Monday, July 29, 2013

There’s Something about Mary Magdalene

“The apostle to the apostles.” That’s what Bernard of Clairvaux called her. And though her name has been sullied by fads in fiction and shoddy scholarship as of late, she deserves a place of honor in Christian history. Mary of Magdala, no doubt, has been called many things. But she is best known for declaring the good news of Jesus’ resurrection to the disciples that first Easter morning. And she is rightfully listed among the eyewitnesses of Jesus’ saving work. That also makes her a defender of the gospel. After all, Mary Magdalene was present during a great deal of Jesus’ ministry, saw Jesus die, witnessed his burial, and was the first to see him alive again after his resurrection. In today’s court of law, Mary Magdalene would be considered an expert eyewitness. And in the church we give thanks for her apology (defense), and the rather unlikely source of veracity that she provides in the historical account of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection.

In his meticulous book on the Gospels, Jesus and the Eyewitnesses, Richard Bauckham makes the point (quite convincingly I might add) that the people named in the Gospels were: 1) well known in the Christian community at the time the Gospels were written; 2) still alive at the time of writing and were well known members of the church (such as Mary Magdalene); and 3) ongoing witnesses to the events of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. We see this last point demonstrated in 1 Corinthians 15 where Paul cites over 500 eyewitnesses of Jesus’ resurrection, stressing that many of them were still alive. What’s more, each of the synoptic Gospels repeatedly mentions Mary Magdalene by name as an eyewitness.

Bauckham writes, “In the Synoptic Gospels the role of the women as eyewitnesses is crucial: they see Jesus die, they see his body being laid in the tomb, they find the tomb empty. The fact that some of the women were at all three events means that they can testify that Jesus was dead when laid in the tomb and that it was the tomb in which he was buried that they subsequently found empty…it could hardly be clearer that the Gospels are appealing to their role as eyewitnesses.” [1]
Bauckham then goes on to mention one more noteworthy point, namely, that in each of the Gospels’ accounts two or three women are mentioned, thus meeting the Torah’s stipulation for eyewitnesses (Deut. 19:15).
It is easy for us, living in the 21st century, to take this simple fact for granted. But a woman’s status in society in the first century is radically different from the 21st

Unlike today, in the first century, women couldn’t simply walk into a courtroom and give testimony, practice law and the like. Both the Talmud and Josephus are abundantly clear on the value of a woman’s testimony in the court of law. It was considered inadmissible and it was downright improper for them to speak. Their testimony was even considered to be on the same level as a robber. Roman society treated women no differently, and far worse in many cases.

In clear contrast to the sitz im leben of the first century, Jesus’ treatment of the women who followed and listened to him (and those he came into contact with throughout his ministry) was uncharacteristically respectful and dignified. What’s more, Jesus bestowed great honor upon many women who accompanied him and the disciples. This is clearly seen in the eyewitness accounts of the resurrection in the Gospels themselves. It was women, not men, who were the first to see Jesus after he rose from the dead.

What’s the significance of the women’s role as eyewitnesses? 

Gary Habermas and Michael Licona, both of whom are experts on the issue of Jesus’ physical resurrection from the dead, explain it well in The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus:

“Given the low first-century view of women that was frequently shared by Jew and Gentile, it seems unlikely that the Gospel authors would either invent or adjust such testimonies. That would mean placing words in the mouths of those who would not be believed by many, making them the primary witnesses to the empty tomb. If the Gospel writers had originated the story of the empty tomb, it seems far more likely that they would have depicted men discovering its vacancy and being the first to see the risen Jesus. Why would they not list the male disciples of Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus and avoid the female issue altogether? If the account of the empty tomb had been invented, it would most likely not have listed the women as the primary witnesses, since in that day a woman’s testimony was not nearly as credible as a man’s.”[2]

In his magnum opus of legal apologetics, Tractatus Logico Theologicus, John Warwick Montgomery also mentions what can be called the “unbelievability” factor:

“…the discovery of the empty tomb on Easter morning [is] accepted by the great majority of critics because that discovery by women would have been so unlikely a fabrication in the context of a male-dominated 1st century Judaism.”[3]

And finally, in an interview with apologist William Lane Craig, recorded in his book The Case for Christ, Lee Strobel records this helpful observation:

