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LUKE 10:38-42

"Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus' feet, and heard his word. But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me. And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: but one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her." Luke 10:38-42

Martha, often misunderstood!


 A Preacher in his Study









Luke told the story. He no doubt relied on eye-witness testimony, maybe even one of the ladies themselves.

"Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus' feet, and heard his word. But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me. And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things: but one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her." Luke 10:38-42

The village was Bethany, nearly a suburb of Jerusalem.

And the home there was special to Jesus. Three of His friends, two sisters and their brother, lived there.

For centuries Preachers, teachers, and others have "seen" two personality types in this Text, busy Martha and contemplative Mary.

It looks like Jesus nearly "condemns" Martha, too much worry and fuss! While our Lord "approved" of Mary's position, sitting at His feet!

But, have we misread this Passage?

Was it Martha's "serving" that Jesus downplayed? Or was it perhaps some of the "baggage" that came with it?

Martha, in "bad" light here!

But, and here's the point of our Verses these days, or one of the points anyway, Martha was an absolutely essential character in this home! Maybe even the "main" character!

I guess what I'm trying to say is this.

Instead of presenting Martha negatively here, I plan to look at her "good" points!

Thank God, somebody was in the kitchen preparing something to eat and drink, refreshments for a tired Lord!

And someone was close enough to Jesus to received His kind "correction," without falling to pieces too!

And who knows? Soon as Martha had the meal prepared, she might have been headed straight to Jesus, to sit on the other side of His feet, listening and learning right alongside Mary!

Of these two sisters, I'm not so sure but that Martha might have been "closest" to Jesus, after all!

I think both Jesus and Martha were "firstborns" in their respective families. I know Jesus was! And we are plainly told that the house in which this event occurred belonged to Martha, "her house" Luke carefully recorded.

Thank the Lord, at certain times anyway, somebody's in the kitchen!

Somebody mopped the floor!

Someone went to the grocery store!

Someone was in charge!

And these things are not lost to our Lord's consciousness.

Martha and Jesus, join us for the journey!

This short Bible Study, only a few days in length, is dedicated to all the "servers" who visit this site.

May your number increase!

And by the way, thank you for all you've done through the years!

Truth be told, we don't have to go back years to find your "trail" of good works, either!

Yesterday alone will suffice!

For you're always busy!

Never still!

Getting a lot accomplished for every minute you work, too!

Efficiency personified!

Without you all, I don't know where the work of the Lord would be.

Pass the meat, please.

                                                                           --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




Jesus traveled a lot in Luke's Gospel. Best I can count, three trips into Jerusalem. And three trips back out of the city.

The little village of Bethany is nearby.

"Now it came to pass, as they went, that He entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received Him into her house." Luke 10:38

Since our focus is going to center on Martha, notice that she is mentioned first.

Before Mary.

And certainly before Lazarus.

The Lord took time to help ladies, too.

They were important to Him.

Other Jewish teachers, rabbis especially, minimized the women folk.

Our Text says that Martha "received" Jesus into the house. The verb is "hupodechomai," meaning "to gladly receive as a guest!"

She was delighted to see the Lord!

No matter how much work it might require to feed Him and His twelve, at least twelve, Disciples!

The verb is also framed in the "middle" voice. This indicates that Martha herself was impacted, maybe even changed, by the encounter! By her hospitality to the Saviour!

Jesus was warmly welcomed!

By the way, Martha's name is interesting. It means "she was rebellious," according to my computer's digital lexicon. However, some Bible dictionaries say her name means "bitter."

Either way, Jesus has made a difference!

This Bethany home is not the same!

Did you see who owned the house Jesus has entered?

"Now it came to pass, as they went, that He entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received Him into her house."

Martha did!

She's a responsible businesswoman of some kind. Or at least has enjoyed an income sometime in the past. Or she might have been the oldest child, thereby receiving the family home.

She sounds here like the industrious lady of Proverbs 31, always busy, always productive!

I believe Jesus and Martha were close.

Friends, even.

John 11:11 tells us that Lazarus and Jesus were "friends." Why not include the Sisters as well?

Most Bible studies of this short paragraph, Luke 10:38-42, neglect Martha altogether or else attack her for her mundane role in the kitchen!

But I am already, just from this first verse, liking this Jewish lady.

She loved Jesus and gladly extended Him hospitality! She "received" Him enthusiastically. Her actions spoke more loudly than her words, too!

And the "change" in her life is at least implied as well.

Martha, not longer "bitter!"

Martha, no longer "rebellious!"

