It was the prophet Isaiah who wrote: ‘How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth’, Isa. 52. 7. Those words were adapted by the Apostle Paul in his comments on the work of the evangelist: ‘How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things’, Rom. 10. 15, but none could be more appropriately ascribed to the Lord.
Although there is a much wider study that could be undertaken on this theme, I want to look, briefly, at the topic of the feet of the Lord – the feet of Him that bringeth good tidings – and to look at Mary who was found at the feet of the Lord.
Luke 10 – Working at His Feet
– Service in its true perspective
John 11 – Weeping at His Feet
– Sorrow in its true perspective
John 12 – Worshipping at His Feet
– Suffering in its true perspective
You may have noted that of the three occasions we read of this Mary, and Mary is a common name in scripture, we read of her at the feet of the Saviour.
In what might appear to be the introductory remarks surrounding this incident, it is important to notice the reception of the Saviour, ‘a certain woman named Martha received him into her house’, v. 38. There is something rather precious about a house where He is welcomed! It is interesting too to remember the context in which these verses are found – the good Samaritan. In a situation that describes the indifference of the day, that Samaritan had stood out. At the end of the previous chapter, the Lord said, ‘Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head’, 9. 58. Against that background, we find here that the Lord is received. There are very few homes in scripture where we might note that the Saviour was welcome. Says the scripture, ‘Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares’, Heb. 13. 2.
Notice, too, the responses to the Saviour. The response of Mary was she ‘sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word’, v. 39. For Martha, the response was that she was ‘cumbered about much serving’, v. 40.
I feel that we should have some sympathy for Martha. Service for the Lord can become all-consuming, as there is so much that needs to be done and so few that seem able and willing to do it. But should that be our sole focus? The difficulty was that she was ‘cumbered’. Service had become a burden rather than a pleasure. It had distracted her attention from the Lord. It had worn her down, so easily and so quickly.
The evidence is seen in Martha’s words, ‘Lord, dost thou not care’, v. 40. Martha feels isolated and under-valued. Sadly, we have heard similar words before. We might remember the disciples on the storm-tossed Sea of Galilee fighting to save themselves from drowning. Worn down by their task and their inability to cope, Mark tells us, ‘And he [the Lord] was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish?’ Mark 4. 38.
Is this possible? When we are weary and the burden seems unremitting, do we look at the service of others with anger or jealousy welling in our hearts? Do we ever question the Saviour’s interest and care? To take our eye off the Saviour is to lose sight of His character and care.
The reply of the Lord to Martha is instructive. Although there is much in Martha’s attitude that might draw out censure, there is tenderness in the Lord’s approach. Her anxiety and agitation will not be eased by condemnation. Thus, the Lord’s comment upon Mary is paramount, vv. 41, 42. It is imperative that Martha should see what is ‘needful’, or what is necessary or essential. What Martha is doing may be good, Mary has chosen that ‘good part’, that is, she has chosen what is best or better.
The Lord had said, ‘Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink … Is not the life more than meat?’ Matt. 6. 25. It is vital that we appreciate who is at the table rather than what is on the table. The important lesson is to see service in its true perspective and to appreciate the necessity of spending time with the Lord, meditating upon Him and His word.