Sermon on 07/31/22

Church at the train station, Frankenberg, Volker Aßmann
What ist really important?!


38Now 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.
39 And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word.
40 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.
41 And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things:
42 But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.
(Luke 10:38-42)


Just before we read the parable told by Jesus “about the good Samaritan”. It was about a man asking Jesus what he had to do to get eternal life. (Luke 10:25)
Jesus answered him, “What does the law of Moses say about this?”
The man answered, “You shall love the LORD your God… and you shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
The man asks back: Who is my neighbor that I should love? (10:29) And then Jesus tells how the religious people pass by the one who needs their help and only a Samaritan helps him.
Does n’t this raise the question of our actions: isn’t action the most important thing?
But Jesus did not first speak of acting and deeds, but of love.
It is first about the heart, about love:
You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind. And love your neighbor as yourself! “ (Luke 10:27 based on a quote from Deuteronomy 6:5)


1. Do or be?

Both Martha and Mary love Jesus (and Jesus loves them, and also their brother Lazarus – John 11: 5 )
From John 11 we can see that this encounter of Jesus with Martha and Mary happened a few days before Jesus was crucified, some time after Jesus had raised her brother Lazarus from the dead 4 days after his burial.
What characterizes these two sisters and what makes the special difference?
They live the good of hospitality, which was so important in the culture of the time – we can and should learn a lot from that alone here and now! Both are trying to show Jesus their love. And there was also a lot to do to provide for Jesus and his companions.
>Marta is zealous and diligently trying to serve the LORD externally. Mary also serves Him by being served by Jesus .< (Fritz Rienecker)
Mary surrenders to Jesus by focusing on hearing Jesus’ words and being close to Him. Jesus says of her that she chose the good part that cannot be taken from her (Luke 10:42)
Martha was so busy with work (ministering) that she could not listen to Jesus’ words. But the work had to be done.
She was Maria’s older sister. This shows a syndrome of the older siblings, perhaps also people with a “helper syndrome” in general, which is not primarily an evaluation. She wanted to do everything especially well and right!
And she expected others to do the same.
Martha does not realize that in all her service and busyness she was actually neglecting her guest, Jesus.
Are you so busy doing (serving) things for Jesus that you stop spending time with Jesus and just nurture your relationship with HIM?
This isn’t about taking so much time for other things that we neglect to relate to and serve Jesus—that’s a much bigger problem!
Fritz Rienecker writes:
>When Jesus comes into a house as a guest, the people living in the house should regard hearing His words as the highest and most important thing. In this is the salvation that the LORD will bring to a house; it is therefore the one thing, the necessary .<
Martha wanted to give Jesus a lot, actually something good, but she got the wrong priorities – Mary had a desire to receive a lot from Him!!
Caution – in all service and action, do not forget the highest thing, namely the relationship with Jesus himself!!
The Marta character easily succumbs to the extreme of restless activity for the LORD in the sense of performance and work holiness (righteousness), the Maria nature to the extreme of inactive mystical piety…. Marta’s zeal and the devotional calm of Maria can, if they are united, promote the harmony of the believing community for the good.” (Rienecker)
Caution: do not let Christ service and action degenerate into mere business without genuine devotion to God!
Beware of wrong alternatives: not only be, but also act! And don’t just act without living in relationship with Jesus!
But being, the relationship with Jesus, comes first!
There is a time when we must listen to Jesus, and there is a time when it is appropriate to work for HIM!


2. Only one thing matters! Lavish love of God!

“My dear Marta, you worry about so many little things! Basically, only one thing is important. Mary has recognized what that is – and I will not take it from her.” (Luke 10:41+42)
John 12,1-10: (apparently after Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead, because John assumes it is known / 12,1)
> Six days before the Passover celebrations began, Jesus came to Bethany, the hometown of Lazarus—the man whom HE had raised from the dead.
A banquet was held there in His honor. Martha served the guests and Lazarus sat at the table with him.
Then Mary took a twelve-ounce flask of costly nard oil, anointed Jesus’ feet with the oil, and wiped them with her hair.
The scent of the oil filled the whole house.
Then Judas Iscariot, one of His disciples – the one who later betrayed Him – said:
“This perfume was worth a small fortune. It should have been sold and the money given to the poor.”
But he didn’t care about the poor at all – he was a thief and kept the disciples’ treasury and occasionally stole some money for his own use.
Jesus replied, “Leave her alone! She did it in preparation for my funeral. You always have the poor with you, but I will not be with you much longer.”
When the people learned that Jesus was there, they flocked to see not only Jesus, but especially Lazarus, whom Jesus had raised from the dead.
Thereupon the chief priests decided to kill Lazarus as well, because because of him many people had deserted them (Judaism) and now believed in Jesus .<
on the Sunday before Good Friday, less than 1 week before Jesus was crucified.

