9th Sunday after Pentecost 2016

Bible Text: Luke 10:38-42


You have a very long list of things to do in a day.





Soccer Practice

Dance Practice

Piano Lessons

Family Devotions

Take the dog to the vet

Call your kids

Call your parents

Do your homework

The list goes on,

And you’re very good at finding all sorts of new things to add to it.


So where is Jesus?

Is He at the top of your list?

I hope not.


If there is anywhere Jesus does not want to be, your checklist is it.


Ask Martha.

She put Jesus first. She was the best at it.

You read the text didn’t you?

Jesus came. Jesus entered. And she received Him into her home.


Jesus was on the top of Martha’s list.

But her list is long.


And now, having received Him into her home, she must be on to the next thing.

That’s the problem with lists.

You check the box, which feels so good, and then you move on.


And when God and His Word becomes just another thing we have to “do”,

All of a sudden the One thing needful is equivalent to groceries.


In the best-case scenario it goes something like this:

Go to Church on Sunday. Check. Move on.

I did my devotions. That was a long 10 minutes, but its over now. Check move on.

I memorized the catechism. Check. Move on.

That’s best-case.


In more unfortunate scenarios the bar gets lowered.


Sunday comes. You roll over tiredly, and say:

“I believe in Jesus. And I remember those banners on the wall saying faith alone saves.

That’s what Pastor Hopkins said, right? Check. Move on.

I went to church last month, but we have soccer games on Sunday now. Jesus will be with me in my heart. Check. Move on.


Maybe you’ve already moved on today.

I’m never sure how good any sermon is, but I would bet that it is most certainly true that you can’t even get through this service without thinking about what else you have going on, what else has to be done before you go back to work or school on Monday.


And that may be too optimistic. Luther challenged anyone to make it through the Lord’s Prayer without having his or her mind wander this way.


That’s the risk of putting Jesus first.

The risk is that you check the box, and move on.

And eventually, in a world full of better options, the One things needful becomes the one thing optional.


And so Jesus teaches us today that rather than being first,

He would be central.


Jesus refuses to be the first on a list of many things needful.

He is the One thing needful.

Which means that every other thing, however necessary we think it to be, is not.


Mary sees this.

That’s why she’s at His feet.

It’s the posture of a disciple.

Sitting at the feet of their teachers is what disciples do.


In Mary we see the picture of discipleship that our Lord gives us in Matthew 28.

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”


In Holy Baptism Jesus made His home with you.

And there can be no doubt about it.

Yet he is not done with you.

The formula for making disciples involves teaching.

Mary, you could say, is being discipled.


She is not checking a box.

She is not moving on.

Jesus is not first on her list.

Jesus is central.

Everything else in her life now orbits around Him and His gifts.


He is the one thing needful.

And he will not be taken away from her.


The risk, I suppose, in this story, is to think that our service is bad.

The only thing for you to do is be engaged in Bible Study, prayer, and Sunday worship.

That’s a risk I’m willing to take, but lest anyone stay up at night wondering about the implications of this, remember that we do see Mary and Martha again.


You’ll recall that they have a brother, Lazarus.
Lazarus died. The sisters wept. Jesus raised him from the dead, and the week before His crucifixion, Jesus was a guest in their home again.


The scene in John 12 is familiar.

Martha is serving.
Mary is at Jesus’ feet, anointing Him with oil.

But this time there is no rebuke for Martha.

She’s not checking boxes anymore.

Her serving has taken on a new character.


She’s been at Jesus’ feet, too.

She is no longer anxious and troubled about many things,

and she doesn’t insist that Mary be either.

She is free.

And in the freedom Christ gives, everything is different.

Her service is not a burden, but a joy, a blessing, and even a prayer.


And so she sees that what Mary is up to is important as well.

She is anointing Jesus to prepare Him for His death.


She is preparing Him for the cross.

Where Jesus will go to die for your sins and for mine.

After all, He did not come to be served but to serve.

And to give His life as a ransom for many.


You are ransomed.

You are free.

Free from condemnation.

Free from the spiritual checklist.

Free to live a resurrected life right now.

With Jesus at the very center of it all.


He is the one thing needful.

He promised the Apostles that He’d be with them always, even to the end of the age.

And to You, His disciples, you who have been baptized into His death and resurrection.

He will not be taken away from you.

And you will not be taken away from Him.

About Pastor Hopkins