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Luke 10:38-42 - Martha doing her Peter imitation

Updated: Jul 20, 2022

As Jesus and his disciples went on their way, Jesus 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."


This short reading from the end of Luke’s tenth chapter seems simple to understand: It is a story of Jesus going into the home of Martha, where she lived with her sister Mary. The imagery presented shows Martha busily working to provide a meal for the welcomed visitor, Jesus, while Mary does nothing but lay at the feet of Jesus. This should be seen as similar to the business Abraham went through when he was visited by three men at his tent. This makes Abraham be a parallel character to Martha. What is less clear is the presence of Mary inside the home makes her be parallel to Sarah, who Abraham left the three men to go tell to help him prepare a meal for their guests.

While that parallel connects two readings presented on one Sunday (if a church is on the Track 2 path), that misses the greater truth presented in both of the stories read aloud. Everything about Scripture – Old Testament and New Testament [Psalms and Prophets, et al] – comes from reading the divine text on a spiritual level of understanding, not a physical level. This means the three men, the tent, with an oak tree nearby, has little to do with the intent, even though the visual imagery makes the story memorable. The same physicality of this story misses the truth of the intent meant to be grasped.

Where we read translated, “As Jesus and his disciples went on their way,” the truth of the literal English translation has verse thirty-eight beginning with a capitalized “En.” In the lower-case spelling, this means “in,” but conveys an intent that says, “within,” meaning internal to the body of flesh, thereby meaning wherein lies the soul that gives life to the flesh. The capitalization of this word means to see the truth of Yahweh’s Spirit being “Within,” with the first segment’s words then saying, “Within now to this traveling their souls [themselves].” Thus, verse thirty-eight says Jesus and his travel companions [his students that called him “Teacher” or “Master”] were all filled with the Spirit of Yahweh “Within” their souls.

When we then read, “Jesus entered a certain village,” there actually is no naming of “Jesus” in any of these verses. While his name is stated three times in this tenth chapter [all in reference to the man named “Jesus” speaking], there is no such naming here. This is important when grasping the spiritual meaning, over the physical imagery. Instead, the Greek word “autos” is written, which ordinarily translates simply as “he,” but on a spiritual level of understanding becomes “himself,” with that reducing to “his soul,” because a “self” is the life that animates a body of flesh, as the “soul.” When we realize that it was “the soul of Jesus that entered into a village that was known (“certain”),” this sets up the rest of this story to be understood on a spiritual level. More important than Jesus physically walking into a place [Bethany], where Jews lived [“certain village”], is the “soul of Yahweh’s Son entering,” where it was received.

With this understood, verse thirty-eight is then separated by a semicolon, where that symbolizes a separate statement following, which is relative to the prior statement. With the soul of Jesus having entered into Bethany, we then read [literally translated into English]: “a woman now certain named Martha received his soul [“him” or “himself”]”. That must be seen as relative to receipt of “his soul” that “entered” the place where “Martha” lived. This must then be correlated to the first segment, begun by “En,” where Jesus traveled with those whose souls likewise “his soul had entered.” This means “Martha” is stated to be a disciple of Jesus, whose self-soul has submitted fully to do the will of Jesus. This must be seen as parallel to the way Abraham reacted when “three men” were “certain” to him, because they [the Trinity] had entered and become one with his soul.

Confusion comes when the NRSV presents that “Martha welcomed [Jesus] into her home.” The visual of “a home,” from “oikian” meaning “a house,” makes it easy to become distracted and taken away from the spiritual meaning, to the physical. The problem comes from realizing the NRSV translation service does not (and cannot logically in a program of translation) recognized parentheses or brackets, other than to omit such text found within those marks [which they do not understand]. Here, the words “( eis tēn okian )” are written between parentheses (or angle brackets]. That means the meaning of “into this house” becomes intended to say “into this dwelling,” where it was Martha’s soul that “dwelled” within her flesh. The express purpose of the parentheses is to signal the reader to see this “entrance” as meaning “into Martha’s soul;” and, “Martha welcomed” this presence within.

There, the Greek word “hypedexato” is the third-person singular Aorist Indicative form of “hupodechomai,” which means “to receive under one's roof, to receive as a guest,” while implying “I receive as a guest, entertain hospitably, welcome.” (Strong’s) According to HELPS Word-studies, the proper intent of the word is: “welcome under, i.e. to receive someone (something) as under their personal responsibility (note the hypo). This welcoming portrays what is received as under one's personal care (to see to the needs, etc.).” When this ‘responsibility’ is less about making food for a guest, and more about doing what a “Master” soul says do, this says Martha submitted her self-will and self-identity unto Jesus.

