Scripture tells us that Mary "sat at [Jesus'] feet and heard His word."
We have no idea how long she sat there; we have no idea how long any of the disciples that invaded Mary and Martha's home that afternoon sat there listening to Jesus teach. We can gather, however, that it must have been quite awhile, because the scripture tells us that "Martha was cumbered about much serving..."
With no modern appliances, preparing a dinner took some time; obviously, if it were long enough for Martha to prepare, cook, and serve those uninvited guests, it's probably safe to say that Mary and the others were sitting at the feet of Jesus for quite awhile. It was long enough that Martha finally reached her breaking point, and went and demanded that Jesus send Mary back to the kitchen.
Interestingly, Jesus did not reprimand Martha for being busy; He didn't belittle her, nor did He play the comparison game...in either direction. Jesus didn't tell Mary that she ought to be more like Martha—busy about the work of the kingdom—nor did He chastise Martha for not taking the time to sit down and listen to Him, as Mary had. He simply pointed out that "Mary has chosen that good part, which shall not be taken from her".
What could possibly have been "good" about Mary just sitting there at the feet of Jesus, listening to Him speak?
What possible good can it do to spend an hour...a half-hour...fifteen minutes, even?...sitting here and just "reading the Bible". Ho hum...what a waste of time. There are so many things to do; I have so much to get done; how can I possibly take a half-hour of my morning to just sit and read the Bible? Or pray? You expect me to pray for an hour, when I have so little time of my own already?
What did Mary accomplish in the time she sat there listening to Him speak? The only thing we have record of is that she was berated by Martha, but commended by Christ Himself. We don't find her lost in worship and adoration; she wasn't crowned Chief Apostle or given any special attention, other than when Jesus refused to send her back to the kitchen.
But what did Mary hear?
In all likelihood, she heard something Martha never heard: some soft-spoken words of wisdom, a promise, assurances that everything would be okay in the days to come...Perhaps Mary even heard some words that caused her to hang on to hope when her brother Lazarus lay dead in the tomb for three days.
Martha had the same opportunity, but she chose to spend her time bustling about "doing" stuff. I've always found it slightly amusing that Martha felt it her duty to provide a meal for the One who had just fed over five thousand with only five loaves of bread and two small fish.
Sometimes I wonder if I suffer from the same malady; do I feel this compulsion to "serve", when what I really should be focusing on is just listening to Him? In all my "busyness" of serving Him, and proving to Him (and hopefully to all those around me who will recognize how spiritually-minded I am by all the work I do for the Kingdom!) how faithful I am, is it possible that I may be missing those quiet words of reassurance, of promise, of hope, of a Love beyond my comprehension?
In the mad rush of today's society, it seems—it really does seem—that 24 hours in a day just isn't enough anymore. And the idea of sitting down with my Bible, or kneeling in my prayer closet, for an hour—or even thirty minutes—of the precious little time I have left for "myself"...it's easy enough to become convinced that that would just be time "thrown away".
Time spent with Jesus, however, is never time wasted, nor thrown away. We are so focused on having immediate results, however, that if we spend a half-hour reading our Bible on Monday morning, and something miraculous hasn't happened before Wednesday night prayer meeting, we fall prey to that mentality that "it's not really accomplishing anything".
Hear me: Time spent with Christ is never time wasted. You may not see immediate, external results; you may not feel goosebumps, or spine-tingling chills; you may spend an hour in prayer, and your Monday be as mundane as always.
Time spent with Jesus Christ is never time wasted.
It is in those times that you devote to Him, that your focus is completely on Him, on listening to Him speak into your life, that you may find that promise, that encouragement, that strength to keep you going when your world collapses.
I think it's sad that Martha never really heard Jesus speak.
I don't want to be like Martha.
I'm thinking I'll just find me a place at His feet, and just listen for awhile.