Martha, humbly serving in the kitchen or wherever needed!

Jesus has changed every one of us too, back when we were saved.

And Martha, the landowner!

The real estate holder!

It was "her house!"

Talk about using one's possessions for Jesus!

Inviting Jesus into your home could be risky!

You might get your roof torn off!

Or a mob of people charging every entrance!

But, then again, you might get a One-on-one Bible class, too!

Martha, mentioned only here in Luke 10 and then again in John 11, the Lazarus incident!

But Martha who was a diligent worker!

Sounds like a spiritually well-balanced lady to me!

                                                                       --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




I have an Uncle who is an evangelist. I, at first when just a child, remember hearing him preach. He himself had an older Brother who was also an evangelist. A very famous one!

This younger Uncle lived, it seemed, "under the shadow" of the older one, the world-renown one!

Once I heard, actually more than once, Uncle Jack tell that every time Andrew is mentioned in the Bible he is merely called "Simon Peter's Brother!" My Uncle claimed the same fate, "Oliver's Greene's Brother!"

Well, in today's Text Martha faces a similar situation.

She is not Martha, of Bethany, a woman in her own right.

She is Martha, "sister to Mary!"


Mary who sat at Jesus' feet!

Mary who, every time you see her, for sure, is kneeling in front of our Lord!

1. Here in the Bethany home, Luke 10:39.

2. Anointing Jesus' Feet and wiping them with her hair, John 11:2 and 12:3.

3. And again at the death of Lazarus, John 11:32.

Martha, sister to that Mary!

Today's Verse, nearly already explained! "And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus' feet, and heard his word." Luke 10:39

The noun "sister" is spelled "adelphe," a feminine form of "adelphos." It means "someone born from the same womb." Yes, "delphus" is Greek for "womb." The prefix "a" this time is not a prohibitive, but a "connective" particle.

The name "Mary," etymologically much like that of "Martha," means "rebellion." Or some say, "bitter." Both names spring from the Hebrew noun "Miriam."

The verb "sat" is "parakathizo," the root, "kathizo," just meaning "to make to sit down." The prefix, a preposition, "para," means "alongside." Snuggled up close to Jesus! Listening and learning, seizing His every Word!

A good place to be!

A typical place for a follower of a great teacher!

The position of a disciple!

But Mary knew that Jesus was more than a rabbi!

More than a teacher!

She knew He was God the Son!

Yes, indeed, Martha had a special sister!

Mary was unique.

But that fact does not make Martha any less significant, either! These Lessons, this time anyway, are about Martha!

"And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus' feet, and heard his word." Luke 10:39

The verb "heard" is "akouo," from which English words like "acoustics" are derived. "To be not deaf!" Someone endowed with the God-given faculty of hearing, with understanding and perceiving also implied.

Lastly, the noun "word" is "logos." It highlights the content of what was said, not merely the sound waves produced! The "logic" behind the words, the real message! 

Thank God for Mary!

But, don't forget, Martha is in the kitchen!

Preparing a meal for thirteen, at least, hungry travelers, not counting her own family.

Martha was the stabilizing factor in the home, too. I base that on events at Lazarus' death. Mary sure didn't hold together very well.

Martha was perhaps not as studious as Mary, but maybe more industrious!

Mary was the romantic, Martha the pragmatist!

What Martha did might have been less important than what Mary did, granted. But I suspect that crowd, the dear Lord included, soon sat down at table and enjoyed the fellowship there too! A well prepared meal!

All I'm saying is this. Thank God for those who do the less glamorous jobs, too! And who often do them alone! Or with little support!

Yes, thank God for Martha!

And thank God for all you ladies reading these pages who can't leave a dirty dish in the sink overnight! Who cook and cook at Homecoming, bringing enough food to feed an army! And whose homes really are orderly and neat!

Yes, such ladies do exist!


Their numbers are fading, I think, but they are still here!

Martha types!

You are important, too!

And I salute you today.

                                                                       --- Dr. Mike Bagwell 

Any Church, really ...

... Without a few "Marthas" in its midst, will suffer and lack in many areas! Be sure of that! Find a "Martha" somewhere this weekend and express your appreciation to her. Or, Brethren, if you're married to one, get her out of the kitchen for once, and take her out to eat! Maybe she can unbusy herself long enough to do that, anyway!




Our Text, Luke 10:38-42, is classic New Testament narrative. "Lukan" style, they say, merely indicating that Doctor Luke, the physician, is the man God used to pen these words. "But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me." Luke 10:40

How typical!

