“That Good Part”


I’m slowly getting back my morning routine–coffee with Garrett, Bible study, yoga and writing. The baby is my ever-present sidekick so I have to either work around her or work with her. To practice yoga and write, it’s work around. So I decided to work with her for my Bible study. Her brain is developing every day, so reading to her and teaching her even though she can’t understand or respond and won’t remember is still good for her development.

I expect this pedagogical approach will benefit us both. I especially like the idea of nurturing her language skills. I have a little trouble bringing myself to talk to her when it feels like I’m just talking to myself about things that aren’t even worth saying, so this gives me something to talk about.

Today I read to her from Luke 10, the story of Mary and Martha. It’s only a few verses but still took me a while (including two diaper changes) to work through with her. I read it in NIV and KJV (shown below).

38 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.

39 And she had a sister called Mary, which also sat at Jesus’ feet, and heard his word.

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.

First of all, Nenive, “cumber” is a great word whether you’re talking about being encumbered (troubled or made difficulty for) or Benedict Cumberbatch. Second, “careful” here literally means “full of cares” as in stressed. Third, don’t tattle–talk to the person directly.

How awkward was Martha’s interruption of Jesus to the other people there? It seems like someone trying to stir up drama… I wonder how this story would have read if Martha hadn’t tattled on Mary to Jesus… surely in a small residence it would be obvious to everyone that one person is working while another is sitting. Would Jesus have said anything to Martha if she had not complained about Mary? If she had had a good attitude about serving, would that have been equal to sitting and listening receptively?

Martha could have asked Mary for help if she wanted, instead of trying to embarrass her sister in front of everyone. At the same time, Mary could have encouraged Martha to take a break and sit with her.

Why did Luke record this brief story with its abrupt ending? The story concludes with Jesus’ admonishment of Martha and there is no narrative description of Mary’s, Martha’s or Jesus’ actions afterward. Did Martha quit working and sit down in a huff and maintain a bad attitude? Or did she humble herself, quit working and sit down? Did Mary scoot over and make room for her sister on the floor, or did she gloat over her sister? Is the canoe wood, or aluminum…? Considering and discussing motives and ramifications forces me to examine myself and imagine how I would have behaved in this situation.

Fourth, and to conclude, Nenive, choose “that good part” each day of your life. That is what I do when I spend time with scripture and the baby instead of catching up on chores.

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