“Women were on a very low rung of the social ladder in first-century Palestine. There are old rabbinical sayings that said, ‘Let the words of the Law be burned rather than delivered to women’ and ‘Blessed is he whose children are male, but woe to him whose children are female.’ Women’s testimony was regarded as so worthless that they weren’t even allowed to serve as legal witnesses in a Jewish court of Law. In light of this it’s absolutely remarkable that the chief witnesses of the empty tomb are these women who were friends of Jesus. Any later legendary account would have certainly portrayed male disciples as discovering the tomb – Peter or John, for example. The fact that women are the first witnesses to the empty tomb is most plausibly explained by the reality that – like it or not – they were the discoverers of the empty tomb! This shows that the gospel writers faithfully recorded what happened, even if it was embarrassing. This bespeaks the historicity of this tradition rather than its legendary status.”[4]

This aspect of the women’s testimony has also been identified as the factor of embarrassment. For example, the disciples are routinely depicted as missing the point, not listening to Jesus, saying foolish things, or worse (betrayal, denial, etc.). In Peter’s case this is especially important as it parallels the issue of the women at the tomb. For example, Peter’s attempt to detour Christ from being crucified (Matt 16:21-22) and then publicly renouncing any association with Jesus (Matt 26:69-74) is openly admitted, even though it raises the question of Peter’s wisdom and integrity. It would have been easier to omit or alter such details for the sake of spreading the gospel message. 

In other words, if the disciples – or the Gospel writers – were trying to fabricate the story as passable, plausible, and true in the eyes of their first-century cultural critics, they would’ve been more likely to exclude the women’s testimony as well as any embarrassing, self-implicating comments and events. The fact that they include both of these items in their account of what happened lends credibility and integrity to the historical veracity of their statements, as well as to quality and character of the eyewitnesses who report them.
To be sure, this is not the only piece of evidence that we can use when building a positive case that Jesus physically rose from the dead. But on the other hand, as eyewitness accounts, the testimony of the women should be not underestimated either. As we give thanks to God for the faith of Mary Magdalene (whom we commemorated on Monday) we also give thanks to the role she played as an expert eyewitness. She was not only an apostle to the apostles, but also remains an apologist for the church and the world to this day. For like all good apologists, she points us to the crucified and risen Christ, to her Savior and ours.

We sing Your praise for Mary,
Who came at Easter dawn
To look for Jesus’ body
And found her Lord was gone.
But, as with joy she saw Him
In resurrection light,
May we by faith behold Him,
The Day who ends our night!

For All the Faithful Women – LSB 855:11

[1] Richard Bauckham, Jesus and the Eyewitnesses…
[2] Gary Habermas and Michael Licona, The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus. Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, p. 73. 2004.
[3] John Warwick Montgomery, Tractatus Logico Theologicus. Verlag fur Kultur und Wisselschaft, p. 81, 2005.
[4] Lee Strobel, The Case for Christ: A Journalist’s Personal Investigation of the Evidence for Jesus. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, p. 217-218. 1998.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Sermon for Pentecost 10: "Mountains of Forgiveness"

+ 10th Sunday after Pentecost – July 28th, 2013 +
Series C: Genesis 18:17-33; Colossians 2:6-19; Luke 11:1-13

In the name of + Jesus. Amen.

