Preaching the Perfect Example Text: Martha and Mary


In Luke 10:39-40 Luke tells us that “Mary…sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving.” This might be the perfect example of a preaching portion that functions as both a good and bad example to follow. (You probably can think of others in Scripture that function in a similar way). It’s pretty simple. We say to our folks: “Follow Mary’s example and avoid Martha’s example.

The key, of course, is communicating what was wrong with Martha. She’s described as “distracted with much serving” in v. 40. Undistracted serving isn’t a problem. We need lots of that in the faith-family. Then, Martha crosses the line even further when, according to Ryken, she “stopped serving and started scolding” Jesus. Martha actually instructs Jesus! Can you imagine?! It’s a great time to ask our folks to monitor their attitude while they’re serving. How do they feel about others who might not be serving quite so much?

It’s easier to communicate what was right with Mary. O how we need God to develop more and more congregants who listen to the Word of God with a view toward adjusting their lives accordingly!

The Martha’s in our churches need an adjustment. Their adjustment is one way they worship during and as a result of the teaching of this narrative. I can hear my prof, the late Howard Hendricks say to the Mary’s in our churches: “May your tribe increase.” This Text is a great way to balance worshiping and serving. Because, if you’re only learning and never serving, then you’re not really learning at the feet of Jesus.

Faith in Christ creates Mary’s, not Martha’s. So, even though the narrative means something through good and bad examples, we do not dismiss our folks by saying: “Go and be like Mary, not like Martha.” Instead we spend a moment explaining how the Christ-crucified creates Mary’s posture and adjusts Martha’s posture.

Preach well for the glory of God.

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Your thoughts?