Two sisters, different as night and day, expressing their innermost traits of character. One working, the other musing, thinking, learning!

Generally speaking, the less favored of the two is, no doubt, Martha.

At least that's so if this Text is all we know about her. It nearly seems that Jesus rebukes her, mildly so, but nonetheless so.

But I am suggesting in this series of studies that we have misunderstood Martha! That she has wrongly been given a "less than honorable" place in the story. Not by the Lord Jesus, but by us!

It all begins with these terse words: "But Martha was cumbered about much serving ...."

Jesus has come to Bethany!

To his favorite home there!

Martha's house!

Martha has obviously "taken in" her younger sister Mary and brother Lazarus, too. We know it's "her" house because Luke said so. "Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house." Luke 10:38

The older sister, presumed older because she owns the home and seems to command authority over her sister, has on her shoulders the responsibility of a meal, a dozen or more places for her guests to sleep, plenty of water, firewood for cooking, clean towels and blankets, and no telling what else.

In the midst of these duties, Luke noted: "Martha was cumbered about much serving."

That verb, "cumbered," translates "perispao." Its root, "spao," means "to draw, to draw out," as one does with a sword that's quickly needed! Pulling it out of its holder! So, "spao" suggests something that's being "pulled" in different directions. Eventually it came to mean "distracted!" In other words, "torn and conflicted!"

The prefix, "peri," suggests these distractions are coming from every direction, all the way "around" the individual!


Too much to do!

Too many jobs at once!


More tasks bidding attention than any one human can heed!

We all know the feeling!

Had she just had a little help, all would have stayed under control!

I am frustrated for her!

I'm pulling for you, Martha!

I admire your desire to please Jesus!

Thank you for caring!

No matter what the commentators say, or the preachers and teachers, I'm with you!

You are the heroine of the story to me!

The word "serving," describing Martha's activities right now, is spelled "diakonia." It's from "diako," probably meaning "to run errands!"

Little jobs!

Lots of little jobs!




Clean linen!

Only the best for Jesus!

"But Martha was cumbered about much serving ...," true, of course! But these words could be negatively construed. Martha was "less loving" of Jesus, some have implied.

But I prefer to look at her positively!

At least she was trying!

The Lord was not going to leave her house hungry!

Or sleepy!

Or neglected!

Serving, working, sweating!

Bless you sweet heart, Martha!

I've got a question.

Why couldn't Mary have helped a little in the kitchen before sitting down at Jesus' feet? What would have been wrong with that?

And if the ladies who customarily traveled with Jesus and His Disciples, mentioned in Luke 8:1-3, Joanna and Susanna and Mary Magdalene, were present, why didn't they help too?

Why didn't Peter or John do something? They knew how to cook, fishing all those years like they did.

Nobody helped!

Yet Martha kept on working!

To the point of exhaustion!

To the point of exasperation!

Yet our Text never tells us that she quit!

This meal, be sure, was served!

But, Brother Bagwell, Jesus could have turned rocks into bread that day! The cooking and cleaning were unnecessary. 

Jesus did work miracles. But He never performed one to supply His own personal culinary needs!

And Martha knew that!

To the real "workers" in our Churches today.

To the "ladies" who make Homecoming possible.

To you "girls" who still know how to vacuum and wash and make casseroles and cornbread and banana pudding, we "salute" you today!

To you "Martha" types!

Our Churches would be much poorer places without you!

I know you get "cumbered."

I know you probably could use help, most of the time. Then again, some of you might just want the rest of us "to stay out of your way!"

You will, undoubtedly, one way or another, get it done!

Your determination is awesome!

Your resolve is beautiful!

Your love for Jesus, though different than some of your sisters, is just as real! If not more so!



And Jesus agrees with my assessment this morning, too.

John 11:5 tells us: "Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus." See this carefully.

Who is mentioned first?

Not the meditative Mary, whose name is not even given!

Not even sweet Lazarus!

Jesus loved Martha!


He knows by our actions how much we love Him, too!

Not just our words!

And, that being the case, you "Martha" ladies of Christendom leave all the rest of us ... in the dust!

You're that far ahead!

Bless you.

Maybe we will catch up with you ... some day.

Here's the Lord's testimony about one such lady: "She hath done what she could!" Mark 14:8

Not said what she could!

Not sat where she could!

Not sang what she could!

Not even smiled where she could!

She did things ... for Jesus!

To you "doers" today, you "Martha" girls, again I say it, may your number increase!

Oh, how we need you in these last days!

We ought to appreciate you more than we do, much more.

                                                                                --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




It's their nature!