Jesus was no stranger to Mountains. Just 40 days old, Jesus was brought up to the temple mount fulfilling the Law for you. In the wilderness, Jesus was brought up to a mountain by Satan, defeating temptation for you. The Sermon on the Mount – Christ’s teaches you. Mt. of Olives – Jesus prays for you. Mt. Tabor – Jesus was transfigured for you as he talked with Moses and Elijah – fellow mountain men – about His coming exodus (death) in Jerusalem on another mountain. And He prayed the prayer we hear in Luke’s gospel today.  “Father, if it be your will let this cup pass from me. But nevertheless not my will, but yours be done.”
 And it was. The Father’s will was done upon…you guessed it…a mountain. Not a green hill far away. But Calvary. Golgotha. The place of the skull. Mount doom. A mountain where heaven and hell collided, where life and death contended. Jesus was buried in the avalanche of our sin. Covered by mountains of our guilt. But that mountain of death caved in from below. Christ erupted from the grave – an Easter volcano, spewing forth resurrected light and glory and life.
The stone was rolled away. The tomb was empty. Jesus is alive. Resurrected. Calvary was conquered and along with it your sin and guilt and death. All of it buried in Jesus’ tomb. Jesus moved on to another mountain near Bethany. There he ascended for you. And now he sits enthroned in crucified and risen glory on the throne of Mt. Zion reigning and ruling over you in mercy and grace.
You’ve heard a lot about mountains this weekend. Fitting really since we’re up here in the mountains. Throughout the Scriptures, Christ does some of his greatest work on mountains, from Sinai to Calvary to Zion. Prayer is one of those great works. And right prayer – just like right worship – begins with receiving.
And so we receive from the Lord, his prayer. The Lord’s Prayer. Prayed of course…on a mountain (notice a pattern here?). So let’s take a a short trek through the Lord’s Prayer. I think you’ll find – as I did reading this text again this week – that each petition is fulfilled on Mt. Calvary.
Now before we begin, one word must be said about the prayer in Luke as compared to Matthew. It looks and sounds different doesn’t it? Why is that?  Some cry out: “See the bible is full of contradictions!”  But that is most illogical. It makes more sense to say, “Jesus taught this prayer on more than one occasion, as he did with many other teachings.”
So…When you pray, say:
Father, Hallowed be your name.
That’s remarkable! Amazing! Shocking! outrageous. Jesus tells us to address God as “Father.” Jesus has placed us into the same relationship with God that he has. But we don’t deserve to be called sons. We were rebellious children. Wayward sons – like the prodigal in Luke 15. But Baptism changed all that. Something just as remarkable happened in those waters. You went in a son of Adam and you came out of the water as God’s own child. You’re adopted. Born from above by the water, word and the Spirit. And all of Christ’s gifts – forgiveness, righteousness, eternal life, daily resurrection, cleansing, adoption – comes from Christ’s death and resurrection, poured into the water. That makes Baptism your death and resurrection.
In exchange for our rebellion Christ was the obedient, faithful Son. For our wayward, sinful lives, He offered up his perfect life and sacrifice for us. All on a mountain, where the holy One became unholy to make us unholy ones holy. His name is cursed and mocked and blasphemed so that your name might be hallowed. Now in Baptism you have a new name – saint, the holy ones. Holy in Jesus’ Name.
Your Kingdom Come…
Christ is born as a king and dies as a king but in unexpected humility and lowliness. A servant. A sacrifice. A king of suffering and death. In Greek mythology, Zeus, the king of the gods dwelt on Mt. Olympus. In order to please him you had go up. Ascend. Achieve. Be a hero.
It might be tempting to treat Jesus the same way: Treat Jesus like a strict school master: mind your teacher, get a sticker. Throw pencil erasers at his back is turned – and you’re busted. And this is how all of the world’s religions – all of them except Christianity – look at questions like salvation and eternal life. You must clip on, climb up, use every carabiner and cam available to start your climb up to God. Better get started, it’s a long way to the top…

