One Necessary Thing


“Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42

This passage is very familiar to those of us who strive to cram as many things as possible into a 24-hour period. But I have come to realize that Jesus was giving us much more than a warning about being busy. After all, Jesus said that one thing was necessary, and further, that this one “necessary” thing was something Mary chose. Certainly this implies that we can choose it as well.  I choose to take my Lipitor every morning because it has been deemed necessary to combat my high cholesterol. How can I ignore something that is necessary for my spiritual health?


So what did Mary choose? She chose to sit at the feet of Jesus. The term, “sit at the feet” of someone means more than hanging out with someone, basking in his or her presence. As I studied the term, I realized that it means to learn from someone, as a disciple learns from a rabbi. Mary had chosen to learn from Jesus. Mary had chosen to be a disciple of Jesus. Choosing to be Jesus’ disciple was a risk she took. To “sit at the feet” of a man was culturally and religiously unacceptable for a woman ≈, and yet she chose to take the risk to gain the vast rewards. Choosing to be Jesus’ disciple countered the world’s views, back then and today, and yet, Jesus affirmed her decision and gently rebuked Martha.


"Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but…


That wise warning but is very useful in my life. How often do I wake up in the morning and get started right away in the day’s chores. I am very diligent. I am doing good things. I am helping my family, I am working hard in the church, I am staying up late to get things done, and yet I can be anxious and troubled about many things. Jesus says, “but.” There is more. This is something I have missed. There is something necessary, and I can choose it every day. Jesus has something to say. I need to interject His “but” into my day, and choose to listen to Him, to learn from Him, and then to follow His direction.


Jesus’ comment was meant not as much a rebuke, as it was an invitation to Martha, and to all of us, to come to Him and choose as Mary did-- the one necessary thing.