It is at this point that it is important to realize that the name “Martha” is capitalized, so it is important to understand the meaning behind the name. The root language is said to be Chaldean, meaning “mistress.” The Hebrew root word (“marar”) is the same root to “Mariam” or “Mary,” which means “myrrh” or “bitter, strong.” It is best to read the divinely elevated meaning of “Martha” as meaning “Mistress,” which means: “a woman of power and authority, who owns a home which she runs; while also bearing the archaic meaning “as a title prefixed to the name of a married or unmarried woman.” All of this should be considered in understanding the “woman named Martha.”

There are thirteen times in the New Testament that “Martha” is named. Five times are in Luke, with eight in John. Women being named during the times when the Gospels were written (of the times they recall) was not usually acceptable [nor naming children], so finding this as the first naming of “Martha” makes this important to understand her name. It implies she was not a married woman, which means she inherited the “house” and the property that went with it, which says she is the eldest of her siblings. She has self-perceived importance, such that marriage to a man might be for her putting men off with her attitude of power and control; but it can also say she had married, only to have her husband die and leave her his estate to manage (alongside her siblings). In any case, the name “Martha” must convey the self-importance that everyone today who calls himself or herself “Christian” must identify with. To “welcome the soul” of Jesus into one’s soul means complete submission to his will. To think of oneself as equally important with things to accomplish – even as a good Christian – denies allowing the soul of Jesus to direct one’s actions.

Following a period mark at the end of verse thirty eight, verse thirty-nine begins a new and separate thought, with Luke beginning it with the word “kai” [first word of a ‘sentence’ written in lower-case]. This is a whole verse written in three segments, with two comma marks between the three. The literal English translation has this verse state: “kai to her he existed a sister named Mary , who kai having sat down beside at these feet of this of Lord [or Master] , it was hearing this word of his soul [or himself] .” Here, it can be easy to see this verse stating a relationship between Martha and Mary, but the beginning word being “Kai” says to see the two as in relationship to Jesus, more than each other. This means, “to her he existed” says Jesus was also joined spiritually to another. This other is then identified as “a sister named Mary.”

In the naming of “Mary” [or “Mariam”], the capitalization acts in the same way as with “Martha,” where the meaning behind the name must be seen. Here, the Egyptian root [as “Miriam”] brings out the original meaning of “Beloved.” Here, one can see stated in the name a “love” relationship between Jesus and Mary, which is different from that between Jesus and Martha. It is then this soul that is named that will prior been in relationship with Jesus, “having sat down beside” Jesus. While that physically states the two were married as “Beloveds,” the spiritual reading here simply says “Mary” had already “welcomed his soul” to be one with hers, prior to “her sister.” Still, at this time, to read “at these of this” says both sisters were spiritually joined to Jesus, as his disciples. This once again refers back to the capitalized “En” that begins this reading.

Following the first comma mark, the word “who” is presented, where the importance that follows is both sisters “having sat down beside” the soul of Jesus, so both of “these” equally referred to “his soul” as “Lord” and “Master.” This is how Jesus is named, as a capitalized “Lord,” which means the “sitting down beside his soul” meant each woman (like all his disciples) knew Jesus was their spiritual guide to eternal salvation. What Jesus told their souls to do, they did. This becomes the truth of “at these feet,” where all disciples of Jesus were to be the ones “traveling” to tell others what Jesus taught them. The aspect of “at these feet” can also indicate the disciples were insignificant, bowed down in submission to their “Lord,” but that is secondary, as all disciples willingly submitted to Yahweh first, in order to then “welcome his soul entry into theirs.”

This is where the last segment places focus on “Mary” “hearing this word of his soul,” which is why disciples lay their souls before their “Lord” and “Master.” To be taught the message to take to others, one must pay attention and listen. This becomes the set up to the issue developed between Martha and Jesus. It is the purpose of this reading.