But that’s Christianity…In the NT, Jesus comes down. God gets close to you. Infant close. Flesh and blood close. Bleeding. Sweating. Weeping humanity. Dying on the cross. That’s the kind of King you have in Jesus: He lays down his life for his lawless subjects and then gives you the kingdom.
What a relief! You don’t have to hike a mountain to pray or throw ten virgins into the fire to assure God’s favor. You don’t need a mountain top experience to get close to God. Jesus’ kingdom comes to you every Sunday in Divine Service. See your king, riding on the humble means he gives us: sinful pastors announcing absolution to fellow sinners. Water, word, bread and wine. These are Jesus’ royal decrees. And Jesus is really the only royal child worth getting worked up about. Jesus is your King – crucified, risen and ascended. And wherever Jesus is there is the kingdom of God. Long live the King!
Give us each our daily bread…
Are we praying just for bread here? No. Everything. He who did not spare his own son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Does that mean that our daily food comes because of Jesus’ death on the cross? Yes. You’re telling me that I have house, home, family, shoes, clothing, good and faithful spouse and good weather and all those things Luther lists in the Catechism all because Jesus rose from the dead? Yes, that’s exactly right. Our heavenly Father does all this – and more - out divine goodness and mercy without any merit or worthiness in us.
But there’s more; Jesus gives us daily bread on our table…and his. At Jesus’ altar the earthly and the heavenly collide in a spectacular feast. Bread is Jesus’ body. Wine is Jesus’ blood. Simple words forgive your sin. Jesus brings Mt. Calvary to you in this holy supper. Give us this day our daily Jesus.
And forgive us our sins, for we ourselves forgive everyone who is indebted to us…
Debt – we’ve heard that word in the news a lot lately. Luke uses this word here (as does Matthew in Mt. 6) just like he does in the parable of the unjust steward, to describe an unpayable, insurmountable debt. If calculable in dollars, our sin would make even our national debt look like a child’s piggy bank. That’s how our old Scroogish sinful nature works, hoarding and piling up our twisted treasures – each and every one of our sins held tightly, my precioussss. But it’s fools gold. We sit on a throne of lies. Once we’ve proclaimed ourselves king of the hill, the Law points out that we’re sitting on a dung heap and our house is built on sinking sand.
Who can scale Mt. Sinai unscathed? Not you. Not me. But there is one. Jesus knows no sin. He is blameless. He kept the Law, every last word, every last letter. But Jesus didn’t keep the Law for himself. Every last little, “do this,” is done for you. You are his dearest treasure.
And here’s the blessed irony. Although Jesus could scale Sinai without a scratch, he lets those two tables of Sinai granite bury him in your sin and death. He lets the mountain of our sinful debt come crashing down on him in bloody agony. It all happened on a mountain… “And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.”
You have been forgiven much. Now, go in love and forgive much.
And lead us not into temptation…
Temptations come in many forms. But most of them one thing in common: pointing us to ourselves. But what does Jesus do when tempted? Does he look to himself? No. He clings to the Word and promises of the Father. And He overcame temptation for you. He defeated the devil for you on a mountain. He died for you on a mountain. He emptied hell and the grave of its power for you. 
So now, when the devil comes and hangs your sin in your face like a dirty diaper, say to him, “So what, devil. I admit it. Those are my filthy, stinky, rotten sins…and here are a few more you forgot to mention. But they’re not mine anymore. All my sin belongs to Jesus, so you can take them all up with him. For he suffered and made a satisfaction on my behalf. His name is Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Where he is, there I shall be also.” 

Welcome to Mt. Zion.

In the name of + Jesus. Amen.

Friday, July 26, 2013

A Wedding Sermon: "Chosen"

+ Wedding of Jeb and Danae Ferria – July 25th, 2013 +
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12; Colossians 3:12-17

 In the Name of + Jesus. Amen.

There’s a saying in the Harry Potter books that goes like this: “A wizard never chooses his wand, the wand chooses the wizard.”

The same could be said for Bible verses at weddings. The couple may think they are choosing the Bible verse. But perhaps the Bible verse is choosing them. In other words, it is our Lord who works upon us through his word, not the other way around. And today this passage from Colossians 3 has chosen Jeb and Danae’s ears – and our ears – for the hearing of it God’s Word:

12 Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.

It would seem that our Lord works the same way too. It is not us who choose the Lord, but he who chooses us. It’s true for eternal life. We are God’s chosen ones. Called out of the darkness of our sin, guilt and death into the light and freedom won for us by Christ’s death on the cross. For he has a compassionate heart that bled for us, is full of kindness poured out in mercy for us, was humble unto death for us. What’s more, Jesus dwells with us in forgiveness.

And what our Lord says about his Son’s life, death and resurrection and forgiveness, love and our salvation is also true of marriage. Today, it may look like Jeb and Danae are choosing to be married to one another. And on one level that is true. They are companions, best friends, now they will be husband and wife as well. They love one another. They live in forgiveness with one another. Their life together is a blessing to one another and their families and friends. And they do all this because Christ first loved them.

So, today, it’s not just that Jeb and Danae have chosen each other, but more importantly, that our Lord and Savior has chosen, first in Baptism by calling them to faith Christ. And now, today, He them and places them into this union of holy marriage. Today Christ chooses you, Jeb and Danae to be his bride. For he is your bridegroom. He is your faithful Savior. He will have and hold you from this day forward in sickness and in health, in good times and bad, in richness or poverty; he will love and cherish you not just till death, but forever. For even death will not separate you from the love of God which is yours in Christ Jesus. Today Christ pledges you his faithfulness. And this strand of three cords – Jeb, Danae and Christ – is not quickly broken.

