Sunday, July 14, 2019

Proper 11 Series C

Proper 11 Series C
(For 7.21.2019)

(July 17-23)

Genesis 18:1–10a (10b–14)
Colossians 1:21–29
Luke 10:38–42

The Word of Christ Is the One Thing Needed

The Lord appeared to [Abraham] by the oaks of Mamre” (Genesis 18:1) and received his hospitality. But Abraham received the gracious promise of a son. Though Abraham and Sarah were very old, nothing is “too hard for the Lord” (Genesis 18:14). 

His Word appointed the time and fulfilled the promise. In the same way, the Lord Jesus “entered a village” and received Martha’s hospitality (Luke 10:38). “Martha was distracted with much serving” because she was “anxious and troubled about many things” (Luke 10:40–41), but her sister Mary “sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching” (Luke 10:39). The service of love is no sin, but “one thing is necessary” for both faith and love — the Word of Christ (Luke 10:42). 

Thus, the ministers of Christ are sent “to make the word of God fully known, the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints” (Colossians 1:25–26).

One Thing Is Necessary
Published on July 17th, 2019 - Pr. Daniel J. Brege

Mary sat at Jesus’ feet and listened to His teaching.  The one thing necessary is continued catechesis—continued learning and growing in the Word of Christ. This is what Mary was doing.

In Luke 1:4 we are informed that the Gospel was written so that the unidentified Theophilus would have certainty concerning the things that he was “taught” (literally “catechized”).  Theophilus, Mary, Martha and each “mature” Christian has been catechized—taught the foundational truths of the faith.  Jesus would drive home the reality that the one thing necessary is to continue at His feet, continue to be catechized.  Was Martha’s work of serving then worthless?  By no means!  But continued catechesis is the ultimate necessity.

Such continued catechesis should first be realized in the home.  Upon completion of the 8th grade when children are traditionally “confirmed” among us, they may wrongly be given the impression that they are done, that they have “graduated”.  The head of a given household should take it upon himself to keep his family at the feet of Jesus.  We then also should take it upon ourselves to have Jesus continue catechizing us as individually we daily study our catechism.  Martin Luther, who penned the Small Catechism, wrote in his preface to the Large Catechism:  “I must still read and study the [Small] Catechism daily, yet I cannot master it as I wish, but must remain a child and pupil of the Catechism…”  Luther remained at the feet of Jesus, he remained a student of the Catechism.  Of course “catechesis” generally connotes instruction in God’s Word, but specifically it refers to instruction drawn from The Small Catechism.

Some might ask, “Why are you emphasizing The Small Catechism?  Shouldn’t our emphasis be upon continued study of the Bible?”  Truly we, unlike most in previous centuries, are privileged to personally own and be able freely to study the Holy Bible, the fountain of all doctrine. This is wonderful, yet, as is true of any difficult and deep subject, one must first master the basics, the framework.  Thus to find your way around a city you must first learn the main roads.  Using the main roads you will then learn various roads that branch off of these thoroughfares. The Small Catechism is a wonderful condensation of Holy Scripture, conveying the “main roads” of the faith.[1]  What better way to learn the depths of the Holy Bible than to first master its “main roads”.  Yet as Luther rightly reminds, in this sinful world no one fully masters even the basics of the faith.  So remain a catechist at the feet of Jesus.

Even as The Small Catechism is a wonderful condensation of the entire Bible, so there is an even more concentrated condensation.  The one-word condensation of the Catechism is the same as the one-word condensation of the entire Bible: Jesus.  Jesus—crucified and risen—is the meaning behind, the fulfillment of, and the direction taken in each of the six Chief Parts of the Catechism.  Jesus—crucified and risen—is the summary of the entire Bible (John 5:39, etc.).  Indeed, we sit at the feet of Jesus that we may learn not only from Jesus, but about Him.  And through that Word the Holy Spirit brings eternal gifts, gifts wrought by Jesus.

[1] Luther notes that the church through the centuries especially recognized the first three chief parts to be foundational (Decalogue, Apostles’ Creed, Lord’s Prayer).

Mary and Martha
38 Ἐν δὲ τῷ πορεύεσθαι αὐτοὺς αὐτὸς εἰσῆλθεν εἰς κώμην τινά• γυνὴ δέ τις ὀνόματι Μάρθα ὑπεδέξατο αὐτὸν.
Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a (certain) village. And a (certain) woman named Martha welcomed him into her house.

Why "certain?" Jesus goes to this place and to this woman.

39 καὶ τῇδε ἦν ἀδελφὴ καλουμένη Μαριάμ, ἣ καὶ παρακαθεσθεῖσα πρὸς τοὺς πόδας τοῦ Ἰησοῦ ἤκουεν τὸν λόγον αὐτοῦ.
And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his teaching.

This is perhaps a welcoming on the part of Jesus
Look at those who sat at Jesus' feet...
A prostitute
A demonic
A woman at the tomb Easter Sunday

40 ἡ δὲ Μάρθα περιεσπᾶτο περὶ πολλὴν διακονίαν• ἐπιστᾶσα δὲ εἶπεν• Κύριε, οὐ μέλει σοι ὅτι ἡ ἀδελφή μου μόνην με κατέλειπεν διακονεῖν; εἰπὲ οὖν αὐτῇ ἵνα μοι συναντιλάβηται.
But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.”

Assist me, cooperate, take up the service...

41 ἀποκριθεὶς δὲ εἶπεν αὐτῇ ὁ κύριος• Μάρθα Μάρθα, μεριμνᾷς καὶ θορυβάζῃ περὶ πολλά,
But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things,

Martha is being pulled in a different direction
42 ὀλίγων δέ ἐστιν χρεία ἢ ἑνός• Μαριὰμ γὰρ τὴν ἀγαθὴν μερίδα ἐξελέξατο ἥτις οὐκ ἀφαιρεθήσεταιαὐτῆς.
but one thing is necessary Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.”

This is an attitude of the heart
Don't sit there DO something is the idiom of today. With Jesus it's SIT and listen

This is not an either or distinction Both are necessary yet one is better. The fault is not in her sacrifice but in her trust.

The Greek New Testament: SBL Edition. Copyright © 2010 by Society of Biblical Literature and Logos Bible Software
ESV® Text Edition: 2016. Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

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