If I might say it, God made them that way!

"Problem solvers," and that's exactly what Martha was, or "servers," folks given to meeting practical needs in the lives of others, tend to be a little bit "take-overish!"

I'm trying not to use the word "bossy!"

Watch Martha in today's verse. "But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me." Luke 10:40

She "came" to Jesus with her frustrations!

"Ephistemi" is the verb, a blend of "epi" and "histemi." It means "to stand" in front of someone, here Jesus! She's literally practicing Hebrews 4:16, though it had not yet been written! "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need."

People like Martha, without whom the Church would be so much poorer, have no trouble approaching others, with ideas to solve problems anyway!

"Lord, there's too much to do here! Ask my Sister to help, please. That alone will solve several problems."

By the way, her approaching Jesus like this is not all that unusual. I'd say it's a habit! Later, when Lazarus dies, four days after his passing really, "Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him: but Mary sat still in the house." John 11:20, She's coming to Jesus again!

Martha is a "do-something" kind of lady!

Thank God for her, and those like her!

Back to our verse: "Martha ame to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone?" She's getting a little "bold," here! But I'm still not going to turn against her!

The verb "dost care" translates "melo," meaning "to be of concern, to have regard for, to think something over carefully." 

"Lord, it's just not like You. You are the Most Caring Person I've ever known! If we are to treat You right, much work must be done!"

The "dost Thou not care" is probably not directed against Jesus, not nearly as much as "my sister hath left me" is directed against Mary!

A little bit of sibling rivalry surfaces here!

"Servers" like Martha have a keen sense of fairness!

They want to "balance" the work load!

And 99% of their ideas are pretty good, too!

The verb "hath left" is spelled "kataleipo," meaning "forsaken!" Intensely so! Abandoned!

We've got another "older" child versus "younger" child situation here, I think. Remember the Father in Luke 15! The "elder brother" was a worker! The "younger" son, the "prodigal" we say, was a romantic!

Lord help us if the world was full of Marys and Prodigals! There would be a whole lot of loving, but not much working!

Then comes the real jewel!

Martha continues: "Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me."

The very idea!

But, it was a good idea!

Think of it! "Lord, this is what You should do, make Mary get up and come help me!"

"Right now, too!"

Martha, in her natural mindset, wants to get things going!

"Mary, I'll cook. You go check the linens and washcloths and be sure the bedroom is tidy!"

Don't forget, Jesus seldom traveled alone! He brings with Him 12 Disciples and, often, a host of others! Plus, after word gets out that Jesus is in town, the whole city, its sick folks anyway, will be flocking to the door!

Martha is burdened by these circumstances!

Again I say it, someone has to care!

"Martha" types, while perhaps shy in other areas, are pretty bold when it comes to practical problem-solving!

"Lord, bid her therefore that she help me."

The verb "bid" is the imperative form of "lego." Lord, say this to her! Putting the very words in Jesus' mouth!

That's precious!

That's bold!

That's closeness!

Wonder if Martha knew Isaiah 45:11? "Thus saith the LORD, the Holy One of Israel, and his Maker, Ask me of things to come concerning my sons, and concerning the work of my hands command ye me."

She just practiced it, whether she knew it or not!

How would we ever get anything done at Church, at the house, on the job, anywhere, if we did not have people like Martha on the scene?

I thank God for them.

They have done a lot for me and our Ministry through the years! And they did "tons" of things for my Darling Wife!

I'll not turn against them!

I'm reminded of a verse that tells us something about Heaven! Eternally, John says in Revelation 22:3, "And His servants shall serve Him!"

In Glory!

For evermore!

Martha was just getting a head start!

She wanted to "do" for Jesus!

And I'll guarantee you this, too.

What she did that day would have been "first-class!"

Matching towels, not hand-me-downs!

The best china too, not the everyday stuff!

"And we'll use those new sheets. He must have the master bedroom also! The rest of us will sleep outside, under the stars tonight!"

For Jesus, the best!

Left alone, had the Lord not stopped her, Martha would have made Jesus a King that day! In her house, anyway!

The rest of you can "jump on" her, if you wish.

Rebuke her if you please. Many ahead of you already have. It even "looks" like Jesus did, at first. But I'm telling you, He did not!

Meanwhile, I'll just defend her. And admire her. And thank God for those just like her who are still on this earth!

Saved folks who serve their fellow Believers!

Even if they do get a little "pushy" occasionally!

Seldom anymore, if ever, especially since Sister Norma died, do I leave a Service without something in my hands, something a dear child of God, a Martha "look-alike," shared to help Brother Bagwell in one way or another.