Following the period mark at the end of verse thirty-nine, verse forty then presents six segments, as two separate but related series, divided by a semicolon. Leading to that semicolon Luke wrote [translated literally into English]: “this now Martha it [of she: her soul] was drawn away concerning much service [or ministry]”. This says that verse forty is taking two souls [Martha and Mary] that were devoted disciples of Jesus, who both called him “Lord” or “Master,” and saying “this now” (that spiritual relationship between each of the two sisters and Jesus) is different in Martha, because instead of placing her soul “at these feet” of Jesus and “listening” to his instructions, “her soul was drawn away” or “distracted” from taking that position. Here, again, the capitalization of “Martha” speaks of her as a “Mistress,” where her sense of self-importance and responsibility had her soul scattered and lost spiritually, “concerning much ministry.” In other words, she was not busy around the house [the physical view of this story], as much as she was trying to act as Jesus, before she was fully prepared to be Jesus reborn. That time was still in the future; and, in the mean time there was mush left for their souls to be taught.

Following the semicolon, a separate but relative series of five segments string together to state the following [in literally translated English]: “having stood near now , her soul [or she] commanded , Lord [or Master] , not it concerns to your soul [or you, yourself] because this sister of my soul [or of me, of myself] only my soul [or me, myself] it has left behind [or she, her soul has left behind] to minister ? command therefore to her soul [or to her, to herself] in order that to my soul [or to me, to myself] her soul should help [or she, herself should assist] !” Here, it must be seen that the Aorist participle that states “having stood near” is in contrast to verse thirty-nine stating “having sat down beside.” While both souls in Martha and Mary “were sitting at the feet of Jesus,” as his disciples, Martha is “now standing near,” rather than “sitting at these feet.” She was like a female Peter, who was always trying to “stand near” Jesus, as his equal. While she “stood” with the lessons of Jesus having been deeply believed (as “near” his soul), her soul was being Jesus prematurely. Martha thought her soul was responsible for the soul of her sister – in the same way Peter thought he was similarly a leader of the other eleven lead disciples.

It was then this sense of self-importance that must be seen as the lesson of Zen meditation, where the teachers say, “When you think you have reached nirvana, you have not.” Jesus is called “Lord” or “Master,” but Martha is “commanding” the soul of Jesus what to do … in order to please her self-ego. Her soul questioned the “concerns” of the soul of Jesus, when she knew full well that the soul of Jesus was “concerned” about leading all lost wife-souls of Yahweh back to Him and to eternal Salvation. Martha thought her soul was the guide for the soul of Mary, as they both “dwelled” together, with Martha the elder “sister.” This is the same flaw Peter fell prey to routinely, which shows that he was seeing his years of experience on earth (his ‘seniority’) as something to brag about. To have the gall to question anything of Jesus’ soul was to be led by the influences of Satan.

When the last segment is shown to end in an exclamation point, denoting Martha strongly “commanding” Jesus to do her soul’s will – as one of equal “standing” … while in that physical “house” – says her soul has become lost in her own sense of self-pride, from self-importance. The lessons of Jesus’ soul instruct the opposite, which is to become the least, as the one who serves all first, with self of no value. By the soul of Marth “having stood near,” she reflects upon all modern leaders of Christianity, who put in the time to study Scripture (unlike the majority), but then they fall prey to thinking they are higher and mightier than the rest. To even act as a leader becomes a danger to one’s own soul, as the only “Lord” or “Master” is the soul of Jesus having been resurrected within one’s soul, so one’s own soul has died of self-worth and is in complete submission [“having sat down beside at these feet of his soul”] to that divine will. Like Ezekiel said when questioned by Yahweh about what his brain thought about dry bones returning to life, the only answer is, “Lord you know.” That says one’s own soul only knows what it is told to know, with nothing else relevant.

Verse forty-one then begins with a capitalized “Apokritheis,” which says “him Answering.” The capitalization not only makes it clear that the masculine singular is Jesus [the only male physically in a house], but it says Yahweh spoke in response to an exclamation demanding His Son do the will of a “servant soul,” recognizing that soul (like Peter) was overzealous. In terms of what the soul of Jesus told John in his Apocalypse, Martha was certainly not lukewarm; she was hot about making things happen towards the good. This divinely elevated word then should be read as the Father hearing through the Son, so one who still retained too much self-worth, as a Father kindly teaching His child what not to do.

