How would we react if, after sharing thoughts with Jesus (believing that would agree with our ideas), we came to realize that He actually disagreed with our thinking?
This was the issue that jumped out at me as I read the story of Jesus visiting with Mary and Martha (Luke 10:38-42). While the main point of the passage is to show the importance of investing time and energy in our relationship with Jesus, there is a smaller sub-theme that often goes unnoticed. This sub-theme reminds us to be humble as we listen to God.
The point is seen clearly in the Greek text of Luke. When asking a yes-or-no type question, the Greek language can indicate what the speaker is expecting for an answer. A translation of Luke 10:40 that considers this grammatical point would go like this: “Lord, You care that my sister has left me to do all the work, don’t You?”
The expected answer is: “Yes, Martha, I do care.” In other words, Martha is saying: “Lord, I know You care, so why aren’t You doing anything about my problem?”
Martha’s struggle was not with her theological understanding of Jesus’ love and compassion; her mistake was in the application of that truth. She knew that Jesus cared, so she assumed that Jesus would want Mary to get to work and help her. After all, how could He care and not want Mary to get working?
Martha really believed that Jesus would champion her cause. But Jesus did not agree with Martha’s application, and this provides a powerful warning for all of us. Having a good theology doesn’t guarantee that we will not find ourselves on the wrong side of an issue from time to time. It is only as we learn to submit our thoughts and assumptions to Christ that we can learn and grow.
Are we open to the possibility that Jesus agrees with “the other guy” and not us?
Are we willing to accept that a “What-would-Jesus-do?” philosophy doesn’t always work?
After all, Martha thought she knew what Jesus would do-but she was wrong. Jesus’ response surprised her and turned her expectations on end. The same thing can happen to us. Indeed, it should happen to us if we desire to grow spiritually.
When we learn to recognize and prayerfully question our underlying assumptions, we begin to develop humility, and this prepares our hearts to become truly teachable servants of Christ.
—Brent Hudson is the pastor of River of Life MB Church in Riverview, Moncton, N.B..