Luke 10:38-42 The Story of Mary and Martha (Text for Sunday)

This Sunday we are excited to have Carole Spencer, Director of Friends Center and Adjunct Professor of Church History and Spiritual Formation at George Fox Evangelical Seminary, preaching at our meeting for worship. She has provided the Scripture text, queries, and an activity for preparation for worship on Sunday.

Join with me as we seek to come to meeting for worship with hearts and minds prepared.

“The One Thing Needed”

“Now as they went on their way, he entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things; there is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part, which will not be taken away from her.”” (Luke 10:38-42 NRSV)


  • Mary and Martha seem to represent different personality types. Which of the sisters do you most identify with?
  • Jesus says that “only one thing is needed” but he doesn’t give specifics about what that might be–what do you think Jesus means by “the one thing needed” in the context of this story? Jesus also says that Mary has chosen “the better part” but again doesn’t explain exactly what he means. What do you think he means by “the better part”?
  • Luke ends the story rather abruptly, with Jesus’ gently chiding Martha, but we don’t know Martha’s response. How do you imagine Martha responded? How would you respond?


  • This story is found only in the Gospel of Luke, but Mary & Martha appear in two different contexts in the Gospel of John. What else can you find out about these two sisters from the Gospel of John?