Next let us look at Martha. "But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to Him, and said ..." The Greek is very strong: it means that she walked up to Him and involved Him in this. It implies that she regarded Him as responsible, and if she had said all that was in her mind, she would have said: "You are responsible for this, You are involved in this, and it is up to You to put it right." That is what is implied by the original words here - regarding Him as the one involved in it, and He could if He would, and He ought to, put it right. It implies that she burst out. She had been bottling this thing up, and at last, able to contain it no longer, she went up to Him and burst out: "Lord, dost Thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? Bid her therefore that she help me."
Now I want to get the force of the situation, and it will help you with Martha. We must understand Martha's mood and position. "Cumbered about much serving" hardly conveys to us what really was the situation. We get from the translation an altogether imperfect impression, I think, of exactly how things were. The Greek word here is a word which means "was distracted", "pulled in different directions". Probably her anxiety showed in her face. And what was the anxiety over? Many household cares, perhaps many dishes; preoccupations of all kinds. And the Lord said to Martha: "Martha, you are bothered about all sorts of secondary considerations; you have got more than you can handle. There is but one thing that is really necessary...".
You are beginning to understand the situation now, are you not? It was simply that there was necessary an adjustment of things on the part of Martha, so that what was most important should have its place. It was not that the Lord was out of sympathy with Martha's providing them with a meal, but He saw that she was causing this meal business to become such an elaborate and extensive thing as to be altogether out of proportion, and to put the more essential things into a place much less than the non-essential.
Yes, a meal may be right, but oh, let us put things in their right proportion. Let us see to it that temporal things do not over-whelm spiritual. Do not let us become so anxious and distracted about the passing things that the spiritual things are eclipsed. For the one thing which ought to be made to keep all the other things in their right places - they are all right in their places - is the thing which comes from the lips of the Lord.
You see, it is a matter of proportion, it is a matter of where you are placing the most emphasis. It is a matter of whether you are allowing the things of this life so to absorb, and to occupy, and to draw you around with anxiety, that the greater things are not getting a chance. And we all agree now, we have no more quarrel with the Master over Mary, when we see it like that. What was necessary was that there should be an adjustment of things: so that, while these other matters had a place, and a right place, they were in their place and in their own measure; while the supreme things were allowed to predominate and were not submerged in those lesser matters which, after all, are not the abiding things.
Now, that was the whole situation. In the House of God, the thing that matters more than all our business, all our feverish activities to do a thousand and one things of Christian work - the one thing that matters is getting to know the Lord, and giving the Lord a chance to make Himself known. Feverish activities so often, in what is called "the church", exclude the voice of the Lord, shut Him out; it is all what we are doing, and so little of what He is getting a chance to say. The place that satisfies Him is the place of adjustment to the supreme things.
Well, that is Martha.
(continued with # 7 - "Precious Ointment Poured Forth")