Years ago, while reading the brief story at the end of Luke chapter 10, about Jesus visiting the home of Mary and Martha, an idea jumped off the page concerning, of all things, the Christmas holidays. It was, at least for me, profound.
The idea was this; what happened during Jesus’ visit to Mary and Martha, concerning how each of them approached his visit, is very much like what happens during Christmas each year. After all, Christmas is supposed to be a celebration of Jesus’ very first visit to earth.
Mary and Martha were wired very differently. In other words, had they been given the Myers Briggs personality types test, they would have been opposites. It’s not that one had a better approach to life than the other, just different. However, when driven by their instincts concerning how they should approach the very special event of Jesus coming personally to visit them for dinner, Mary’s plan was better.
The story begins saying that “As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made.”
Here are the key takeaways that can be directly applied to Christmas. The first is “Martha opened her home to him”. Score one for Martha. It all starts there. Many people do not even open their home or hearts to Jesus at Christmas.
But here’s where things shift. Mary, sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all of the preparations that had to be made. There’s the key word – distracted!
Martha then becomes so upset about the fact that she’s doing all the work while Mary’s doing “nothing” that she actually tries to get Jesus to straighten out Mary and get her to help in the kitchen. But Jesus refuses to comply. Instead, he actually mildly rebukes Martha by saying, “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.”
And, that’s why, to this day, when I say Merry Christmas, what I am really saying is “Mary” Christmas. In doing so, I’m reminding myself not to let all of the craziness of what the Christmas holidays have become, distract me from the one thing that Christmas is really all about – Jesus.
My challenge to you this Christmas is to approach it like Mary and not Martha. Yes, there will always be lots of preparations that have to be attended to. But don’t let those keep you from sitting at Jesus’ feet, intently listening to what He has to say. Remember what Jesus said to Martha, “… only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen the better.”
Christmas is not about presents, it’s about His presence!