And so it is for all of us. We are Christ’s chosen people. We are His beloved. For Christ loves you – his people, the church – in this way. He gave himself up for you, sacrificed himself, was humbled unto death for you – to present you in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or sin or guilt or any such thing. You are Christ’s. He has chosen you. You are forgiven. You are loved. Now love and forgive much.

14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

In the Name of + Jesus. Amen.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Sermon for Pentecost 9: "Don't Just Do Something; Sit There!"

+ 9th Sunday after Pentecost – July 21, 2013 +
Series C, Proper 11: Genesis 18:1-10; Colossians 1:21-29; Luke 10:38-42

In the Name of Jesus + Amen.

Don’t just sit there; do something!  We’ve all heard that before…or said it.  Usually it’s mom and dad telling their children to remove their lazy summer behinds from the couch, turn the TV off, stop complaining about how bored they are, go outside and do something. 
The story of Mary and Martha seems simple.  Mary’s is with Jesus. Martha is indignant that she’s not helping her in the kitchen.  Martha complains to Jesus, expecting Him to send Mary to help out.  But there’s a shocker ending. Jesus is always throwing curve balls – always eating with tax collectors and sinners, always forgiving prostitutes who fall at his feet, always preaching about the unlikely Samaritans showing unlikely mercy to others.  Instead of scolding Mary for her indolence, He rewards her and lovingly admonishes hard-working Martha.  But this story isn’t really about Martha, or Mary – it’s about Jesus.
Jesus coming to Mary and Martha’s for dinner.  Jesus serving us. What hospitality, what a host – enough to put Martha Stewart to shame.
So, you don’t get out the Dixie cups, paper plates that crack when you load them up with too much potato salad, or those plastic forks that break in your fried chicken.  No that won’t do for the Lord.  None of those 99 cent frozen pizzas or dilled pickles in little plastic individual cups.  Even Grandma’s china doesn’t seem to cut it. 
Oh so much to do. Vacuum. Dust. Sweep. Wax. Polish. Buff. Repeat.  Cook the meal.  Pour the wine.  Grill the steak...just right.  Mash the potatoes to perfect fluffiness, slice the artisan bread, top the salad with walnuts, cranberries and pre-packaged crumbles of feta cheese.  Martha’s running around makes the chicken without a head look silly.  She thinks she’s doing her best to serve the Lord. 
My, won’t Jesus be impressed with all her hard work?!  “It’s all for you Jesus! I’m giving you my all, unlike someone over there, just sitting like a lupus.  Lord, why don’t you tell her to do something, don’t just sit there.  But, to Jesus be the glory.  It’s all for you Lord!”
We’ve all done this – we pull a Martha, believing our highest form of worship is to serve Jesus.  We’re busy people here in Southern California.  Living life in the 8-lane fast-lane, the rat race, the daily grind – whatever you call it, it’s crazy, running here and there.  Weekend outings.  Work and play.  Sports or Leisure. Business or pleasure.  We spend more time in the car, on the phone, emailing or texting or sitting in meetings during a week than anything else…much less sitting at the feet of Jesus.  Then there’s work to be done, quotas to be met, bills to be paid, household chores to finish, and then you get up tomorrow and press the repeat button.   Yes, we are busy people.
Our congregation is no different.  There’s always work to be done, and always too few people to do it, we say.  Programs to run; committees and boards to chair; property to care for; bills to pay, meetings that go on and on.  The work piles up so much that it overshadows divine service.   Say it ain’t so?! But it is. We’re all guilty here; we’ve all placed our priorities over the priorities of Christ’s word and sacraments.
Divine Service always comes first in the Christian congregation.  It’s why God gathers a congregation in the first place, so that we can sit at the feet of Jesus and hear His Word and receive his gifts.  Any work that takes the place of worship, no matter how honorable or important it might otherwise be, is idolatry.  When we’re so busy we can’t pause to hear God’s Word, we can hardly turn around and ask God to bless what we’re so busy doing. Repent. Worship isn’t about us serving God. That’s what much of what passes for Christian music today does. Worship is about God serving us. Divine serve us. Christ for us. That’s why we pray, praise and give thanks. Gift given and received. Amen!

