Luke 10:38-42 (ESV)
38 Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. 39 And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. 40 But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” 41 But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, 42 but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”
The next most obvious contrast between Mary and Martha is the contrast in their mental states. Two statements are made as to Martha’s mental state. In verse 41 Jesus says that she is “anxious and troubled.” Martha is full of worry. She is trying to make dinner, but she is getting no help. The tasks are piling up. There is so much to be done that she cannot see how she can accomplish it all within a reasonable amount of time. She is becoming more and more stressed out.
Mary’s mental state is not directly described in the text. We can only make inferences from other details. We see that she is sitting at the feet listening to the teaching of Jesus. She is certainly not worried, anxious or troubled. In fact, Martha draws attention to Mary’s apparent lack of concern for practical matters. Mary gives the impression of being at peace.
Verse 40 also describes Martha as distracted with all of the serving she has to do. She is going five or six different directions trying to get everything done. Her mind is scattered, and her thoughts are divided. Mary, on the other hand, appears to be very focused. And this is one of the differences highlighted by Jesus. Martha is worried about many things, but Mary has chosen the one good thing.
The one necessary thing is what I shall look at next.