“She has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken from her.” —From Luke 10:42.
My experience with this verse is that there are multiple polarized interpretations, but no less enthusiastic and free application of it. I think most people don’t know exactly what to do with Martha & Mary and how Jesus addresses them in this passage, and most people who do probably are far more firm about what this means for their lives than perhaps the passage itself warrants. I myself have been guilty of this—I’ve heard a couple different interpretations, and I’ve often just run with the one I felt like in the moment.
Since I’ll be offering this as a limited edition print in my store when it launches, I thought it beneficial to let any potential customer know what they’re getting into. Just kidding! This is a great section of Scripture, and I think it more than merits a place on anyone’s wall. Moreover, I don’t think that, because so many interpretations exist, we should camp out in interpretive nihilism (i.e. start believing that we can’t even know what the text means).
Martha, who was busy doing tasks associated with hospitality, thought that Mary should help her rather than sit at Jesus’ feet and learn from Him. But Jesus, in response, affirmed Mary’s original choice. Jesus isn’t necessarily condemning “being busy,” or making a statement about who is saved and who is not. Some commentators even said that Mary and Martha represent two different dispositions, and that each come with their own struggles; I'm not so sure we can remove the value statement from Jesus' words in such a way. Calvin affirms that Jesus isn’t juxtaposing learning doctrine and being hospitable or even condemning one as bad. He is, however, advocating for right prioritization. Being a fine housekeeper is a beautiful and important thing. Being a zealous disciple is even more important; this is the investment that will not perish. We should not neglect either, but we should consider spiritual nourishment as the higher priority.
What a beautiful reminder for any Christian! On a specific level, this verse is talking about housekeeping, but on a more general level, it is telling us something about right priorities. Above all things, nourish your soul.