TAKE A deep breath and smell the aroma of lunch cooking in the kitchen. It was a very important meal. Jesus and the 12 stopped in to visit the home of Martha and Mary, in Bethany. Through the swirling steam of the boiling pots, Martha glimpsed Mary sitting at the feet of Jesus. Sitting was a luxury she couldn’t afford with all the cooking to do. Surely Mary knew she needed her help in the kitchen.
I bet Martha really wanted to sit with Jesus. I imagine she told herself she would as soon as she finished the task at hand. She meant well, and the desire was sincere, but the tyranny of the next urgent thing forced itself before her like a spoiled child demanding to be reckoned with or else.
And while we’re boldly imagining, suppose Mary really meant to help Martha or even planned to help Martha as soon as Jesus paused in His teaching. But perhaps He alluded to something that left Mary believing He’d explain it in more detail, so she lingered longer. She knew she preferred Martha’s burning youknew- I–needed-you speech over missing Jesus’ words, sensing a possibility that their days with Him were numbered.
Martha was worried and anxious over lunch when the bread of life was in the house.
The Samaritan woman at the well was looking for something to control. She’d go to the well at noon, the hottest hour, to draw water in order to avoid drawing gossiping crowds. Five husbands and living with a man that she wasn’t married to gave them plenty to talk about. She could avoid the heat of their condemning gazes and whispers of disapproval. This was something she could control.
She was unnamed in the story. Perhaps her lifestyle caused her to be guarded in sharing it, her shame naming her.
Strain and listen for the low screech of the wheel that lets down the rope with the bucket day after day, sweat trickling relentlessly down her back. She was looking to fill the caverness hole in her heart until she encountered the living water; Jesus.
Look at their shoulders, Martha and the well woman, how they’re keened forward under the weight of their loads.
Feel the heat – the scorching noonday sun, the steam from the boiling iron kettle pots.
What would one good, long drink do to satisfy parched lips?
Like Martha and the Samaritan woman, we stand, our hands reaching for the potholder, glancing over our shoulders at Mary as she sits at Jesus’ feet, straining to hear a word of encouragement or a nugget of truth. We let down our empty buckets, tired and weary of the world’s demands and so many times draw it up only half-filled or empty altogether.
But we don’t have to.
Time spent with Jesus will refresh and renew our spirits and fuel us for the day ahead. He is the one thing needful, and He is always waiting for us to come to Him with our empty buckets and weary hearts.
Our time, our heart, and our presence are all He needs. GN