It happened last night!

And last week in Tennessee, doubly so!

And last week in Dallas, Georgia!

It even happened at the motel room yesterday afternoon, while I had gone to Wendy's to get my nuggets and salad!

A basket of fruit and snacks and goodies!





Thank you all, too!

You are a blessing!

                                                                            --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

And I'll promise you this.

When we get to Heaven, we are going to find out that when Jesus told Martha, "Thou are troubled by many things," He had a kind smile on His Face! And maybe even a twinkle in His Eye! And His softest, most loving tone of voice, too!

He was closer to her than we think!

"Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus." Notice the order of the names here in John 11:5. That's important! Our Lord loves the folks who get things done!




Martha, busy as she could be preparing things for Jesus, asked for one thing. And only one thing that I can see.

"Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me." Luke 10:40

She asked for a little "help."

That verb is quite technical. It is "sunantilambanomai." What a combination of pronouns and prefixes and suffixes!

It's root is "lambano" and means "to take with the hand." She's asking for Mary to come "lend her a hand!" The preposition "anti" suggests Mary's working nearby, just "opposite" Martha, perhaps right there in the kitchen! And the prefix "sun" is a little word that means "with," working with her older Sister.

This particular verb is also formed as a subjunctive, in that mood. It is expressing Martha's desire at that time. Mary had not moved yet, not in Martha's direction. I guess she never did.

The desired "help" never came. The subjunctive verb here never was fully realized! It never became an indicative verb!

Also, "sunantilambanomai" is in the middle voice. We don't even have middle voice verbs in English! We are here being told that any "help" Martha can get will be deeply "appreciated," will "impact" her and make her job much lighter. Martha will be "changed" by the proposed assistance.

But, of course, as we all know by now, Mary did not leave Jesus' side.

In fact, Jesus disallowed Martha's request. Or so it seems. At that particular moment, maybe our Lord needed adoration and affirmation more than He did anything else. Something which, I guarantee you, Martha could supply as well as Mary!

Yes, Martha asked for help.

I looked, and our verb here, half a mile long, is only found twice in all the New Testament.

The other place?

Romans chapter 8.

Verse 26.

Automatically you know it's about the Holy Spirit!

"Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities." That's the part of the verse that's fundamental to our discussion today.

The Holy Spirit is our 'Helper!"

Our real "Helper!"

What Martha was not allowed to finish, the Holy Spirit never fails to finish!

While Martha was a bit "frustrated," the Holy Spirit is always at peace and in control!

And yes, the dear Holy Spirit, more than anyone, is the "sun" part of "sunantilambanomai." He is "with" me, all the time! He never leaves us! Not forsakes us!

And again yes, the Holy Spirit performs the "anti" part of the verb too! He is opposite us, better yet, "anti" can mean "in our stead." The Holy Spirit does "for me" certain things which I cannot do for myself!

Praying, for example!

Back to Romans 8:26. "Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us ...."

Intercession for us!

Praying on our behalf!

Martha, the human helper!

The Holy Spirit, the divine Helper!

It takes both kinds, Mary's and the Holy Spirit's, to properly serve the Lord!

The Church just would not be the Church without ladies like Martha, and a few men too, who "help" so diligently.

And the Church would not even exist really, were it not for the precious Holy Spirit, Helper in the Triune Godhead!

These truths makes Martha look all the lovelier!

She longed to do the same things for Jesus, "helping Him, "serving" Him, "providing for" Him, that the Holy Spirit longs to do for us!

Thank you, Martha.

And, especially, thank You, Holy Spirit!


That's a lot of "help!"

                                                                            --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

Thank the Lord today ...

For all the help He has provided you this very week as you've tried to love and serve his Name!




It's hardly a rebuke!

A mild correction maybe, what Jesus said to Martha. But we preachers sure have used it to "beat her down" for centuries!

"And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things." Luke 10:41

The verb "answered," in its usual New Testament form, contains the verb "krino," which initially means "to judge!" The whole word "answered," in Greek, is "apokrinomai." Jesus had put some thought into what He is about to say. Of course, He never said anything wrong, anyway!

Isaiah 50:4 suggests that Jesus, every morning of His earthly life, awoke to His Father's Voice! "The Lord GOD hath given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary: he wakeneth morning by morning, he wakeneth mine ear to hear as the learned." Bible lessons, personal tutoring, every day!

Note that the Lord called her name twice, "Martha, Martha." That at least implies urgency!

