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Friday, July 16, 2010

+ PENTECOST + E I G H T + 2 0 1 0 +

Lexegete™ | Year C | St. Luke

July 18, 2010 (Lectionary 16)

Complementary Series

Genesis 18:1-10a
Psalm 15 (1)
Colossians 1:15-28
Luke 10:38-42

Semicontinuous Series

Amos 8:1-12
Psalm 52 (8)
Colossians 1:15-28
Luke 10:38-42

Prayer of the Day

Eternal God, you draw near to us in Christ, and you make yourself our guest.. Amid the cares of our lives, make us attentive to your presence, that we may treasure your word above all else, through Jesus Christ, our Savior and Lord.

Gospel Acclamation

Alleluia. Blessed are those who hold the word fast in an honest | and good heart,
and bear fruit with pa- | tient endurance. Alleluia. (Luke 8:15)

1a. CONTEXT: Luke 10:38-42

This story, which Luke alone preserves for us,

follows directly the parable of the "good Samaritan."

That parable accents active concern for the neighbor, even

when he or she falls outside one's own ethnic or religious

group. Some suggest that Luke places the story of

Martha and Mary right after the parable of the good

samaritan to warn hearers that discipleship is not,

however, to be reduced to service for others; it must also

involve "sitting at the feet of Jesus" to hear the word

of God.

1b. TEXT: Luke 10:38-42


Martha and Mary

38 Now as they went on their way, Jesus [1] entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” 41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, 42 but one thing is necessary. [2] Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

[1] 10:38 Greek he
[2] 10:42 Some manuscripts few things are necessary, or only one

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles


38Ἐν δὲ τῷ πορεύεσθαι αὐτοὺς αὐτὸς εἰσῆλθεν εἰς κώμην τινά: γυνὴ δέ τις ὀνόματι Μάρθα ὑπεδέξατο αὐτόν.
39καὶ τῇδε ἦν ἀδελφὴ καλουμένη Μαριάμ, [ἣ] καὶ παρακαθεσθεῖσα πρὸς τοὺς πόδας τοῦ κυρίου ἤκουεν τὸν λόγον αὐτοῦ.
40ἡ δὲ Μάρθα περιεσπᾶτο περὶ πολλὴν διακονίαν: ἐπιστᾶσα δὲ εἶπεν, Κύριε, οὐ μέλει σοι ὅτι ἡ ἀδελφή μου μόνην με κατέλιπεν διακονεῖν; εἰπὲ οὖν αὐτῇ ἵνα μοι συναντιλάβηται.
41ἀποκριθεὶς δὲ εἶπεν αὐτῇ ὁ κύριος, Μάρθα Μάρθα, μεριμνᾷς καὶ θορυβάζῃ περὶ πολλά,
42ἑνὸς δέ ἐστιν χρεία: Μαριὰμ γὰρ τὴν ἀγαθὴν μερίδα ἐξελέξατο ἥτις οὐκ ἀφαιρεθήσεται αὐτῆς.

Novum Testamentum Graece, Nestle-Aland 26th edition
© 1979, Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, Stuttgart;

The Greek New Testament, 3rd edition
© 1975, United Bible Societies, London

2. ANALYSIS: Luke 10:38-42

The text's genre is best described as "pronouncement

story." Jesus' final pronouncement in 10: 41-42 serves as

the climax of the story. The text can be outlined in the

following way:

10: 38-39a

• Setting with chief characters named;

10: 39b-40

• Contrast between reactions of Mary and Martha

10: 41-42

• Pronouncement of Jesus

--challenge to Martha (41b-42a)

--commendation of Mary (42b)

The pericope commences "and as they were going, he

[Jesus] entered into a certain village; and a certain

woman named Martha received him." Immediately her

sister is introduced to the hearers. This prepares for the

contrast between the two women's reactions to the visit of


The fact that Martha was there to welcome Jesus hints

at an established relationship with him, though we are not

told this directly.

She is extending hospitality to a friend, a courtesy

relied upon by travelers in the biblical world. Less

typical to that world would be a household without a male

as head (cf. John 11: 1ff.), a situation implied by the

story. Only the two women are mentioned. Note that even

the accompanying disciples, referred to in 10:38 [autous],

drop out of the story. Clearly, the story concentrates on

the two women and Jesus' interaction with them. Moreover,

since Gospel stories seldom name their characters, it

seems likely that these two women -- Martha and Mary --

held an important place in the memory of the earliest


Now we must inquire more directly into the meaning of

this brief story. Just as the previous story (10: 30-35)

yields its meaning by developing a contrast, one between

the Temple functionaries and the Samaritan, so too this

story's point relates to the contrast between the two

women. Fitzmyer puts it succinctly: "...the contrast is

seen between the reactions of Martha, the perfect hostess,

and of Mary, the perfect disciple" (p. 892).

