Entertaining to Excess
Now it came to pass, as they went, that he entered into a certain village: and a certain woman named Martha received him into her house. Luke 10:38
suggested further reading: Ecclesiastes 3:1–8
The hospitality of Martha deserves praise. Jesus does commend it, yet he also points out two faults in it. The first is that Martha is excessive in her hospitality and carries it beyond proper bounds. Christ would prefer to be entertained in a simple manner and at moderate expense rather than to subject this holy woman to such hard work.
The second problem is that, by distracting her attention and undertaking more work than is necessary, Martha deprives herself of the blessing of Christ’s visit. This excess is noted by Luke when he speaks of Martha’s “much serving,” for Christ is satisfied with little. It is like offering a magnificent reception to a prophet while not caring enough to listen to him. It is making such great and unnecessary preparations that all the teaching is buried. The true way of receiving prophets is to accept the advantage that God offers to us through their ministry.
We now see that the kind attention of Martha, though deserving of praise, is not unblemished. Furthermore, Martha is so delighted with her own bustling that she even despises her sister Mary’s pious eagerness to receive instruction from Christ. This account warns us that in doing what is right we must take care not to think more highly of ourselves than of others.
for meditation: Have you ever been so preoccupied with entertaining guests that you had no time to interact with them? Were you so busy in the kitchen that you never sat long enough to listen to what your guests had to say? If so, you may be doing what Martha does—opening her home to Jesus without giving him her heart. We all need to pray for grace to set our priorities rightly and to learn lifelong moderation.