Ask Abraham. "And the angel of the LORD called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I. And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou any thing unto him: for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son from me." Genesis 22:11-12

Ask Peter. "And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: but I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren." Luke 22:31-32

Or Saul of Tarsus, soon to be Paul the Apostle. "And as he journeyed, he came near Damascus: and suddenly there shined round about him a light from heaven: and he fell to the earth, and heard a voice saying unto him, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? And he said, Who art thou, Lord? And the Lord said, I am Jesus whom thou persecutest: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks." Acts 9:3-5

This "double" naming might also be a sign of endearment!

"Martha, Martha!"

Some critical information is about to be shared.

With Abraham, Isaac can now live! Do not slay the boy!

With Peter, there's hope! You will not be crushed by Satan! You will have a future, serving the Lord!

With Saul, salvation has come!

And with Martha, a "fine-tuning" of her love for the Lord! A strengthening and maturing of her whole life of "service" to Jesus!

What's about to be said is not a sign of anger!

Far from it!

It's a sign of love!

Even had it been a harsh remark, "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten." Jesus in Revelation 3:19.

"Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things." Again, from Luke 10:41.

The verb "art careful" is spelled "merimnao," meaning "to be anxious, to be worried," that kind of thing. It originally comes from "merizo," which means to take something and "pull it" to pieces!

That's a pretty good "word picture" of what frustration and fretfulness and worry will do! Tear you apart! Distract you to the point of uselessness! Steal your focus!

Martha, you can't properly serve Me with all that inner turmoil! Calm down a bit! Supper will be fine! I missed forty days of food during that wilderness temptation. Remember, I told you about it.

Don't let things "tear you up!" Not to the point you have reached, Sweet Martha. "Let not your heart be troubled." John 14:1 uses a verb that's got to be called a synonym, "tarasso," "agitated, in commotion, disquieted."

Then, Martha is "troubled" too. "Thou art careful and troubled about many things." Now our Lord switches to "turbazo," derived ultimately from "thoreo" it is thought, "to make loud noises, to be alarmed," even at times "to be frightened." Martha has worked herself into a frenzy! Scared and fretting over the outcome of the meal and its surrounding details. Maybe other areas of hospitality too.

The Latin word "turba" may be in play here, too. It just means a "crowd!" Hear the "noise and uproar?" The "uncontrolled" nature of the masses?

All these things will further hinder Martha!

And Jesus wants her to know that, intensely!

Jesus is not hurting her. He is helping her, for sure!

Again I remind you, "Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister." John 11:5

When Jesus warned Martha about being frustrated over "many things," He likely means "too many things!"

Haven't we all done this?

Of course.

Now again, notice please. It's critically important. Go back and read the Text again if you need to ...

Jesus did not tell her to quit cooking!

Jesus did not tell her to come sit down!

Jesus did not tell her to stop preparing bunks and baths and snacks for tomorrow, either!

Jesus just cautioned her about being so impatient, especially with her younger sister!

Jesus may have known that the Disciples were weak, physically weak, from the long walk that morning! They may have desperately needed just what Martha was preparing!

Mary is doing fine!

Let her alone!

She might have been "in the way" in the kitchen anyway!

I don't think she was the most efficient housekeeper!

If Martha can get focused again, more things will come out of that kitchen than you ever dreamed!

Servers are workers!

Servers are efficient!

Servers can produce!

But, also, servers are worriers!

I'll take three positives and one negative in a helper, an employee, a Christian, anytime!

That's a three to one majority for some extremely godly Christian traits!

Excuse me.

I still say, "Bravo for Martha!"

Without her and her sisters, at Church Homecomings and the like, we would all be sitting around eating plates full of kindness and love and teaching and adoration!

Not plates of barbeque and stew and salad and dessert!

Thank God for the lovers! That's Mary and her kin!

But, and I mean it, thank God for the servers as well. Martha, that's your and your kind!

Girls, ladies, servers, stay busy for Jesus!

No one else can take you place!

Or at least, no one else will!

Martha, on this Website you will not be belittled!

Too many ladies just like you have helped Sister Norma and me through the years!

Too many meals shared!

Too many pants hemmed!

Too many pies baked!

Too many children watched!

Too many practical things done!

Time and time again!

Let's hear it for the "Marthas" of the Church!

We thank God for you!

                                                                             --- Dr. Mike Bagwell




I've tried to study the grammar and vocabulary and meaning of today's verse, carefully so.

Jesus said to Martha, sister of Mary and Lazarus, all dear friends of our Lord, "But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her." Luke 10:42

I believe our Lord's words have often been misunderstood. He is not here rebuking Martha!