By positioning herself at Jesus' feet, Mary has

assumed the listening posture of a disciple (in Acts 22: 3

Paul indicates that he was brought up in Jerusalem "at the

feet of Gamaliel" -- a famous Jewish rabbi). Martha, in

contrast, was concerned about offering service to Jesus

([diakonia] means serving another in most practical ways).

Extending hospitality to the traveler/guest was in fact

viewed by Jews as a sacred obligation. It was this duty

which was causing Martha anxiety. Or to put it more

precisely, it was Mary's failure to share this obligation

which was really disturbing Martha (10: 40).

As Tannehill (pp. 136-137) helpfully points out,

Martha is fulfilling the role expected of a woman --

providing for the guest (assuming there were no servants

to serve the meal), while Mary was indulging in a highly

questionable activity by assuming the role of a disciple

learning from a rabbi. At that time it was unheard of for

a Jewish rabbi to enter a household in order to teach


The story's climax in 10: 41-42 challenges Martha by

commending Mary's choice. Jesus' pronouncement begins

with the double addresss, "Martha, Martha," a rhetorical

device in biblical dialogue to overcome the resistance or

density on the part of the one addressed (see, e.g., 22:

31 and Acts 9: 4). Fitzmyer suggests "The repeated name

gently chides" (p. 894). According to the story, Martha

has badly misunderstood what is at issue, and the "Lord"

dramatically claims her attention. His final words draw


contrast between the "many things" about which she is

troubled and the "one thing" needful which Mary has

chosen. The story ends with Jesus' commending Mary for

choosing the "good part" [ten agathen merida], thereby

challenging all "Martha" hearers to rethink their


The key phrase "and of one thing there is need" [enos

de estin chreia] is ambiguous, perhaps by deliberate

design. By the end of the story, the hearers realize that

Mary's attentive posture before Jesus is to be preferred

over Martha's harried and complaining approach to

hospitality. But the hearers are not told precisely what

"the one thing needful" is. Is the story saying that

enjoying and benefitting from the Lord's presence is more

vital for us than frantically serving the Lord? Perhaps.

Mary's posture is a receiving and self-transcending one,

while Martha's activity -- though aimed at the Lord --

exhibits anxiety and self-concern.

Finally, it should be noted that Luke, as he does

elsewhere, narrates the story to make it the church's

story. Jesus is described as "the Lord," a title used by

the post-resurrection community. Twice Jesus is referred

to as the Lord (10: 39 and 10: 41) as well as Martha's

addressing him as the Lord (10: 40). Luke has shaped this

story to make it immediately relevant to Christian

communities. Christians need to ponder what Jesus'

pronouncement means for their way of discipleship.

3. STRATEGY: Luke10: 38-42

1. This story addresses the"Marthas" of the

congregation, or better yet, the "Martha" in all of us.

It is so easy to allow our dedicated service "to the

Lord", whether it be painting the church or cleaning up

after a wedding reception, to become poisoned by an

attitude resentful of others who do not appear to be

sharing the burden of work. Suddenly, our service towards

others--at home, church, or work--can be undercut by

feelings of obligation and resentment.

2. This text intends to focus our attention on the

"one thing" needful. Mary was enjoying and learning from

the presence of the Lord. To quote Talbert:

Mary is characterized by an undivided attention

to Jesus himself. She is also one who receives from the

Lord. Martha was distracted, not wholly focused on

Jesus himself.

The reason was her "much serving" (vs. 40).

Her desire to work for Jesus distracted her focus on Jesus

and prevented her receiving from him what she needed (p.


As pastors, we need to devote some serious thought to

how congregational life contributes to distracted and

harried activity which reduces time and space for "sitting

at Jesus' feet." It would be tragic for us to be consumed

by "much serving" and miss "the one thing needful."

4. REFERENCES: Luke 10: 38-42


X-XXIV. The Anchor Bible: Doubleday & Co., Inc., 1985, pp.




Crossroad, 1982, pp. 125-126.


LUKE-ACTS: A LITERARY INTERPRETATION, Vol. 1, Philadelphia: Fortress

Press, 1986, pp. 132-139.

Exegete: James Bailey, PhD.

Mary Magdalene, Apostle
July 22, 2010

Ruth 1:6-18 or Exodus 2:1-10
Psalm 73:23-28 (28)
Acts 13:26-33a
John 20:1-2, 11-18

Prayer of the Day
Almighty God, your Son first entrusted the apostle Mary Magdalene with the joyful news of his resurrection. Following the example of her witness, may we proclaim Christ as our living Lord and one day see him in glory, for he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever.

Gospel Acclamation

Alleluia. This Jesus | God raised up,
and of that all of | us are witnesses. Alleluia. (Acts 2:32)



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