NKJV - 42 "But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her."
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In the story cited in the question, Jesus and the apostles were visiting the home of the sisters Martha and Mary and their brother Lazarus in Bethany. Martha was concentrating mainly on all the domestic tasks associated with hosting and serving so many people, while Mary (rather than assisting Martha) was sitting at Jesus' feet listening to His teaching. Martha became exasperated by the fact that Mary was not helping out with all the work that needed to be done, and appealed to Jesus Himself to tell Mary to do so. Jesus sought to widen Martha's perspective by lovingly (as indicated by addressing her by name twice) telling her that her concerns (while perhaps understandable) were not worth the anxiety and vexation that Martha was experiencing, since they were focused only on earthly, temporal issues. What was genuinely important (so much so by comparison, in fact, that it was the only thing that really mattered) were the eternal truths that Jesus was imparting to those (including Mary) who were gathered around listening to Him. Jesus said that, since Mary had chosen that one "needful" thing (which Jesus called "the good portion"), He was not going to take it away from her by commanding her to stop listening to Him so that she could help Martha.
Mary and Martha were sisters of Lazarus. Martha was remembered for her impatience and excessive concern for mundane matters, whereas Mary is remembered for her spiritual desire and discernment (Matt.26:6-13, John 11:2, 12:2-8). In Luke 10: 38-42, Martha was distracted by matters that, in the light of Jesus' visit should have been secondary matters. Jesus in calling Martha's name thrice pointed out to her that she was unduly distracted and concerned about earthly things. In verse 42, "One Thing" can be seen in two different lights; (1) it could mean only one simple dish is required for a meal and Martha is capable of the preparations without Mary's help. In this case Martha was being rebuked. (2) Jesus could be referring to the spiritual nourishment craved by Mary, as seen in her fellowship with Him. Implying that Martha too should leave her housework for a time and concentrate on urgent spiritual matters. This incident is recorded to show that Jesus thought that listening to the Word of the Lord is of great importance and it is necessary to lean on the Lord (or sit at His feet) to keep your life in balance.
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