Sermon Starters

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Thomas F. Fischer, M.Div., M.S.A., Editor

Ninth Sunday After Pentecost
Series C

From Rev. Kelly Bedard

The Main Course
Luke 10:38-42

A. Appetizers

    1. Our rightful work perverted from being joyful to being demanding and burdensome

    2. Unfaith: if we don't get it done--and done right--we won't be accepted by God

B. Appetizing!

    1. Our self-worth emanates from our dining on The One Thing Needful

    2. Living in partnership with the most hospitable Lord of Hosts


1. perispao (verse 40): to draw around, to draw away, distract; metaphorically, to be driven about mentally, to be distracted; to be over-occupied, too busy, about a thing; used only here in the NT

2. merimnao (verse 41): to be anxious; to be troubled with cares; to care for, look out for (a thing); to seek to promote one's interests; caring or providing for

3. turbazo (verse 41): from turbe (Latin turba, a crowd); disturb, trouble; to be troubled in mind, disquieted; this is the only occurrence in the NT of this particular word, but related terms refer to a "riot" or "(loud) commotion." It refers to the commotion (weeping and wailing) and related distress at a death. It refers to the riots the Jews instigated to run Paul out of town. It seems to include noise besides just the inner turmoil. Don't we all know people who make sure that everyone else knows about their inner anxieties?

4. Luke uses three different words which depict [Martha's] behaviour as being distracted, worrying and bothering. Luke does not appear to be attacking the practical roles which belong to being a good host, but the preoccupation with them... Being too worried about the arrangements may subvert the purpose of the visit. It is a close cousin to bureaucracy and legalism: being so worried about doing the right thing that what really needs to be done is left undone or is done poorly. Martha might end up never hearing Jesus' word... The story is not told to punish these Marthas, though
it is often used that way. In fact it heads in the opposite direction. Martha's traditional roles are now thrown open for all and embraced in the Word. The one who speaks will, a later Gospel tells us, also wash the disciples' feet. (William Loader)

5. If we censure Martha too harshly, she may abandon serving altogether, and if we commend Mary too profusely, she may sit there forever. There is a time to go and do; there is a time to listen and reflect. Knowing which and when is a matter of spiritual discernment. If we were to ask Jesus which example applies to us, the Samaritan or Mary, his answer would probably be "Yes." (Brian Stoffregen)

6. If there was rivalry between [Martha and Mary], it seemed to arise from their calling as disciples that motivated them to want the best for Jesus. Martha wanted his needs met in the way in which she was most comfortable, and Mary fulfilled her vocation in the manner which best suited her. Both were trying to "outdo one another in showing honor" to Jesus. They seemed to be of one spirit in that desire. (Wesley White)

7. Jesus is not saying that one should not wait on guests. He is rather saying that more important than waiting on them is enjoying them and loving them. We should never be so busy that we have no time for love. (Andrew Greeley)

8. Once upon a time a mommy had such a wonderful time on her vacation that she decided that on the last weekend she would have a party for the neighbors at their summer place in gratitude for what good friends they had been. She hoped that she could do that every summer. "Let's have pizza!" her kids said--as kids always say. "We can grill some hamburgers," her husband said. "That's easy" (which is what he always said). "No," said the mommy. "We should have a really NICE dinner" (which is what she always said). The rest of the family groaned to themselves because they knew what that meant--a whole day of hard work for everyone during which the mommy would act like it wasn't her idea but theirs and now they weren't helping enough. 

The rest of the family thought that beef bourgeone was a little much for a summer dinner. There was no reason to clean up the house like it was just before Christmas. If they had to have Caesar salad, couldn't you make it out of a bag. Was it really necessary to bake potatoes? Wouldn't potato salad be just as good? Couldn't you buy the apple pies at the bakery instead of making a half dozen of them? And what was wrong with packaged pie crust? Well, the party was a feast which everyone enjoyed. They would have enjoyed it a lot more, however, if the mommy wasn't so worn out that she didn't have any fun. (Andrew Greeley)

9. The one thing needed-this is the first and in some sense the last answer I can give-is to be concerned ultimately, unconditionally, infinitely. (Paul Tillich)

From Rev. Wayne Dobratz

Martha and Mary: About Priorities
Lk. 10:38-42

I. Martha was the head of the house and the older sister
A. She took on the task of feeding Jesus and the Disciples
1. That meant feeding at least 15 or 16 people
2. This was a service to our Lord in His "home away from home" at Bethany.

B. But she got too "wrapped up" in it.
1. Jesus told her that she was 'anxious'. The word is an old verb for worry
and anxiety which means to be divided or distracted. Jesus had warned
against this in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6:25, 28, 31, 34. See also
Luke 12:11, 22, 26).
2. Jesus also described her as being 'troubled'--this is a rare word which
points to the outer agitation her inner anxiety portrayed.

C. Martha's mistake has some modern examples:
1. When preparing the meal is more important than worship. The meal can wait. Learning Jesus' Word should not.
2. When otherwise necessary work gets more attention than the one thing we really need--While one must "make hay while the sun shines", that can easily become a
mix-up in priorities.

II. Little sister Mary got it right
A. She was sitting at the feet of Jesus--an Oriental act of submission to His Word.

B. She was listening to His Word--Jesus seems to say to Martha that only one dish was really necessary for the meal instead of the "many" about which she was so anxious.

C. We sometimes refer to God's Word as "soul food." Jesus is telling Martha (and us) that the best dish on the table is fellowship with Him. We are to take care of the "soul food" before food for the body.

D. "It shall not be taken away from her." Jesus pointedly takes Mary's side over against Martha's "fussiness."

E. Jesus was preparing them for the storm that was to come in Lazarus' sickness and death.
1. They needed spiritual strength--John 11:20-22
2. They needed to trust in Him as "The Resurrection and the Life"--Cf. John

BIBLE READERS COMPANION: "Only one thing is needed" " (10:36-42). The
Samaritan story illustrates love for neighbor. The Mary and Martha story illustrates love for God. Martha was busy preparing a large meal for Jesus and His disciples. Mary ignored her sister and sat at Jesus' feet, the traditional place of a disciple. Jesus' rebuke might be paraphrased, "Just a casserole, Martha, not a smorgasbord." Love for God is expressed best in listening and responding to Jesus' words, not in busily doing "for" Him.

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This page was revised on: Friday, January 20, 2006 12:10:34 PM