Based on Luke 10:38-11:13
We often don’t know what to do with the account of Mary and Martha. Certainly, we would all like to sit at the feet of Jesus, listening to His teaching. We would like to go away with Him to a special place, devoting ourselves to prayer. But with Martha, we are anxious and troubled about many things. You may be currently worried about getting the house clean, food prepared and work completed before Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Maybe you have company coming. Who wouldn’t be anxious and bothered with things which need to be done. And we’re supposed to sit with Mary at the feet of Jesus listening? The story of Mary and Martha may be one of the most relevant in all of Scripture, as it reflects the reality of our lives. Do we spend our time in Bible study and prayer, or do we take care of the many tasks which need to be handled to accommodate gatherings of family and friends? It is obviously an age-old dilemma, creating “bad blood” at times between siblings. And Jesus gives no easy answer. He doesn’t condemn Mary for choosing the “needful thing, the good portion,” neither does He criticize Martha for her hospitality and care. He does go from His visit in their home, to a certain place for prayer.
And maybe Jesus’ simple prayer helps us a bit. Sometimes, we may not have time to enter our prayer closet and spend an hour in prayer. We almost always have time for the “Lord’s Prayer;” simple, yet profound — not full of empty phrases, but direct, to the point. We can’t do better than to use the prayer of our Lord as our own. No wonder we Lutherans love ending our Bible studies, meetings and gatherings with the prayer our Lord taught us.
Prayer: Jesus, Lord, thank you for teaching us to pray, as yourself would pray. Amen.
Holy Week response: Holy Week is a time for putting aside our anxiety over many things to attend to the one thing that is necessary. Make time for worship on Maundy Thursday and Good Friday.
This year’s devotional was prepared by the Rev. Dr. David Wendel, NALC assistant to the bishop for ministry and ecumenism. To learn more about A Lenten Walk Through the Word, visit thenalc.org/lent.
Scripture quotations are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
2 Chron. 23:1–21
23:1 In the seventh year Jehoiada made a bold move. He made a pact with the officers of the units of hundreds: Azariah son of Jehoram, Ishmael son of Jehochanan, Azariah son of Obed, Maaseiah son of Adaiah, and Elishaphat son of Zikri. 2They traveled throughout Judah and assembled the Levites from all the cities of Judah, as well as the Israelite family leaders.
They came to Jerusalem, 3and the whole assembly made a covenant with the king in the temple of God. Jehoiada said to them, “The king’s son will rule, just as the Lord promised David’s descendants. 4This is what you must do. One-third of you priests and Levites who are on duty during the Sabbath will guard the doors. 5Another third of you will be stationed at the royal palace and still another third at the Foundation Gate. All the others will stand in the courtyards of the Lord’s temple. 6No one must enter the Lord’s temple except the priests and Levites who are on duty. They may enter because they are ceremonially pure. All the others should carry out their assigned service to the Lord. 7The Levites must surround the king. Each of you must hold his weapon in his hand. Whoever tries to enter the temple must be killed. You must accompany the king wherever he goes.”
8The Levites and all the men of Judah did just as Jehoiada the priest ordered. Each of them took his men, those who were on duty during the Sabbath as well as those who were off duty on the Sabbath. Jehoiada the priest did not release his divisions from their duties. 9Jehoiada the priest gave to the officers of the units of hundreds King David’s spears and shields that were kept in God’s temple. 10He placed the men at their posts, each holding his weapon in his hand. They lined up from the south side of the temple to the north side and stood near the altar and the temple, surrounding the king. 11Jehoiada and his sons led out the king’s son and placed on him the crown and the royal insignia. They proclaimed him king and poured olive oil on his head. They declared, “Long live the king!”
12When Athaliah heard the royal guard shouting and praising the king, she joined the crowd at the Lord’s temple. 13Then she saw the king standing by his pillar at the entrance. The officers and trumpeters stood beside the king and all the people of the land were celebrating and blowing trumpets, and the musicians with various instruments were leading the celebration. Athaliah tore her clothes and yelled, “Treason! Treason!” 14Jehoiada the priest sent out the officers of the units of hundreds, who were in charge of the army, and ordered them, “Bring her outside the temple to the guards. Put the sword to anyone who follows her.” The priest gave this order because he had decided she should not be executed in the Lord’s temple. 15They seized her and took her into the precincts of the royal palace through the horses’ entrance. There they executed her.
