Lesson Three


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Memory Verse: Luke 10:42
Further Study: Luke 10:38-42; The Desire of Ages, pp. 524, 525; The Bible Story, vol. 8, pp. 98-100

My daughter has recently begun attending Beginners 1 Sabbath School with her three-month old. For those unfamiliar with such a program, in our church it is a program designed for 0-24 month olds. They are exposed to mostly Creation, Bible stories, and the love of Jesus through songs and activities appropriate for their age. 

A recent call from her revealed what all mothers discover at some point. “The program is cute, and the baby loves it!” she exclaimed. “But I realized that where I used to be spiritually fed through my devotional study, attending an adult Bible discussion class, and listening to sermons has completely vanished. My devotional time been taken up by baby care; I haven’t listened to a full sermon since she was born; and what happens in her Sabbath School isn’t enough.” I didn’t say it, but thought it: Welcome to motherhood.

I didn’t say it, but thought it: Welcome to motherhood.

I haven’t found a woman who likes the story of Martha, Mary, and Jesus. Inwardly we grumble because first, we completely understand Martha’s complaint; and second, Jesus sides with Mary. Or does He? 

Jesus’ response to Martha was kind in tone. “Martha, Martha . . .,”  He begins. Note that He doesn’t tell her to stop preparing the meal. Martha was a gifted hostess. She had a welcoming home, which is why we find Jesus in it. In preparing the meal for Him and those with Him, she was serving. It’s exactly what we are all called to do with whatever gifts we are given. But beware: service should be out of our love for Jesus. And this is what Jesus references. It wasn’t what Martha was doing, but her attitude toward Mary. As she worked she compared what she was doing to what someone else was not doing, causing her to grumble, and perhaps bang a few jars and pots around for good effect.

Mary, on the other hand, was sitting at the feet of Jesus. 

Mary, on the other hand, was sitting at the feet of Jesus. While Martha was preparing a banquet, Mary was feasting at one. Martha was serving Jesus, but Mary was learning from Him. Just as we need to use our gifts in service, we also need to sit at the feet of Jesus. 

Can you see the tension? It’s what my daughter is discovering. Women, especially mothers, are consumed with service. Raising children in the Lord is the ultimate service one can give, and we need to give our all. In this, we excel in being Martha, but as my daughter recognized, we also need some Mary. Serving and learning. Doing and sitting. Jesus didn’t pick one sister over the other. He called Martha to discover her inner Mary. And we can assume Mary was encouraged to practice a bit of Martha. 

It isn’t easy. Keep reading Digging Deeper and Making it Real for ways to balance your Martha and Mary so that you, too, will be renewed.

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Digging Deeper 

When Jesus responds to Martha He chooses an interesting word. He tells Martha that “Mary has chosen that good part . . .” (Luke 10:42). The Greek word used for “part” is merida and used when referencing a meal. Jesus didn’t say Mary chose better, but that while Martha was busy preparing, Mary was “eating” and what she ate could not be taken away. Like us, the meals we eat are soon over and gone (literally), but our spiritual meals stay with us forever.

An additional note on Martha—while it appears that Jesus might have been scolding, she apparently listened to Him. For when we see Martha again it is at the event of her brother’s death. Notice that when she heard Jesus was coming, she left her guests to go to Him. And while she reproved Jesus for staying away, she affirmed His resurrection power, acknowledging Him as the Son of God (John 11:27).

Making it Real

This lesson isn’t just for young mothers—it’s one we all need. I just found myself ending a very busy work week, burning the candle at both ends. What got left out? My devotional time—excelling in Martha, but failing in Mary. So, what’s a person to do? Here are a few ideas to try out as we battle our busy 24-hour days of service to home, work, and church.

  1. Find a devotional podcast that you can listen to as you commute, feed the baby, or prepare meals.
  2. Is there a preacher you especially like? Many radio preachers have sermon archives. Select one to listen to this week.
  3. If you are not already doing this, prepare a special bag of quiet-only-on-Sabbath things your children can do during the church service so you can listen to the sermon.
  4. Keep a Bible at the table where you eat your meals. Select a book and read as many verses as you can in the time you have. Maybe read them aloud to your family and then discuss them.
  5. Some people can handle early morning hours. Wake up earlier than your family for some quiet time. Beware of this one—it’s amazing how this one is foiled more times than you can imagine!



Merle Poirier writes from Silver Spring, Maryland, where she works as the operation manager for Adventist Review and Adventist World magazines as well as the designer for KidsView, a magazine for 8-12-year-olds. She enjoys spending time with her family including being a grandmother to two active little boys, who greatly enjoy Starting With Jesus, and a granddaughter, who’s delighting everyone with her smiles. She is blessed to have all three living close by, continually bringing joy and delight.


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