The whole of verse forty-one then literally translates into English saying, “him Answering now , he commanded to her soul [or to her, to herself] this Lord [or Master] , Martha , Martha , your soul is distracted [or you, yourself is overanxious] kai your mind is agitated [or you are disturbed] concerning much ;” This is the Father not allowing a child to act ready to pretend to know everything. In divine “Response,” the soul of Martha was “commanded” to stop what her soul was doing immediately. This is the foot being firmly put down, letting her soul know clearly who is “this Lord” [or Master]. To repeat the name “Martha” says the two meanings behind the name must be seen, so the first calls her out as a “Mistress,” which is the female equivalent of a “Master.” This becomes a divine statement about her self-worth being called out. The second then goes to the Hebrew root, where “Marar” means “Bitter” or “Strong” [like the spice myrrh]. This says her soul’s acting as an equal to Yahweh and His Son is coming on too “Strong” and shows “Bitterness” from not getting one’s way.

When the soul of Jesus then importantly [use of “kai”] told her soul, “your mind is agitated concerning much,” this says she was thinking too much. While it is easy to see the physical, of Martha in her house busily trying to do many things all by herself, while her sister Mary is lounging lazily at the feet of Jesus and not helping Martha, the real lesson here is to see oneself in a modern world, where so much distracts one’s brain from doing what one’s soul knows it should do. We are all Martha, in the sense that a soul in the flesh is a female wife-to-be to Yahweh, as engaged to be divinely married. Because that wedding has not yet come [we are bridesmaids whose lamps must always be kept full of oil], Martha is a reflection for how often our souls start thinking that divine union has already come, making each one of us seem as if we have some right to command others to do our bidding … as a wife [Mistress] of God. The “service” or “ministry” Martha is pretending to be responsible for [in her house] reflects just how easy it is to act self-righteous, trying to foresee everything, when we can foresee nothing. To try and play God becomes “agitating to our minds,” because we are not God.

In verse forty-two, following a semicolon that separates this as a new statement, while informing the reader it is relative to this state of “agitation” Martha was experiencing, three segments are presented. The whole of this verse then translates literally into English saying, “of little now he exists need , than of one Mary indeed this good part she has chosen , whoever not it will be taken away from of her soul [or of her, of herself] .” In this, when the soul of Jesus explained to Martha, “of little now he exists need,” the Genitive case (possessive) that states “of little” says Martha and Mary has souls that “had sat down beside his soul,” which says not yet had either become “one” with the soul of Jesus. That state of oneness was not yet “a necessity,” as Yahweh had no “need” for many to be resurrected as His Son, while His Son was walking the face of the earth. Still, the example of Mary was the “need” to have all disciples be like “Mary,” whose soul was strongly drawn to the nearness of Jesus’ soul, so his teachings were “indeed this good part” her soul knew must be followed. When the soul of Jesus explained, “she has chosen,” this is the commitment a bride makes in an engagement to be married, such that one must “choose” to keep one’s lamp filled with the oil that allows the light of Yahweh’s “goodness” to shine forth. Mary was showing her lamp was full of oil, while Martha was showing how she was too busy with unnecessary things to remember to keep her lamp filled with the goodness Jesus taught her soul.

This makes the last segment be the lesson of the ten bridesmaids, where five would be left behind, having lamps that had run out of oil. This says there were those disciples [Judas Iscariot certainly one] that had sat down beside Jesus and then stood near, as if they were ready to replace Jesus as the leader of their souls. The words Jesus spoke that say, “whoever not it will be taken away from of her soul” explains not all disciples will gain eternal salvation. This becomes the parable of the sheep and goats, where both sheep and goats would be disciples of Jesus, just as were Martha and Mary and Judas and the other eleven. It will be in the time of Judgment that one will find out if self-importance has one’s soul deemed to be a goat, which will be cast into the outer darkness. The outer darkness can be seen as a lamp that produces no light, therefore out of the influence of Jesus.

As a Gospel reading selection for the sixth Sunday after Pentecost [Proper 11], the lesson is the same as that told in Amos [the basket of summer fruit] and that told in Genesis [Abraham meeting the Trinity]. This Gospel reading places focus on the duality of those who serve Jesus as his disciples. Some will be good fruit (not seedless) and some will do everything possible to make a divine guest know one’s love and devotion (rather than some acting prematurely as divine). This Gospel reading becomes a strong reflection placed upon modern Christians as being too self-righteous to truly serve Yahweh. It is so much easier to pretend to be Jesus, because one has read a thing or two that he said, than it is to be Jesus resurrected and allow Jesus to enter ministry again in the flesh (one’s own sacrificed into marriage to Yahweh). It says there are way too many “Mistresses” wearing robes and suits, where physical human beings feel the agitation to lead flocks, based on the written words of Jesus in the Gospels, rather than become Jesus reborn and live those words so others will be led to do the same.

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