Why is sitting at Jesus’ feet the one necessary thing? Part 1

Many of you have tried to get into God’s Word and spend time with the Lord in prayer, but you lost your motivation. Maybe you jumped into Genesis with gusto, you hung on through Exodus, but you got lost and died somewhere in Leviticus.

Maybe you didn’t get much out of it and so you quit. But whatever happened to kill your motivation, the fact that Jesus calls Mary’s action of sitting at His feet and listening to His word “the necessary thing” ought to be sufficient reason to commit yourself to it. But let me give four reasons why you should make sitting at the Lord’s feet the main priority in your life:

1. THE WORD PROVIDES US WITH THE VERY WISDOM OF GOD THAT WE NEED FOR ALL OF LIFE’S DECISIONS AND DIRECTION.

The best Greek manuscripts use the title “the Lord” (rather than “Jesus”) throughout this story. Luke is making the point that Jesus is none other than the Lord God, so that His word is God’s word.

You may think, “It must have been wonderful to sit and hear Jesus speak as Mary did. I wish I could go back to that time and place and join her.” But the fact is, we all have the inspired Word of God available to us every day, and yet we often neglect it!

God has given us “everything pertaining to life and godliness” (2 Pet. 1:3) in His Word. The Scriptures “are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:15-17). 1 Peter 2:2 tells us, like newborn babes, to “long for the pure milk of the word, that by it you may grow in respect to salvation.”

As we’ve seen (Luke 4:1-12), Jesus overcame Satan’s temptations by quoting from Scripture that He knew by heart. As the psalmist proclaimed, “Your Word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against You” (Ps. 119:11). God’s Word gives us knowledge about how to love God and to love one another (Luke 10:27). And yet so many Christians are defeated by sin and their relationships are strained, but they seldom get into the Bible to search for answers. It’s as if we were dying from cancer and we had a cure for cancer sitting on our shelf, yet we don’t take it off the shelf and use it!

Not only does God’s Word give us the wisdom that leads to salvation and the understanding we need to grow in godliness, it gives us the perspective we need to face life’s trials, including death.

The Word promises us hope in the midst of our trials and hope beyond the grave. So is it any wonder that when Mary sat listening to the word of the Lord, Jesus said that she was doing the one thing necessary?

2. THE WORD PUTS US IN COMMUNION WITH THE LIVING LORD OF HEAVEN AND EARTH.

Mary’s sitting at Jesus’ feet and listening to His Word implies a communion or fellowship of her spirit with that of the Lord. Like the two men on the Emmaus Road (Luke 24:32), Mary’s heart must have burned within her as she listened to Jesus explaining the Scriptures. Through her time communing with the Lord at His feet, Mary developed a sensitivity that enabled her to anoint Him for His burial, an action that Jesus said would be remembered wherever the gospel is preached in the whole world (Matt. 26:13).

We need to remember that the point of spending time in the Word and in prayer is not so that we can check it off on our Goals Chart. The point is to meet with the Lord, to commune with Him as Mary did, as we sit at His feet, listening to His word.

3. THE WORD PUTS ALL OF LIFE’S PRESSURES IN PROPER PERSPECTIVE.

Martha was stressed out by the pressure of preparing the meal for her honored guest. She probably had worried about it for days since she heard that He was coming. She wanted everything to be right for the occasion.

But because of her focus on these pressures, she ended up worried and bothered about so many things. She even blurts out an accusation against her Lord and against her sister, thus violating the two great commandments! If she had just taken the time to join her sister at Jesus’ feet, all of these pressures would have fallen into proper perspective.

This applies to us. It is so easy to allow the pressures of life to crowd in on us and get our focus in the wrong place. We can even think, “If I take the time to spend with the Lord, all the demands on my time will only stack up higher!” But a few minutes spent in the Word and in prayer can lift the burden and give us the Lord’s calm, clear perspective, even though our circumstances have not changed.

4. THE WORD IS THE GOOD PART, WHICH CANNOT BE TAKEN FROM YOU.

Mary chose the good portion, to dine at Jesus’ feet, listening to His Word. She would still have that long after the meal was forgotten. Mary was practicing the words of Deuteronomy 8:3, that “man does not live by bread alone, but … by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord.”

You can lose just about everything in life, but you won’t lose the time you spend communing with the Lord. You can lose your job, your money, your possessions, and even friendships. But as Paul says at the climax of Romans 8, nothing—tribulation, distress, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril, sword, not even death itself or demonic powers—can separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord!

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