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Tell Her to Help Me! - Daily Treasure - April 13

  • 2022 Apr 13

Tell Her to Help Me!

Sharon W. Betters


“Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”  “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” (Luke 10:40-42).

Tears must have stung Martha’s eyes as she helped the servants pick up empty bowls. Her mind raced, searching for the reason her plans for an extraordinary evening with the Master had dissolved into a disaster. Jesus and His disciples had needed a place of solitude, and their acceptance of Martha’s invitation gave her the opportunity to do what she did best – serve. The aroma of stewed lamb filled the house when they arrived. Bread hot off the coals filled the baskets. Just a few more details and all would be ready. But then everything fell apart. Martha could not be everywhere at once, and Mary, her sister, was not helping! Instead, she was sitting at Jesus’ feet, enjoying His company.

“I’d like to hear His words, too,” Martha may have muttered. “But someone has to fix the meal. Jesus doesn’t even notice how much I am doing. This is ridiculous.” Confident that her indignation was righteous, Martha put her thoughts into words: “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” (Luke 10:40).

Without acknowledging Martha’s need for help, Jesus defended Mary’s choice, adding confusion and regret to the anger in Martha’s soul: “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” (Luke 10:41-42).

What did Jesus mean? Martha was doing what was expected of her and what she believed was right. Why didn’t Jesus appreciate it?

As an orthodox Jewish woman, Martha probably had traditional views of her identity, and she seemed to believe that her sister should hold those views as well. Martha expected Jesus to support her in “reeducating” Mary. Instead, Jesus confronted Martha with a fundamental but overlooked truth. Martha wanted Jesus to acknowledge the importance of her service by demanding that Mary behaved in the same way, but Jesus defended Mary, saying that she had chosen wisely – that it was important to seize every opportunity to deepen her relationship with Him.

Contemporary thinking and Rabbinic teaching evidently had shaped Martha’s view of herself. Josephus, a contemporary of Paul, wrote, “The woman is inferior to the man in every way.” Rabbis did not expect women to learn or to understand religious teaching. Martha apparently accepted this view, which explains her confusion when Jesus said that her sister had made the better choice. He suggested that Martha’s activities, though not inherently bad, nevertheless robbed her of something far more precious.

Martha, by limiting her service to actions that made her comfortable and by demanding that others do likewise, was in danger of making an idol of her traditional role. Jesus, while not discouraging her service, tried to help her focus on something far more important…

Jesus encouraged Martha to see in a new way, to focus on what had previously been hidden from her. To do so, she would have to stop looking at herself and begin exercising weak and seldom-used spiritual muscles. 

Jesus uses events in our lives to show us new things about ourselves. Within a year after our son Mark’s death, our daughter Heidi married Greg, our son Dan started college, and our oldest son, Chuck, married Melanie. Suddenly I was preparing meals for two instead of six. Every trip to the grocery store reminded me of my changing life. The next two years were to have been Mark’s special time as our youngest child; he would have been the center of our attention. My husband and I planned to use the time to prepare for the imminent empty nest.

Mark’s sudden death robbed us of our preparation time and hurled me into an unfamiliar and unwelcome role change. I was forced to reexamine my identity as a woman. Through Mark’s death, God put me at a frightening crossroads. Would passion for God or the loss of my son become the framework of my identity? Unable to make decisions and impatient with mindless chatter, I retreated from leadership in local women’s ministry. My inability to function in previous roles raised questions concerning my purpose. Who was I? How should I fill my days? How could I? How would I?

Learning to articulate my ultimate identity as God’s disciple rather than as a mother forced me to find new ways of responding to my redemption. Like the excruciating pain of learning to walk again after an injury, every step caused anguish, but my spiritual health demanded that I face the challenge. (Excerpts from Treasures of Encouragement, Sharon W. Betters, Women Helping Women, pages 31-34. Used with permission from P&R Publishing).


Friends, the scriptures do not name Martha as a woman at the Cross, but I have no doubt she was part of the women “afar off”. Her encounters with Jesus helped her understand her identity as a child of God and transformed her way of viewing not only her service but the opportunity to sit at the feet of Jesus with her sister. However, as we will see tomorrow, just like us, Martha needed more than one personal encounter with Jesus. We will watch as He starts preparing her for His death but also His resurrection.


Oh, Father, our hearts go out to Martha. We are all about doing, doing, doing when you call us to be about being. When busyness overwhelms us, remind us of those precious words you spoke to Martha, “You are busy about so many things. It’s time to choose the better part. Sit at my feet awhile and be energized by my love for you.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sharon W. Betters is a mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, pastor’s wife, and cofounder of MARKINC Ministries, where she is the Director of Resource Development. Sharon is the author of several books, including Treasures of EncouragementTreasures in Darkness, and co-author with Susan Hunt of Aging with Grace. She is the co-host of the Help & Hope podcast and writes Daily Treasure, an online devotional.

For more from Daily Treasure please visit MARKINC.ORG.

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