The Completely Focused Worshiper

Luke 10:38-42 | John 12:1-8 Mary chooses what’s better

Martha is distracted. This is the word that describes her at the time she hosted Jesus in her home. Her sister Mary is sitting at Jesus feet listening to him, but Martha is distracted. To be distracted means to have lost sight of what is important. When this happens we often lose out on what is important. Let me give an example.
Many people leave their mobile phones on the passenger seat while driving. At a traffic light a thief will knock on the driver side window as if to ask for money, while his partner grabs the mobile through the open passenger window. They distract someone in order to steal from them.
But this doesn’t just happen with natural things, it also happens with spiritual things. ♦ There is a spiritual thief who wants to steal from us, and he also uses distraction. Martha was distracted while Jesus was giving Mary valuable information and as a result she could not respond the way Mary did.
But Martha wasn’t only distracted; she was also blind, because she was unaware that she was missing out. In fact she said to Jesus, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” She could not see how sitting at Jesus feet could be more important than preparing food for her guests.
This is a familiar problem. As Christians we often think our service to society, to our families, or even to the Lord is more important than sitting at his feet. When we think this way we are not seeing what Mary and Jesus were seeing. Like Martha we are blind.
Jesus said to her,  “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”
What is the one thing that is needed? What was Mary seeing that Martha could not see? The one thing is closeness of relationship. It is better because serving society, or our families, or the Lord is supposed to flow out of a relationship with the Lord. When we try to serve without relationship we become slaves of self righteousness instead of children of his presence. ‘Worried and upset’ is no way to run your family, your business, or to serve the Lord.
The Gospel of John records the same incident at Martha’s house but it emphasizes something different. John reveals that Mary poured an expensive perfume on Jesus’ feet and wiped the dripping liquid with her hair. It was obviously an act of passionate adoration, but it left Judas and probably Martha and the others disciples quite bewildered. Certainly Judas considered it a waste. He said, “Why wasn’t this perfume sold and the money given to the poor? It was worth a year’s wages. ” But Jesus said “Leave her alone, it was intended that she should save this perfume for the day of my burial.”
This tells us something important. Mary had not acted on her own, she had responded to the guidance of God. I can only imagine that while listening to Jesus he had said something about how he would die for the sins of the world and she was so moved that she decided to pour her expensive perfume on his feet. When the magnitude of what Jesus was about to do hit her she responded with an act of extravagant and passionate worship.
There is a lesson in this for us. Those who take the time to be in the Lord’s presence will know things that others don’t. They will hear his voice, feel his heart, and know what he is doing. Mary understood the reasons for the cross of Jesus long before the Twelve did. And Martha missed out on this awesome revelation because she was in the kitchen!
Often we say, I need God’s guidance, I need his wisdom, I need to know his will, I need to hear his voice. Well, it begins by being a person of his presence. It begins by being a completely focused worshiper.

Mary heard the voice of God as an individual sitting at Jesus feet. But the same is true when the church gathers for corporate worship. It is in his presence that we hear his voice, know his heart, and are driven to express ourselves with great passion.
Sunday meetings are an oasis. During the week we are often battered by the things of the world. We badly need to receive all we can get when we gather as believers. In our times of worship it is so important to put aside all distractions and to focus as Mary did. Often when believers gather in churches they sing the songs but their minds are on other things. They are distracted like Martha and they lose out. They leave church empty or with very little of what God intended for them. Focus is a vital thing.
When the high priest went into the most holy place on the Day of Atonement once a year, although he could not see God he was very much aware that God was there. Every move the priest made, every word he spoke was because he knew God was there. This is focus, the kind of focus Mary demonstrated at Jesus feet. And it’s the kind of focus we must have if we are to receive all that God has for us.

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