And the biblical report makes it clear that before Jesus and in the encounter with HIM, our inner attitude and our motives become recognizable.
Mary anoints Jesus’ feet with very expensive and precious oil (the value corresponds to 300 daily wages, i.e. one year’s salary) and dries Jesus’ feet with her hair. (John 11:2-3)
> Mary wants to honor Jesus unreservedly and “lavishly” and puts HIM totally in the center, while maintaining the distance from Jesus, the Son of God, who has power even over death. She only dares to anoint His feet, but these in extravagant abundance . ‘ (Werner de Boor)
Her motive is devotion and lavish love, love doesn’t count, she just wants to love.
Martha ‘s motive that we find in Luke 10: do everything right, work and serve!
Judas Iscariot : “That could have been sold for a lot of money and thus helped the poor (John 12:4-5)
His motive is greed and deceit. He has a history of cheating and stealing and is on the verge of betraying Jesus to the Jews and Romans for money.
The crowd : They want to be part of the sensation of Lazarus being raised from the dead. And many of them not only follow the sensation, but believe in Jesus because of it.
The religious leaders of the Jews are spinning murder plans, not only Jesus has to die, but also Lazarus, because people are turning away from their religion.
Jesus’ answer to Judas: “Leave her (Mary)! She did it in preparation for my funeral. You will always have the poor with you, but I will not be with you much longer.” (John 12:7-8)
Jesus understands Mary’s act of anointing His feet with very precious oil for what it was: love and greatest appreciation and devotion! It is like an anticipatory anointing of the dead for Jesus who would be executed and buried within a week.
And what about the “wasted” money instead of using it for social and charitable causes? Is that a contradiction: worship of God and social responsibility of the church?
Here Jesus not only reveals the heart of Mary, who gives everything for Jesus, but also the heart of Iscariot:
Because you, Judas, will betray me, and the Jews and Romans will execute me, there will be a situation at all, the corpse to be anointed by Jesus.
No, there is no contradiction between the worship of Jesus, God’s Son, and the diakonia, help and social responsibility of Jesus’ followers! Everything has it’s time.
Werner de Boor writes:
>If the poor are now deprived of these 300 denarii,
they will get them back a millionfold because Jesus fills His church with the “will to help” for all the poor .<


3. The necessary – it turns the need!!

But it remains: Jesus first – Jesus first!
“Marta, Martha, you are worried and anxious about so many things, but only one thing is necessary!” (Luke 10:41-42)
No achievement, no action and no service, no matter how generous, valuable and good, brings you into a relationship with Jesus and gives you forgiveness and eternal life!
Jesus wants your heart, your life, not your money and your gifts and opportunities – that’s all part of it!
“You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind.” (Luke 10:27)
At the end of our lives, God will not ask what we have done for Him and for people, but whether we love and trust Him and are God’s children through Christ, crucified and risen.
Here Jesus is not condemning Martha for doing what good hosts are supposed to do, but is concerned with her wrong priorities.
And it would also be wrong alternatives in Jesus’ eyes – being and doing.
But if you forget to be close to and in fellowship with God in everything you do for people and for God, you have done everything wrong.
And if you lose sight of the people around you and the world in which you live, out of sheer worship and being close to Jesus, you are simply selfish and lazy.


4. Emotionally healthy discipleship

Peter Scazzero writes about this in his book of that title.
How much imbalance and unfulfilled, cramped life as a Christian has its roots and causes right here.
And I suspect that many of us here have seen a false imprint on our lives as Christians that doesn’t fit with the concepts and standards of the Bible.
He writes:
‘In our efforts to serve God, most of us ultimately fall short of our relationship with Him. We are always in a hurry and would like to make the best possible use of every free minute. So by the evening we are exhausted from trying to ceaselessly satisfy the needs of others. And as if we weren’t already overloaded enough, we also fill our free time with activities of any kind. We put our doing for God above our being before God .<
Mary’s focus is on being with Jesus, enjoying fellowship with Him and loving Him.
Mary found the center of her life and faith in Jesus.
And those who know Jesus like this and learn from HIM will not remain inactive afterwards, but will be there and serve people completely, just like Jesus, out of the connection with His Father.
And love your neighbor as yourself! (Luke 10:27)
But a work, a service for God, which is not nourished by a deep inner communion with God, must ultimately perish and has no endurance and lasting value.
The danger is that we base our worth more on success or failure in our ministry than on God’s love for us.
Let’s pay attention to what’s really important in our lives, which is to live in God’s love, love HIM, and then serve God and people!

That is what is necessary and that is a fulfilling life.