Please join me in a Bible study of Luke 10:38-42
Start by reading the passage in your Bible and perhaps in more than one version.
Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village, and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.” And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”
-Luke 10:38-42 NKJVNow let’s focus in on verse 40
The NKJV says Martha was distracted. Distracted is a word in common use today but it is not very specific.
Reading the verse in other versions may be helpful in getting a clearer picture.
The best way to dig a little further is to find the original Greek word used in this verse.
Step one is to go to the KJV where we find the word used is cumbered.
Here are verses 40-42 in the KJV
40 But Martha was cumbered about much serving, and came to him, and said, Lord, dost thou not care that my sister hath left me to serve alone? bid her therefore that she help me.
41 And Jesus answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art careful and troubled about many things:
42 But one thing is needful: and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall not be taken away from her.
You can do some quick and easy research here at Blue Letter Bible
The first thing you find is the number in Strong’s which leads to the Greek word. Click on the number and you should find yourself HERE
Greek word – perispaō
Cumber: lit., “to draw around” (peri), “draw away, distract,” is used in the Passive Voice in the sense of being over-occupied about a thing, to be “cumbered,”
Interesting that this word is only used once. We don’t have any other verses with the same word to compare with Luke 10:40. However, there is one instance of a similar word used in Luke 13:7. See this in the Blue Letter Bible Follow the Strong’s number 2673 to the Greek word
Isn’t it great that you can so easily access the original words, their meanings, and additional information? Take advantage often of the free resources at Blue Letter Bible
Read what John Wesley wrote about this portion of scripture
verse 40 – Martha was encumbered – The Greek word properly signifies to be drawn different ways at the same time, and admirably expresses the situation of a mind, surrounded (as Martha’s then was) with so many objects of care, that it hardly knows which to attend to first.
verse 41 – Martha, Martha – There is a peculiar spirit and tenderness in the repetition of the word: thou art careful, inwardly, and hurried, outwardly.
from John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes
from Matthew Henry’s Commentary
- She was cumbered about it; periespato-she was just distracted with it. Note, Whatever cares the providence of God casts upon us we must not be cumbered with them, nor be disquieted and perplexed by them. Care is good and duty; but cumber is sin and folly.
- She was then cumbered about much serving when she should have been with her sister, sitting at Christ’s feet to hear his word. Note, Worldly business is then a snare to us when it hinders us from serving God and getting good to our souls.
It seems clear from only a quick study of verse 40 that Martha was not simply concerned about cooking a meal for her guests that day. She was overwhelmed by a number of cares and worries perhaps every day. Seeing her sister sitting at the feet of Jesus instead of joining her in the meal preparation was the tipping point for Martha. She became so upset that she went to Jesus about it. Her question to Jesus clearly revealed her anxious state of mind. Without realizing it, she had done the best thing she could have possibly done in her situation. Anxious, stressed and overwhelmed? Call on Jesus!
Jesus answered Martha by first explaining her true state of mind. He described her as worried and troubled by many things. This revealed the truth of a deeper problem that Martha may not have even realized herself. What Jesus said to Martha removes all possibility that Martha’s irritation that day was simply a little stress caused by the desire to serve a nice meal.
We do not know what all the cares, troubles and worries were that surrounded Martha. Daily responsibilities and financial concerns connected to maintaining her home may have contributed to the load she carried. These alone could have been heavy on her mind.
We may not be able to determine the many things that distracted Martha on that particular day but we can definitely know where her focus should have been.
- Martha was distracted from ____________.
- What exactly bothered Martha about Mary sitting at the feet of Jesus?
To be continued…
Meanwhile please research Luke 10:38-42 yourself and then come back and share your discoveries in the comments below? Love to know your thoughts!
Don’t miss part 2 of Martha and Mary
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