16Jehoiada then drew up a covenant stipulating that he, all the people, and the king should be loyal to the Lord. 17All the people went and demolished the temple of Baal. They smashed its altars and idols. They killed Mattan the priest of Baal in front of the altars. 18Jehoiada then assigned the duties of the Lord’s temple to the priests, the Levites whom David had assigned to the Lord’s temple. They were responsible for offering burnt sacrifices to the Lord with joy and music, according to the law of Moses and the edict of David. 19He posted guards at the gates of the Lord’s temple, so no one who was ceremonially unclean in any way could enter. 20He summoned the officers of the units of hundreds, the nobles, the rulers of the people, and all the people of the land, and he then led the king down from the Lord’s temple. They entered the royal palace through the Upper Gate and seated the king on the royal throne. 21All the people of the land celebrated, for the city had rest now that they had killed Athaliah.(NET Bible)
92:1 A psalm; a song for the Sabbath day.
It is fitting to thank the Lord,
and to sing praises to your name, O Most High.
2It is fitting to proclaim your loyal love in the morning
and your faithfulness during the night,
3to the accompaniment of a ten-stringed instrument and a lyre,
to the accompaniment of the meditative tone of the harp.
4For you, O Lord, have made me happy by your work.
I will sing for joy because of what you have done.
5How great are your works, O Lord!
Your plans are very intricate!
6The spiritually insensitive do not recognize this;
the fool does not understand this.
7When the wicked sprout up like grass,
and all the evildoers glisten,
it is so that they may be annihilated.
8But you, O Lord, reign forever.
9Indeed, look at your enemies, O Lord.
Indeed, look at how your enemies perish.
All the evildoers are scattered.
10You exalt my horn like that of a wild ox.
I am covered with fresh oil.
11I gloat in triumph over those who tried to ambush me;
I hear the defeated cries of the evil foes who attacked me.
12The godly grow like a palm tree;
they grow high like a cedar in Lebanon.
13Planted in the Lord’s house,
they grow in the courts of our God.
14They bear fruit even when they are old;
they are filled with vitality and have many leaves.
15So they proclaim that the Lord, my Protector,
is just and never unfair.(NET Bible)
10:38 Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him as a guest. 39She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he said. 40But Martha was distracted with all the preparations she had to make, so she came up to him and said, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do all the work alone? Tell her to help me.” 41But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things, 42but one thing is needed. Mary has chosen the best part; it will not be taken away from her.”
11:1 Now Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he stopped, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.” 2So he said to them, “When you pray, say:
“‘Father, may your name be honored;
may your kingdom come.
3Give us each day our daily bread,
4and forgive us our sins,
for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.
And do not lead us into temptation.’”
5Then he said to them, “Suppose one of you has a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread, 6because a friend of mine has stopped here while on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him.’ 7Then he will reply from inside, ‘Do not bother me. The door is already shut, and my children and I are in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything.’ 8I tell you, even though the man inside will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of the first man’s sheer persistence he will get up and give him whatever he needs.
9“So I tell you: Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you. 10For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. 11What father among you, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead of a fish? 12Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? 13If you then, although you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”(NET Bible)
The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016.
On Good Friday, March 29 of the same year, Luther had completed his well-deserved coarse answer to Emser. Here he called the Holy Ghost the most lucid writer and speaker whose writings do not need the help of church and tradition in order to be under-stood correctly if they are only taken in their literal sense. (18–19)
–Johann Michael Reu, Luther on the Scriptures
This daily Bible reading guide, Reading the Word of God, was conceived and prepared as a result of the ongoing discussions between representatives of three church bodies: Lutheran Church—Canada (LCC), The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) and the North American Lutheran Church (NALC). The following individuals have represented their church bodies and approved this introduction and the reading guide: LCC: President Robert Bugbee; NALC: Bishop John Bradosky, Revs. Mark Chavez, James Nestingen, and David Wendel; LCMS: Revs. Albert Collver, Joel Lehenbauer, John Pless, and Larry Vogel.