Preaching to the people, Jesus Christ arrived in Bethany. This town is situated not far from Jerusalem beyond the Mount
of Olives. Here He was received
in the home of a woman by the name of Martha, who had a brother Lazarus
and a sister Mary.
In the home of Lazarus, Jesus Christ has given the
instruction that care for the salvation of the soul is more important than
all other work. The occasion which served to illustrate this teaching was
given to Him by the sisters of Lazarus. Both of them greeted Him with the same
joy, but they expressed their joy differently. Mary sat at the feet of Jesus
and listened to His teaching. Martha in the meantime strenuously busied herself
with elaborate refreshments for Him.
Whether it was because it seemed to Martha that
she could not manage to serve everyone all by herself, or whether it seemed to
her that her sister did not receive Jesus Christ as she ought, Martha went to
the Saviour and said, "Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to
serve alone? Tell her then to help me."
But the Lord answered her, "Martha, Martha
you are anxious and troubled about many things (that is, Martha’s energy
was directed to superfluous things, to worldly, transitory things that one
could manage to do without), but only one thing is needful (that is,
attention to the Word of God and fulfilment of His will). Mary has chosen
the good portion, which shall not be taken away from her."
It happened on one occasion when Jesus Christ
talked with the people that one woman could not contain the joy in her soul
from His words and loudly exclaimed from the crowd, "Blessed
(fortunate in the highest degree) is the Mother who bore You
and nursed You!"
But the Saviour said, "Yea rather, blessed
are those who hear the Word of God and keep it," — that is, those who
live by the commandments of God. This was not said to imply that the Mother of
God did not keep the Law of God but to emphasize the fact that even greater
than Her physical care for the Saviour was Her
obedience to God’s word.