It’s our old sinful nature that loves anxiousness and busyness – do this, do that.  Do is always a Law word.  Do is a command.  Now, there’s a place for the Law; but let’s not fool ourselves into thinking that the Law gets us anywhere closer to Jesus.  The Law is a mirror that exposes our sin, not a motivator or a spiritual 5-hour energy drink.
That’s why Jesus’ words seem rather shocking, offensive, even outrageous: in the life of the Church, Jesus is the real host.  He’s the one giving.  He’s the one doing everything for you.  He’s the dishing up His daily forgiveness for us undeserving sinners.  He’s the one pardoning your unpardonable sins, eating and dining with us sinners, declaring you saints by His gracious promise.  This is what Jesus does best: gives and gives and gives to you.
Redeemer, Redeemer, you are anxious and troubled about many things – perhaps giving or finances, perhaps the participation in outreach events and fellowship, perhaps you’re worried about the our church and school and the next 50 years – but this one thing is needful. Jesus Crucified and risen. He’s your good – no your best – portion.
Come to me all you who are heavy laden and I will give you an everlasting Sabbath rest.  Jesus is the one thing necessary.  And all that we need His hand provides from the dinner table to the His own table – it’s all gifted to you in Jesus’ Name. 
But Martha did all that work!  And Mary just sat on her rear.  What a bum!  All the time, treasures and talents I’ve offered...all to the glory of God…and Jesus doesn’t even care?!  We’re hurt, maybe even offended by Jesus who doesn’t seem to care at all about our good works for Him, how we’ve toiled for Him.  Our old Adam stands insulted that our good works count for nothing before Him.  This is how we miss out on the one thing that’s most needful: Jesus and His Word – His teaching, His forgiveness.  His body and blood. 
Notice too that Jesus doesn’t scold Martha for her work, but lovingly admonishes her not to be so anxious and troubled that she misses the one needful thing: Himself. That’s why Mary is praised; Mary simply sits and listens and receives.
But this is not yet the Good News.  The Gospel is not, Mary chose the better part…now you go do likewise!  Go get Mary faith.  No, that’s Jesus + works.  That kind of preaching is popular, but it’s poisonous.  Whenever you here “Jesus and,” or “Jesus forgives…but,” you’re right back in the kitchen with Martha.
It’s true, God loves a cheerful giver.  Serving others is good, but it’s not the Gospel.  God doesn’t need your good works…but your neighbor does. We give because we receive. We love because he first loved us.
So it’s also true that God also loves a cheerful receiver.  That’s why, today, you’ve been brought to the feet of Jesus, not because you did anything spectacular or live a really busy productive life like Martha, not because you are super pious like Mary but because Jesus has washed you clean in Baptism, taught you his Word, sat you here by His feet to receive His gifts and then He keeps on gifting you everything He has to give: His life, His death, His resurrection, His baptism, His Absolution, His Supper.
Christ does all of this for you.  He forgives your sins; He opens heaven for you; His Word is preached into your ears; your sin, your death and the devil’s temptations are conquered, buried at the bottom of the font – all before lunch!  Jesus is the better part – take eat, it’s Him.  Take drink; it’s Him.   Jesus is your best portion. Jesus is your rest in this weary, busy, anxious world. He lived the perfect life you run around so busily trying to accomplish – in your stead. 
You’re brought to the feet of Jesus, not because you’re a Mary or a Martha but because you are  a sinner like they were, and Jesus is doing everything necessary for your salvation, right here this morning.  It’s Sunday morning and you’re forgiven.
And having rested at Jesus’ feet like Mary – learning of his love, hearing his forgiveness, receiving his body and blood – you are now ready to serve like Martha – busy, active, clear witness, caring service.
Don’t be afraid. Jesus has given you, still gives you, and will give you exactly what is needed: the best portion – Himself. He is the one thing needful. And today, Jesus is here at this altar serving you as one who is busier than Martha ever could’ve been. Busy forgiving your sin and giving you the best portion…Himself. He has chosen you.  And you will never be taken away from Him. 
So don’t just do something – sit here, at the feet of Jesus.

In the Name of Jesus + Amen.