Instead, He is saying something like this. "Martha, one thing is needful." That is, "Only one thing is left to do."

Martha had done the cooking!

And maybe the cleaning!

And perhaps she already had cots and pallets and beds made for Jesus and His followers ... for a good night's rest!

Probably the table was already set, too!

That's how the "Martha" crowd works!

While we're sitting around fellowshipping, however important that may be, and I do not discount its significance, Martha has worked circles around us!

Martha-types can do five jobs for our every one!

Jesus is saying, "Martha, you've done all the work. Mary has chosen the one thing that's left! The only thing left! And it's a good thing, too, not a bad thing!"

He did not say that Mary had chosen the "best" thing or the "most important" thing, not at all!

"But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her." Luke 10:42

"And Martha, since Mary is not very good in the kitchen, burnt food not being one of My favorite selections, let's not take away her choice!"

"Let her sit her and enjoy the time with her Lord!"

"She, perhaps more than most, certainly more than these Disciples, understands Who I am! And she is drinking in every word I say!"

Jesus and Martha "understood" each other!

She had, no doubt, prepared the meal He most enjoyed, and it was waiting for Him, soon as the sermon was finished!

At least, that's how I read these lines.

You will never convince me that, after Martha had worked so hard in the kitchen and around the house, that Jesus would then insult her!

Or be unkind to her!

Or even sarcastic!

Or cut her short!

Or frustrate her intentions!

Martha ...

"One thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her." Luke 10:42

The term "one thing" is represented in the Text by "de enos," translated, "but one thing" (or task or item or job or whatever, as long as it's in the neuter gender), that "one thing" being defined by the reader according to the context of the verse.

"One thing is needed," Martha!

"Needful" is spelled "cheria," meaning "a necessity, a lack."

One thing is lacking!

Only one, Martha had done all the rest!

"Cheria" is derived from the verb "chraomai," meaning "to receive a loan!" Only one "debt" yet remained to be paid, to Jesus, not a meal! Not a place to rest! Not clean towels for a bath!

But folks to sit and listen as He taught God's precious Word!

And Mary excelled at doing that!

Folks who can't cook or clean or organize or administrate often are extremely good listeners!

Adoring followers!

Martha, obviously, was a bit of a "take control" kind of lady!

She inherently gave orders, being, in all likelihood, the older sister.

She even once told Jesus what to do!

How's that for "comfort" in His Presence!

"One thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part," Jesus to Martha again.

Mary had "picked out" the last remaining privilege that day! Sitting and hearing Jesus!

And what Mary chose, "eklegomai" in Greek, was good! This is our word "eclectic," or "choosing items from different categories."

Mary had not selected a "doing with my hands" task.

Not then.

She had elected a "doing with my ears" thing!




Loving her Lord!

How can that be wrong?

"And Martha, since you excel in nearly everything around here, let's not take Mary's part away from her!"

Let's let her alone!

For, you see, Jesus not only loved Martha and her brother Lazarus. He loved Mary as well.

The expression "good part," which Mary had loved so, is "agathos meros." The "good, intrinsically good, beneficial within itself," part! That's what "agathos" means.

And Jesus might even be using "meros" as a "part" of the prepared meal, too! Mary's "dish" is to sit here and listen to Me!

That's what she is bringing to the table!

And Martha, that's all right!

"I do not slight all the work you have done, precious Martha! But let's not offend sister Mary either. She has done well, too!"

Doesn't that sound like Jesus?

"One thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her." Luke 10:42

"Taken away" is "aphairo," just meaning "to lift up and remove." Mary, precisely fulfilling the role of a learner or disciple, to Jesus the Teacher, the rabbi, has provided a great service to our Lord, right alongside Martha's cooking!

And both have done that in which they excel!

They have exercised their spiritual talents and abilities and gifts!

Jesus is a Genius!

The all wise One, from God!

God in human flesh!

God the Son!

Let's finish the worship service, or the class, whatever you want to call it.

Let Jesus complete His teaching and preaching.

Then, dinner's ready!

Thanks to, hope this does not upset anybody, thanks to Martha!

And to all the "Marthas" this week, at the Revival Meeting here in Dalton, and ladies, you know who I mean, this Preacher sincerely says, "Thank You!"

Thank you so much!

The Lord is using your kindness in more ways than I can ever explain!


One preacher recently said that every Bible storybook picture he had ever seen of her, she looked so ordinary, less than pretty!

The presentable one always being Mary.

The attractive one.

