better thing, an essential thing, the central thing—she’s listening to Jesus to learn from him.
    (Martha would also think, based on their culture at the time) And since she’s a woman, it’s a little strange for a Mary to be acting like one of the disciples, listening to Jesus. Being a disciple is for the purpose of training to one day teach others what the Teacher has taught them. Isn’t this out of place and out of touch? With Jesus, it’s not. (Has Jesus limited discipleship to men? Even accepting biblical, God-ordained roles for leadership in the church and in the home, Jesus views women as equally vital in the life and ministry of his kingdom, as needing this same central priority of knowing him and obeying him. …sitting at his feet to listen to him, and love him, and learn from him.)
    When this scene unfolds with Martha, Jesus is doing what Jesus does—he’s teaching. And then, as he so often does, he takes the opportunity from surrounding circumstances and the reactions of those present to teach an important lesson.
    When & Where? (including its placement in the narrative)
    Luke doesn’t choose at this point to specify the exact location, nor necessarily give us a time in chronological order. From other biblical evidence we know that Mary and Martha and Lazarus live in Bethany (John 11:1), a village just a couple miles east of the temple in Jerusalem [map]. This place and this household is significant in Jesus’ ministry several times. Here’s a description of this Bethany from the Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible:
    “Village on the eastern slope of the Mt of Olives about a mile and a half east of Jerusalem. Jesus and his disciples sometimes stayed in Bethany when in Judea, as when they attended temple observances during Passover (Mt 21:17; Mk 11:11). Jesus was eating at the home of Simon the leper in Bethany when a woman came and anointed his head with costly perfume (Mt 26:6–13; Mk 14:3–9). Bethany was also the home of Mary and Martha and their brother Lazarus, where Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead (Jn 11:1, 18). The village was near Bethphage on an approach to Jerusalem (Mk 11:1; Lk 19:29) that Jesus followed in preparation for his triumphal entry into Jerusalem. In Bethany Jesus blessed his disciples after the resurrection and parted from them (Lk 24:50).” - Walter A. Elwell and Barry J. Beitzel, “Bethany,” Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 1988), 284–285.
    Because of the location, when this takes place isn’t completely certain, but it’s at least possible that although this trio of lessons is thematically organized, Luke isn’t chronologically that far our of order. They could be near Jerusalem for a particular Jewish feast, but we are yet some time away from the fulfillment of the hour when Jesus would be betrayed and suffer death and rise again. (still near the beginning of Luke’s theme for this section of his gospel retelling, “the Jerusalem Journey.”)
    Alternatively, Luke simply places it here in the narrative because of the importance of the lesson for understanding discipleship in the context of relating rightly to God and others. Rather than give these details (of when and where), Luke has instead placed the episode in the context of these three lessons from Jesus about relationships: a disciple’s responsibilities for relating to others, to Jesus in particular, and to God overall. - Jesus is the means to God, and he is the supreme teacher for how we are to be a true neighbor to others.
    What happens, & How does it happen?
    - Martha is so flustered by Mary sitting while she’s overwhelmed by trying to host well, that she boils over and sort of scolds Jesus with her question: “Lord, don’t you even care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her to help me.”
    In spite of being taken to task by this busy lady, Jesus responds with a gentle correction. Doesn’t he seem so tender when he says, “Martha, Martha”? …not sighing and shaking his head, but kindly urging her like a big brother... and a patient teacher. I interpret Jesus as saying, ‘Martha, take notice that you are overly anxious and troubled with all the details of trying to make things just so. But I don’t need things to be just perfect. You have opened your home and made us welcome; that is enough.’
    Even from practical reality in our own lives, we can relate to the idea of being overly concerned with the details of hosting to the detriment of simple friendship attention to our guests. (On some occasions hosting might be about doing fancy stuff to make someone feel special, but most times it’s about having people in your home to be with you. It’s less about pampering and more about friendship.)
    Jesus says, You are troubling yourself with many things, but only one thing is necessary (some manuscripts have, “but few things are necessary; in fact, only one”.) Mary has actually chosen the good portion, and we’ll not be taking that away from her… not me (Jesus), and certainly not you. “The right spiritual attitude is a possession we need never fear losing.” -Leon Morris, Luke: An Introduction and Commentary, vol. 3, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1988), 210.
    I believe Jesus uses “the good portion” as a deliberate play on words, with Mary rushing about to get them all cared for and fed and so on, but he isn’t referring to literal food. He means simply that what she has chosen is the best option, and it involves something that sustains us spiritually, an even more fundamental need that physical sustenance. And that sustenance comes from the mouth of the Lord.
    Deuteronomy 8:3 ESV
    And he humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that he might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.
    Why? (What’s the main point, and why does it matter?)
    Since this is not actually an inductive study, and I’m in fact preaching, I told you this in my introduction. - THE priority of the disciple, of the Christian life, is to sit at Jesus’ feet, listening to his teaching. By hanging on his every word we will love God and learn how to respond rightly to him, how to order our lives in right relationship to him.
    And why does that matter? - Loving God requires listening to Jesus. Learning from Jesus precedes living for him.

