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One Thing Needed

Today's Devotional

You are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Luke 10:41–42

One weekend in March, I led a retreat on the theme of Mary and Martha, the sisters in Bethany whom Jesus loved along with their brother Lazarus (John 11:5). We were in a remote spot along the English coastline. When we were snowed in unexpectedly, many of the participants remarked how the extra day together meant they could practice sitting at Christ’s feet as Mary did. They wanted to pursue the “one thing . . . needed” (Luke 10:42 nkjv) that Jesus lovingly told Martha she should embrace, which was choosing to draw close and learn from Him.

When Jesus visited the home of Martha, Mary, and Lazarus, Martha wouldn’t have known He was coming in advance, so we can understand how she could have been upset with Mary for not helping with the preparations to feed Him and His friends. But she lost sight of what really mattered—receiving from Jesus as she learned from Him. Christ wasn’t scolding her for wanting to serve Him but rather reminding her that she was missing the most important thing.

When interruptions make us irritable or we feel overwhelmed about the many things we want to accomplish, we can stop and remind ourselves what really matters in life. As we slow ourselves down, picturing ourselves sitting at the feet of Jesus, we can ask Him to fill us with His love and life. We can revel in being His beloved disciple.

What distractions keep you from receiving from Jesus? How can you sit at His feet today?

Dear Jesus, thank You for loving to instruct me in Your ways. Help me not to get distracted by my activities, but to focus on You.


Martha and her siblings often hosted Jesus in their home in Bethany. When we first meet Martha, she’s busy preparing a meal for Christ and His disciples and is upset that Mary isn’t helping (Luke 10:38–40). In John 11, we learn of Lazarus’ illness, death, and resurrection; and we see the sisters’ reactions. When Christ says to Martha, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live . . . . Do you believe this?” she replies, “Yes, . . . I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world” (vv. 25–27). The last time we see Martha, she’s again preparing a meal, but this time she doesn’t protest that Mary isn’t helping (12:1–2). Perhaps she’d learned the importance of the “one” thing (Luke 10:41–42)—listening to, learning from, and worshiping Jesus.

By |2023-11-15T01:33:06-05:00November 15th, 2023|
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