Not me.

I can't see her that way.

She was, if not in looks certainly in character, beautiful!

Of course, did Jesus ever see a lady ... or a man or a child or a leper ... in whom He did not see genuine beauty?

I can't quit this lesson, can I?


We respect you.

While many still "slight" you, we do not.

You have done well!

                                                                   --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

My Mom was a "Martha!"

Can you tell?

My wife was a "Mary!"

Hope you can tell that as well.

Both ladies are to be respected and honored.

And Jesus did so.




I had planned for yesterday to be the last lesson about Martha. But a few more thoughts have come, important ones, that I would like to share with you. Then, at the end of today's material, I want to tell you where we're going next. To another lady of Scripture! I guess Mother's Day, combined with my Darling's death, have heavily impacted my thinking.

I'll group these concluding thoughts numerically.

1. While Martha was in that kitchen working, why didn't someone offer to help her? Anybody?

She asked: "Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone?" Luke 10:40

Since Mary had not helped, could not one of the Disciples have done so? They could plainly see her frustration. She certainly did not try to hide it! They knew how to cook, being fishermen. They had washed pots and pans before, down by the seashore!

Or one of those ladies who often traveled with Jesus? Luke 8:1-3 tells us about them. "And it came to pass afterward, that he went throughout every city and village, preaching and shewing the glad tidings of the kingdom of God: and the twelve were with him, and certain women, which had been healed of evil spirits and infirmities, Mary called Magdalene, out of whom went seven devils, and Joanna the wife of Chuza Herod's steward, and Susanna, and many others, which ministered unto him of their substance."

Where's Mary Magdalene?

Or Joanna?

Or Susanna?

We don't know the answers to these questions.

But I can resolve to do this. The next time I see someone, a brother or sister in Christ, needing help, I can do something! I can ask if they need a hand! I can try to relieve their frustration! I can obey Galatians 5:13, "By love serve one another."

2. Jesus told Martha, "Thou art careful and troubled about many things: but one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her."

Almost as if to say, "Martha, My needs are met. At least My most basic needs. I am content!"

Of course the Lord is content. He never was sinfully dissatisfied! He lived a perfect life!

But that's the point! Martha wanted to do more than meet Jesus' basic needs! She wanted Him to be treated lavishly and royally and graciously in her house! She wanted to do more than the minimum!

And I admire her immensely for that kind of attitude!

Like the servant in Luke 17:10, "So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do." Martha wanted to go beyond the call of Duty!

The "minimum" did not interest her!

Bravo for Martha!

3. Martha too was tired. She was even getting a little bit "grumpy" it appears. Yet she put Jesus' feelings and needs ahead of her own! Exhausted or not, a meal was going to be prepared! Beds made! Any torn clothing patched, perhaps! A long list!

All jobs completed before any rest could come her way!

Again, don't you admire that kind of dedication?

Jesus first!

Others second!

Yourself last!

4. Also I've wondered, and that's all we can do, what Jesus might have preached that day in that little Bethany home. What kind of Sermon did Mary hear, there at Jesus' feet? The same Sermon Martha would have caught "pieces" of now and then and she shuttled back and forth from the kitchen to the table area.

I would not be surprised, not one bit, when we get to Heaven to learn that Jesus used a Text like this: "But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant." Matthew 23:11

Or this one: "Whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister; and whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant." Matthew 20:26-27

Jesus, maybe preaching on Servanthood, with Martha in the background modeling the Sermon every single minute!

Martha, you have earned our respect.

We love you in the Lord!

Then, lastly, I'll close with just one more verse. It applies to Martha's situation so beautifully. "For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister."

According to Hebrews 6:10 here, what Martha did for Jesus will never be forgotten!

She will be rewarded!

She was indeed "ministering to the saints!"

And, even more so, to the Saviour, "toward His Name!"

After all, she certainly gave much more than "a cup of cold water!" And we all know what Jesus said about that. "And whosoever shall give to drink unto one of these little ones a cup of cold water only in the name of a disciple, verily I say unto you, he shall in no wise lose his reward." Matthew 10:42

Thank God for Martha!

                                                                          --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

Lord willing,

Tomorrow let's start in John 8, with that lady. The one to whom Jesus said: "Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more." The woman who was, as we say, "taken in adultery."

What a story of the marvelous Grace of God that will be!


Can you tell that Mother's Day is Sunday? I wanted to write something that respected the ladies. Sister Norma would have liked that too. I miss her so much this week, every week, really.

Brother Bagwell, May 8, 2009.



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