    Prioritize Sitting At Jesus’ Feet

    Sitting at Jesus’ feet is the priority. Serving, being busy doing good things for others, is secondary to the priority of listening to Jesus to love God, to learn from him how to order our lives in obedience to the God who made us.
    In order to apply this, there are some simple questions to help us with clarity and conviction. What does it mean to sit at Jesus’ feet? Why is that “the good portion,” why is that a higher priority than serving? How do we sit at Jesus’ feet? What kind of results can we expect?
    Listen to the word of Jesus to love him and learn from him. That’s a higher priority than being busy with trying to “make everything just right.” We get it, by doing so you’re trying to honor Jesus. But you’ve lost sight of something more critical: the Christian life is first about relationship to God. You can’t grow in a relationship with God without staying close and listening to Jesus. When we dig into his word to hear from him, to know him, then we will also love him, worship him, and live like him.
    Too many of us skip the better portion and go right to the serving! If you don’t serve Jesus with a heart of joy, trust, selflessness, and intimacy with him, then for our own part it’s all wasted. Fortunately for us, God still uses us, even when we’re going out of order like dum-dums. But how much better, how much more effective, how much more useful, how much more God-honoring would we be if we prioritized sitting at Jesus feet? Would we love better? Lead better? Be more joyful, patient, kind, generous, forgiving? Would we not be self-controlled, courageous, and faithful? (Fruit of the Spirit - Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control — What better way to allow the Spirit to control us than... SITTING AT THE FEET OF JESUS?) How often are we frustrated that we seem to obey the law of sin at work in us, that enemy within, rather than submitting to the Spirit of God who indwells believers? Don’t we submit to the Spirit more to battle the flesh when we are listening to God’s word—reading it, meditating on it, praying over it, memorizing it?
    I’m serious now, I am so convicted by this! When I’m not daily digging into God’s word to hear from Jesus, praying for God to use it by His Spirit to reveal sin and teach me to walk in his righteousness, what am I doing? I’ve lost sight of the priority! To love God and live for him, to worship Jesus and look like him and lead like him and love like him… I must order my life around sitting at his feet.
    Instead of trying to squeeze it in, I should order my life around it. …daily devotional reading and prayer, Bible studies with others, listening to excellent Bible teachers, reading books that aim to explain, expand, and apply God’s truth. That way when you go to work, go to school, go to that activity, your thinking revolves around what? When you take a break to veg and read fiction or watch tv, you will then evaluate everything according to what?
    (back in vs. 27, the lawyer had given a good answer about life’s priority and how that matters for eternity...) Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind… and love your neighbor as yourself. Serve the Lord with gladness. How do you do that? By first prioritizing listening to what God teaches about himself. The importance of this can hardly be overstated.
    There are many things in this life, or on any given day, that you might do… even good things. But there is one thing that you must do: sit at Jesus’ feet… to know him and to learn from him, in order to love him, to be like him, to live like him and lead like him.
    Am I (are you) anxious and troubled by many things? (And it isn’t as though I just get this right one time and then it’s over. I have to do this again and again when the tumultuous waves of responsibility swell.)
    Philippians 4:5b–7 ESV
    Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
    If you are anxious (over many things), slow down and sit at the feet of Jesus.
    Life carries with it some heavy burdens. Some of them are the result of the human condition and of general suffering. Some of them can creep up on us from within the privileged responsibility we’ve been given, the stress of serving others.
    Are you overwhelmed with the weight of living (the cares of life), frustrated by the world heading in the wrong direction? - There is peace and refreshment at the feet of Jesus.
    Are you ashamed from your recent or former sin? - There is forgiveness and freedom at the feet of Jesus.
    Are you weary from striving and serving? - There is rest and strength at the feet of Jesus. There is joy at the feet of Jesus.
    When you detect a loss of joy, stop everything and sit at the feet of Jesus.
    If you are jealous of others... or judgmental of how they are not serving the way you serve, take a chill pill and sit at the feet of Jesus.
    When you feel your first love slipping away, when your hunger for God is waning, sit at the feet of Jesus.
    What will sustain you when you suffer? When you are tired, when tragedy strikes, when you are torn between options and don’t know where to turn? Sit at Jesus’ feet to hear from God, to love God, to rest in God.
    Find joy, and meaning, and purpose… in God… by sitting humbly, submissively, attentively at the feet of Jesus.
    How then must we prioritize our lives? We sit at the feet of Jesus… to know him, to love him, to learn from him, to be like him.
    [In closing, listen attentively to the lyrics of this song from Steven Curtis Chapman, “Feet of Jesus,” and prayerfully consider specific application for your life.]
  • Feet Of Jesus
  • Receive The Glory

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